The concept of the Democratization of Data is nothing new, but application of this concept to eCommerce is increasing in importance. What is the "Democratization of Data"? It has been described as “the process of expanding business information ... to a much broader audience than traditionally has had access.” The “broader audience” not only includes other departments within a business, but also customers and potential customers seeking additional information about products, their costs, and their availability.
Making product information available has always been important, but varying levels of product data is increasingly important to consumers and is proving to be a competitive advantage for companies that make more information available. Many websites using the Magento platform allow various product information to be displayed on category and product pages. This includes attributes on product pages, and filterable attributes enabled on category Layered Navigation.
Above: an example of Product Attribute data being presented in the Magento 2 Luma theme on a category page. Below: an example of Product Attribute data being presented n the Magento 2 Luma theme on a product page under the 'More Information' tab. But this democratization of product data not only means providing useful product descriptions and product attribute information, it also means letting your customers see how many of a product remain in stock, letting them know when more of that product will be in stock, and when they should expect those products to be delivered.
You can integrate your website with your ERP system to allow customers to know not only how many of a particular product are still in stock, but also when a particular product is expected to be back in stock. This is an increasing trend on websites and something customers appreciate.
A customer that notices a quantity of 2 remain in inventory may be prompted to make a purchase or, if they need more than the available quantity, will know before placing the order that some items will be backordered. By providing the inventory data to customers, a business is able to better communicate with customers their ability to fulfill orders and manage customer expectations.
Magento natively supports inventory information and can communicate quantity levels on the front of the website. Magento also natively supports email notifications for when products are back in stock.
Most eCommerce systems provide the ability to alert customers to the status and location of a shipped order. Once an item has been shipped, an email notification is sent alerting the customer to shipment and often a tracking number is provided so they know where the item is at while it travels to them. These shipping notices present another opportunity to expose customers to related products or other promotions to entice them to return to your website for future purchases.
Also, it is important to provide a holiday shipping schedule so customers know the latest possible dates they can order items and still receive it before the holiday. These could be added as banners on your site to product or category pages, or to the shopping cart or checkout page. Similarly, notifying customers via email are also useful ways to communicate important shipping information.
Additional information can be communicated to customers through things like Chat windows and Blogs (a variety of module options are available for Magento).
Making more product information available to customers is increasingly important and something that is expected from shoppers. Make sure you are providing as much information as possible to customers. Magento natively allows you to share much of this key information, i.e. attributes, stock availability, quantity remaining, and shipping information. Make sure you are using it!