Scott wrote in with a good question. He came across an error on a Home Depot product page, where an internal comment note is visible to the public, and wondered whether brands control the product pages on retailers’ websites.
Your Makita inflator post got me thinking about a Ryobi cordless air inflator I had my eye on. I decided to look it up on HD’s website – there’s an odd bullet point- 3rd to last. Do brand control the product pages on HD and other stores?
The short answer is yes, but also no. Before we get to that, here’s the text of the bullet point that none of us should have actually seen:
I have no idea what that before bullet 13 is supposed to be, but if it can’t be programmed to show the hyperlink correctly, please leave it blank!!
My understanding about how product listings and descriptions come to be is not complete, but I know enough where I don’t see a need to ask any of the retail partners we’re friendly with.
Generally, similar to how we have access to press releases and media resources, retailers have access to fact sheets and imagery of their own. Sometimes these resources are available and publicized before press materials are distributed, which is how we sometimes discover information about new tools before they are officially announced.
Some retailers seem to allow for direct brand listings, where brands have direct access, similar to how 3rd party sellers can create their own marketplace listings. Others draw text and bullet points from sell sheets. Often, information is copy-pasted into templates.
With a retailer like Home Depot, things are less clear, especially in regard to Ryobi, Ridgid, and other “house brands.”
I have seen copy/paste errors, where information from one listing is copied over into a new listing where features or specifications might be shared. I do that here sometimes too, with things like specification lists, and sometimes a mistake gets through.
As an aside, that’s how I have been alerted to other tool news or review sites copying from ToolGuyd posts – when I find unique specs formatting or minor mistakes (unintentional or otherwise) that were copied into others’ posts.
With Ryobi, I am inclined to believe that there is greater brand involvement, seeing as how their products are exclusive to Home Depot. I’m not aware of the intricacies, but the situation is going to be different than for say a Dewalt cordless drill. Well, it might not be that different, since Home Depot is a mega-retailer that probably receives individualized attention from tool brands.
In general, brands supply everything needed to create and maintain product listings on retailers’ sites. Can they change that information? I don’t think so, at least not in most cases.
Some retailers will create their own listings, with their own photographs and even insights. Generally, smaller and more specialized retailers tend to do this more, but it also depends on the brand.
There is also something called a data feed, and while I don’t know if brands use them to distribute product listing information to retailers, it’s something that many retailers use to send information to affiliates and 3rd party services such as Google’s Shopping engine.
A data feed has all of the basic information about a product, including its price, formatted product descriptions, everything in between, and even primary and additional image links.
But I have never seen or heard about data feeds going to retailers. If such methods existed, retailers’ listings would be relatively synchronized, but they’re not.
From what I have seen, a listing on Amazon is usually “findable” as soon as information is added to their system, while some other retailers allow for delayed publishing dates. Independent retailers and some smaller than big box stores sometimes (but not always) publish listings as soon as they can too, with some being more diligent and earlier than others.
All of that suggests that even if there is control over the information in product listings, many retailers have independent control over their listings themselves.
Something like the error in Home Depot’s listing for the Ryobi inflator can happen in different ways. It’s actually a very good error, because it shows that someone read through and is paying attention to the contents of the description.
Yesterday, I posted about the new Ryobi cordless soldering irons. The listing for the less-featured 40W iron mistakenly says that it has variable temperature control (or maybe not, but we can’t see where this is controlled), and also that an extension cord is sold separately (in two places), despite this not being described as a hybrid-powered model like the pricier 18V Hybrid soldering station that can be powered by battery or AC cord.
That kind of thing does happen, and it happens more with iterative products where an updated version of a tool shares some but not all features and specs with the older one.
Long story short, brands often provide what is displayed on retailers’ product pages. Some retailers or special relationships can allow for direct control over the listings, but outside control seems to be the exception and not the norm.
Retailers – your opinions and insights are of course welcome, in official or anonymous capacity.