Content Governance: The Savior of Ecommerce Giants

Quitting online shopping may be tougher than taking a break from our smartphones. Hundreds of millions of people visit ecommerce websites every day, a number that only escalates during major shopping events like Amazon Prime Day or Cyber Monday. According to SimilarWeb, Wayfair’s website receives roughly 100 million visits per month, Walmart receives more than 300 million visits and Amazon — which leads the pack when it comes to web visitors — boasts a staggering 2 billion monthly visitors.

For many consumers, online shopping is a reflex, which is a major boon to retailers of all shapes and sizes. Of course, this tremendous amount of web traffic can create challenges for ecommerce brands to continuously maintain and invigorate their websites with timely, fresh content, while still staying organized internally. All those products, all those pages, all that content quickly tests the ability of any team to manage well.

Enter content governance.

Content governance is a set of guidelines, roles and priorities to ensure professionals across teams (from marketers to merchants to website developers) can work efficiently, effectively and autonomously toward a common set of objectives. Content governance enables an organization to continuously maintain and update content with minimal risk of overlap or mistakes. It empowers brands across the globe to be extremely organized and collaborative, which is essential to maintaining a quality interface and experience for millions of online shoppers every day.


By establishing content governance, ecommerce companies are able to reap a variety of benefits to not only improve business operations and brand reputation, but also drive customer satisfaction across every touch point with a brand.

Improving Organization

In the “dark ages” of content, it would frequently take weeks or months to make changes or produce something new, as any type of content governance followed organizational lines. Everything was managed manually, but at that glacial pace it worked (more or less). As content increasingly moved online, the cracks in this process became ever more obvious. Not only did it represent a time-consuming process of copying and pasting various assets, but it created confusion as to who had authority to make changes (like discounts or new images), what kind of changes they could make and who could approve them. 

For example, if a marketing team wanted to change the price of a clothing item to align with a new 20%-off campaign, they would have to navigate a sea of permissions and approval processes to determine who was authorized to update the website, determine if the information was input correctly, validate terms and conditions, etc. On the flip side, if there weren’t enough safeguards in place, someone could erroneously update the website with incorrect information and turn a successful campaign into an unforeseen loss.

In short, the process of maintaining website content was extremely challenging, confusing and labor-intensive. But with the rise of content governance, organizations can define and manage roles and permissions within the company, ensuring that each person’s responsibilities are clearly established and teams can operate effectively while staying in their lanes. Individuals have their own set of responsibilities and permissions that provide ample scope to get things done, but within limits that prevent mistakes or ownership confusion. Merchandisers can manage product information and pricing, for example, while marketers are free to create promotions without causing stock shortages.

Content governance guardrails empower organization and autonomy without the constant need for approvals or reviews. This balance between autonomy and coordination is essential to operating effectively at the pace of digital business today.

Increasing Collaboration

By clearly dictating the roles and responsibilities of each person on a team, content governance also dramatically improves collaboration. Ownership confusion is often the enemy of collaboration, but with clear guidelines and expectations in place, teams can work in lockstep (yet autonomously) to make sure content tasks are being accomplished in a timely manner.

Collaboration is critical in the fast-moving retail and ecommerce world, as employees are frequently forced to work quickly and adapt to time-sensitive initiatives that change on a daily basis. 

For example, if a company decides to run a buy-one-get-one marketing campaign, teams across the organization must coordinate to ensure that the marketing campaign is aligned with social media, the website and every other touch point that a customer has with the brand. By establishing clear roles with content governance, teams can quickly work together to ensure that content is updated and approved at previously unheard-of speeds.

Security and Risk Reduction

If rogue social media managers have taught us anything, it’s that one person with too much power can massively hurt a company’s reputation and finances, whether on purpose or not. The same holds true for ecommerce websites.

Human error and poor judgment can cause catastrophic damage to ecommerce brands with poor content governance systems in place. Failure to properly manage and review content can be the difference between an intended 9% discount showing up as a 90% discount. Or worse, inadvertently revealing confidential customer financial data to the public. 

There is tremendous risk with many employees having access to a company’s website, especially among companies with massive infrastructure and staff that all need to collaborate quickly. Mistakes unfortunately happen, but content governance can be the safeguard needed to protect companies from playing the fool on a national stage. By defining priorities and carefully assigning a set of roles and responsibilities to each individual, brands can reduce security issues and avoid crises. It’s a powerful tool to prevent errors that can potentially cost companies millions of dollars.

Driving Efficiency and Creative Freedom

Unsurprisingly, there is a tremendous cost-saving aspect to content governance. Teams that are organized and collaborative will inherently work more quickly and produce more efficiently. Processes that used to take weeks can take days or even hours to complete.

This of course saves money. It also empowers employees to focus more on big picture projects and creative endeavors. Busywork and monotonous, burdensome oversight are the enemy of creativity. With content governance, ecommerce teams can spend more time thinking creatively about how to pull different aspects of the organization together and drive new initiatives.

Content governance is a powerful tool that, especially when combined with effective operational tools, can help organizations continuously create positive experiences for their customers and ensure that content is being updated in a timely and safe way. It allows ecommerce brands to drive customer satisfaction across every touch point with the company and turn their consumers from shoppers into brand evangelists. But accomplishing this requires a modern content platform that enables content governance. 

Nicole France is a passionate customer advocate evangelizing new ways of thinking about content and organizing the work of digital business. It’s the wave of the future — and her mission is to make sure everyone knows why. She brings the perspective and critical thinking of an industry analyst and the firsthand experience of a practitioner. Before joining Contentful as an Evangelist, France worked as an analyst at Constellation Research and Gartner. She also held a variety of strategy and marketing roles at Fujitsu, Equinix, ITSMA and Cisco.

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