Three Pillars Of E-Commerce Content Production (To Get You Ahead Of Your Competitors) As the e-commerce sector matures in the region, production will become a key area for businesses to get right in order to achieve quality at scale, save on cost, and improve output.

By Adam White

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As the e-commerce sector matures in the region, production will become a key area for businesses to get right in order to achieve quality at scale, save on cost, and improve output.

Enter the cost-effective consultant. Hire in-house, save money, ramp up productivity, and keep continuity flowing through each project. Once upon a time, I could see how this was the most effective way to run a business; growing talent internally rather than outsourcing to consultants or freelancers, often considered the pricier alternative.

However, today's businesses are appreciating the need for flexibility more than ever. They don't want to be tasked with high overheads and the responsibility of running and maintaining a team, they want to move quickly, and to do that, they have to have agility in their corporate structure.

This is particularly true when it comes to the e-commerce industry, and more specifically, the production needs that apply to this growing sector. As consumers, our expectation is to view new products daily, and as competition in the market increases, studios who don't meet this demand could soon find themselves falling out of favor.

So, how can brands keep the production line going without the huge financial strain that this will inevitably entail? Enter the cost-effective consultant. Consider it purely from a number's perspective; production is often the most expensive departments to set up and run, and yet like anything else, there will be peaks and troughs in the year that will affect output.

Your studio could sit empty or working through a reduced volume of products during a quieter period, yet you are still paying the same rate to keep it operational. On the flip side, outsourcing to a production house can offer a more competitive rate that saves on both time and resources.

It's no secret that brands are going through something of a reshuffle at the moment, as they look to adapt to shifting market conditions. Bringing media and creative in-house has been one of the biggest changes, yet the trend is starting to reverse when it comes to production. As businesses look to achieve efficiencies that answer more to the bottom line, an alternative to the staffed and salaried studios of old will become essential to deliver the expected growth.

Consultants in this space are arguably changing up the e-commerce game, offering an "in" for smaller brands to compete on a more flexible "cost-per-product" scale, whilst still helping the big players slim down their margins. As the e-commerce market matures in the region, the need for quality at scale will become a crucial component for growth, with increasing emphasis being placed on the production side of the business.

With this in mind, here are the three pillars of e-commerce content production to take into consideration, along with some useful KPIs to help monitor and improve.


The average cost it takes production to put products online

Anyone that tells you they don't have an eye on cost will most likely be sporting a Pinocchio-like nose as they divulge this total untruth, because of course, cost is important! However, most e-commerce businesses (particularly in Dubai) don't monitor their cost per-product, which can have a detrimental effect on business. To put it in simple terms: if you're spending more on producing content than you will make on the sales, you're losing money.

However, this doesn't mean you should stop investing in production altogether, you just need to invest wisely in the right areas of the operation that will ensure quality, efficiency, and ultimately, a decent ROI. Whilst initial investments may not deliver an immediate uplift in sales and frustrate your finance team, stick with it. If it's done right, then over time you will get out what you put in.


The time it takes to get products online once they have been received into stock

We're all so time-poor today that speed is essential to any business, but this is particularly true of the ecommerce world. Failure to launch quickly and on time can mean a missed opportunity to capitalize on something, particularly in the fast fashion game, when Instagram and the Kardashians can ignite a trend in just a few hours.

The key factor to a quick production turnaround-time (TAT) is the preparation or "preproduction." Never has the phrase "failing to prepare is preparing to fail" been so true. You can have a lighting fast studio team on the day, but if you haven't prepared properly, the process slows down considerably, and you can waste valuable time fixing issues that could have been addressed earlier in the pre-planning stage.


The rate at which particular products, categories, or brands are selling

Just because it clocks in third on the list doesn't mean it is any less important than the others. In fact, it's probably the most important because it spans every stage of the e-commerce content production process and is vital to the customer experience. Below are a couple of tips for driving content quality, and as a result, sales.

Define your tone of voice

Because this could be the difference between making a sale or not. Consumer choice is at an all-time high, and brands need to work harder than ever to retain loyalty, which is where the site experience can provide a key point of difference. A site that's easy to navigate is great, but they also want a place where they can be informed and inspired, which is why content (be it imagery or copy) is so crucial. Having an engaging tone of voice or style guide to reference will set you apart from competitors, and encourage more long-term customer retention.

It's all in the details

As above, it's the little things that make a big difference to the consumer, and mark you out as a brand to remember. Make the online shopping experience more informative than the in-store experience, showing and highlighting things like texture, weight, size, natural fall, and styling suggestions to bring the product to life.

Top People = Top Production

This is a universal rule that every business should follow. You could have the world's best idea, and yet, if you don't have the right people in place to implement it, then it's doomed to fail. Hiring top talent doesn't mean opting for the most expensive either; rather, it's about finding the skill gap in your enterprise, and looking for someone who has a passion to learn and hunger to succeed. Particularly as an e-commerce startup, the output is fueled by how invested the team are, so consider that next time you are hiring- look for mindset over skillset.

There's never going to be a one-size-fits all solution for everyone; it's an ongoing challenge that demands talent, effort, and investment. You won't be able to tick all three boxes at once, but by monitoring your weakest pillar and continually investing in the things that matter, you'll not only improve your output, you'll improve your bottom line too.

Related: All Set For Growth: The E-Commerce Landscape In The Middle East

Adam White

Managing Director, MiNT Studios

Adam White is the Managing Director of MiNT Studios, a Dubai-based content production service for e-commerce businesses in the Middle East. Adam is a process driven production manager with a creative eye and entrepreneurial flair. With a decade of international industry experience at leading online retailers, Adam has led many e-commerce teams to a more productive output, streamlining efficiencies and producing high quality content that delivers on both a brand and consumer level. 

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