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Product information is not content, and why does it belong to commerce.

How product information related to commerce functionality, and why it different from content.

Product information and content are often used interchangeably, which can lead to confusion when designing the architecture of your commerce applications. What adds to the confusion is the marketing materials of various vendors that separate product content from commerce or content management systems disguised as product information systems, leaving buyers in doubt about where to place product data or choosing the source of truth.

Relevance of product information to commerce

Product information is technical and factual; examples of such data are SKU, Size, Weight, Color, Material, Manufacturer, Stock, Country of origin, etc. Typically, a big chunk of such content comes from manufacturer or engineering data that doesn’t require an editorial process; in some cases, it is even desired that such content is integrated with different technical sources and read only to merchandisers to prevent human error.

The accuracy of such data can be critical for making purchasing decisions; consider facts as:

  • Allergens
  • Age restrictions
  • Weight and dimensions
  • Ingredients
  • Sourcing practices

For commerce admin and operators, product attributes can be used for many configuration purposes, such as:

  • Tax classes: Assigning correct sales tax
  • Pricing and promotions: Assigning or excluding variants from promotions and sales
  • Availability: of products in different markets or countries
  • Fulfillment: costs based on dimensions or weight
  • Regulations: import costs, and duties

Another aspect of product information related to commerce is catalog management, where products are assigned to different categories, collections, or product bundles. This can also create dependencies with other parts of the commerce logic or apps connected with commerce, such as search, payments, product feed, marketing, and more.

Customer support staff often operate within the commerce platform and rely on product attributes to create exchanges and returns or help customers find specific products.

Editorial and product content

Product content is editorial in nature, and its goal is to promote the product; such examples are:

  • SEO description
  • Similar products
  • Inspiration galleries
  • Unique selling points
  • Gift guides
  • Blog posts

Let's take the example of a blog post or gift guide that combines text, videos, and product galleries; traditional CMS would be better equipped to manage such content, which is why combining commerce and CMS is quite common, especially with headless systems.

Where to place product information and content

As we established, content and product information are two different types of data best served by commerce (PIM) or CMS. Product information and catalog structure can be a joint for commerce and content management; in some cases, they are inextricably intertwined.

Depending on the user's needs of the platform, you might want to use a combination of both PIM and CMS systems to manage both, synchronize them, or use only one, let's examine common solutions and their benefits:

  1. Commerce as the source, CMS with editorial enrichment

    Matching criteria:

    • There are users of commerce platforms such as customer support and merchandisers
    • Editorial content workflow is separate from merchandising. In this scenario, product data can be replicated from commerce to CMS to enable product discovery and linking by editorial content authors.

    Pros: Get the best tools for both types of content

    Cons: The storefront would have to consume both sources or a dedicated service would merge the data

  2. CMS as the source, Commerce as the replica

    Matching criteria:

    • The same wants to operate content, editorial, and merchandising from a single CMS tool
    • Commerce users such as admins and customer support do not need write access to product information

    Pros: Get the best tools for both types of content

    Cons: The storefront would have to consume both sources or a dedicated service would merge the data

  3. Only commerce

    Matching criteria:

    • There is no need for editorial content, or such content is limited in scope. For example, Saleor provides basic CMS functionality to create reusable content blocks, which would be enough for many storefronts.

    Pros: Less tool ownership and straightforward consumption of data by storefronts

    Cons: Commerce might be missing editorial functionality

  4. CMS and Commerce without product information.

    Matching criteria:

    • Your commerce platform does not have users who rely on product data; all operations related to the product are performed elsewhere, such as ERP, external order management systems, etc.

    • The same people manage editorial and product content, and they prefer to use a single CMS platform for all content and translation needs

    • Configuration of promotions, availability, prices, stock, and fulfillment don’t rely on product attributes.

    Pros: No need for synchronization logic

    Cons: The commerce platform might have limited context about products, which could lead to the creation of business logic elsewhere.

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