Three challenges in digital commerce – and how natural language generation can tackle them

Photo by Harald Oberhofer

Harald Oberhofer

Head of Marketing, Retresco


The term “digital commerce” comprises a range of companies in many different industries. It refers to retail brands with traditional brick-and-mortar stores that are undergoing digital transformation, as well as e-commerce companies with purely digital DNA. Fashion brands looking for direct contact with customers via digital touchpoints, automotive companies hoping to improve their outreach to internal and external stakeholders through digital products and services, B2B and B2C sales platforms facing high pressure to innovate, or the tourism industry aiming to take advantage of the potential offered by digital channels after the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

If there’s one thing that unites the stakeholders in the digital commerce industry, it’s that all of them buy and sell products and/or services on the internet with online or offline transactions. And all of them face similar challenges in the process.

Challenge No. 1: Boosting Growth

Technical innovation, customers expecting more and better digital touchpoints, competitive pressure, and numerous external influences create a challenging environment for sustainable company growth.

Natural Language Generation (NLG) – also known as automated text generation – is a subset of artificial intelligence, and according to Gartner, it will be one of the most important AI technologies in the years to come. NLG automatically converts data into text, facilitating a range of specific use cases that support a higher degree of flexibility and dynamics in growth processes.

NLG solutions create relevant content in a scalable way that uses minimal resources; product descriptions for online shops are one example. Compared to conventional copywriting methods, the automated generation of product copy significantly reduces costs while exponentially increasing output.

With this approach, large volumes of products can be made available and sold online quickly – a basic prerequisite for growth in digital commerce.  Natural Language Generation delivers content in multiple languages, making it a key technology for expansion into international markets.

Challenge No. 2: Improving Operational Efficiency

Content creation processes and sub-processes at companies are generally distributed among numerous internal stakeholders and external service providers, and they tend not to be subject to centralized management or monitoring. These conventional processes in content production can no longer meet the high standards of providers, manufacturers, and customers in an efficient or economical way.

Natural Language Generation solutions give you full control over all processes in the scalable creation of high-quality content, and they eliminate your dependence on internal service providers and agencies. Efficiency increases demonstrably when sub-processes such as data analysis, text generation, and translation are executed centrally within a single solution.

Not only does this shorten the overall content creation process; it also means the process can be handled by one person or department. Consequently, internal expertise in creating scalable content and managing it in a strategic way remains entirely within the departments at the company.

Challenge No. 3: Improving the Customer Experience

The customer shopping experience is generally subjective and can be influenced by a range of different factors that are not always under the provider’s control. But the good news is that digital commerce can measure the customer experience using factors such as the conversion rate in a web shop, social media indicators, customer review assessments, or customer surveys (CSAT, NPS). If any of these KPIs are unsatisfactory, the provider needs to react quickly.

The customer experience can be measurably improved by providing up-to-date and highly customized text at every step of the customer journey, for instance. Target group-oriented product descriptions in your own online shop, customer communication via customized newsletters, or high-quality copy in a printed catalog – Natural Language Generation ensures consistently high content quality across all channels and platforms, and eliminates incorrect information.

Best Practices for Digital Commerce

Case studies have proven time and again that automated content creation in digital commerce delivers extensive added value. The MediaMarktSaturn Group uses this approach to generate 500,000 product descriptions for the brands in its online shops, for instance. The automation solution from Retresco radically optimizes the content production processes at MediaMarktSaturn Germany. The creation of product descriptions is now efficiently managed by a small team of experts.

Another example of the successful application of this technology is the automated generation of product copy at Lyreco Switzerland. The Swiss market leader for workplace equipment and office supplies has opted to use automatic text generation to create product descriptions in its online shop and print catalog – and the company’s success has been measurable. After just six months, the automation of content production in German, English, French, and Italian at Lyreco Switzerland AG led to a significant optimization of internal processes and the time to market of new products.

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