Recently, we’ve been talking to a number of prospects interested in improving quality and reducing cost. Sounds familiar? I thought so 😉 But the way they want to go about it is quickly becoming a recurring theme with businesses sending out their products as packaged goods.

Traditionally there has always been paper documentation to go with those packages. Most of it standard, some of it customised, sometimes including a packaging note or even the invoice. In many cases, several languages are involved, so the entire package tends to become quite bulky and heavy, thereby limiting the allowable per-language content. Not to speak of the logistical challenge of keeping stocks ahead of the shipping product, often resulting in serious waste at the end of the product cycle.

Moreover, it gets harder to get customers to even look at the paper docs. They expect to find quality multimedia information online and they’re not very patient in finding it.

No wonder so many production managers are anxiously looking at digital ways to keep their customers happy while reducing documentation costs. For a while, the way to go was to include a CD or DVD, but devices to read those have mostly gone the way of the dodo.

So a thought might be to simply not include any paper docs and tell customers to come find it on the web site. Not entirely impossible, but hard to imagine for anything but the simplest of product lines. Yet some companies persist in trying, and very quickly the hard part of the process becomes locating the information – especially when your product is a couple years old and the web site has clearly gone through a couple of revisions. Old products get orphaned, like it or not. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

Some try to remedy this problem by including a logical link to the product page, say ProductClass/ProductFamily/ProductLine/Product/Model or something the like. Works fine, until the market hits a bump, the entire product category gets reorganised, homeric discussions between marketing and production managers ensue, ending up in the worst possible place: woolly compromise, with the hard decisions conveniently left to the webmaster to make. Just think about the associated direct, hidden and opportunity costs!

Well then, how about putting a QR code on the package and having it point to a product web page? “How hard can it be?” This happens to be just a minor variant of the previous process, so no wonder the issues remain identical. Whether you like it or not, if you want an acceptable customer experience when scanning that code, you are in for some serious custom web development. Aside from producing the proper content, you will need:

  • full-fledged product version management
  • a persistent deep-linking scheme that is time-independent and impervious to any future(!) web site changes
  • responsive design pages compatible with today’s and tomorrow’s devices
  • a quality content storage, rendering and streaming implementation that you can afford
  • … and if you want to establish a feedback channel for customers to report on things like broken or missing parts, that is an entire project in its own right

And then we’re not even talking about more complex packaged goods processes where intermediaries like installers may need to be authenticated and/or supplied with a superset of the content.

So, why not have a chat with Esoptra? We’re genuinely interested in your digital content experience opportunity and have ready solutions for what sets it apart from the crowd. You could be up and running in weeks, without interfering with your own tight IT schedules, at a cost that you cannot even dream of approaching with custom development. Pick your battles. Focus on your product. Your customer deserves no less. 

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