How Hubba Is Building a Content Bridge: Interview

Content26 first heard about Hubba last summer when they announced their change from enterprise to a freemium business model. Permanently.
Emma Nemtin, marketing director of Hubba
And what service did Hubba started providing for free? A one-stop shop for product information. Obviously, we were intrigued.

Hubba is not the first company to try to make the process of providing high-quality, accurate product information to online retailers easier, but we wondered if they found a way to improve on previous attempts. We got in touch with Emma Nemtin, Hubba’s marketing director, to find out.

Usually, brand product information is stored in a handful (or more) of different locations, including Excel spreadsheets, PDFs, email messages, and file-sharing sites like Dropbox. If a company is more organized, their product information is stored in some sort of PIM (product information management) system like Kwikee or Zonza. But none of these storage options are easy or even possible for retailers who want to provide good product information to improve their customer experience.

Enter Hubba. Here’s how their plan is working out so far.


Fixing the Problem of Bad Product Data

Augustin: Who is your primary audience for your product: brands or retailers?

Emma: Our audience is both. We have both brands and retailers sharing product information on our network, so we cater to both groups. We need one to complete the other.

Augustin: What problems do you hope to solve for companies selling online?

Emma: In order to put up a product online, you need product information: images, descriptions, sizes, and so on. On Hubba, brands share their product information and marketing assets with anyone who needs to access it. For retailers, we house all of their brands’ product information and media files in one place, in a format that’s searchable and organized.

We’re here to fix the problem of bad product data. Brands build out “product profiles” within Hubba which help to communicate consistent, feature-rich product information to all retailers. We also map this product data into product listings forms which allow brands to automatically fill out retailer templates (like Amazon or Walmart).

With the boom of ecommerce, brands have yet one more channel to communicate with, and most brands struggle to keep up with the demand for their product information. We constantly hear from retailers that they are content starved. We are the connective tissue that helps brands get their message out, and for retailers to retrieve the information they need.

[Tweet “We constantly hear from retailers that they are content starved.”]

Augustin: Have you found retailers receptive to your format of providing product info?

Emma: We’ve found them to be quite receptive so far. We have a crawl, walk, run mentality at Hubba so we usually we start the retailer with baby steps. For example, we would ask a retailer “What’s the one piece of content you need most from your vendors?”

Typically it’s something as basic as 1 product image, so then we would have the retailer go into Hubba and grab that 1 image from each of their vendors. It’s a new way of doing things but they pick it up quickly and then it just becomes the norm.

Augustin: Does Hubba account for A+ or enhanced content–descriptive text that tells the narrative of the product–in its structured content?

Emma: Enhanced content or omnichannel descriptions are major pain points for our brands and retailers. We store consumer-facing descriptions as well as structured content. We also store high-resolution images, order forms, Excel files and attachments, and as many images as the brand can supply.

We know that most brands store structured content in Excel files and images with UPC codes. We took these two things into consideration and made it easy for brands to load their information into Hubba.

Augustin: How does Hubba compare to Webcollage?

Emma: We’re up against different entities depending on the tier. On the low-end, we generally displace technologies like spreadsheets, email, FTP servers, and file sharing sites like Dropbox. On the high-end, we see legacy MDM, PIM, and DAM players like SAP and Informatica.

But we do not see any of these as competition. Our strength is in the ability to share product information easily. If you have an existing process or solution, we simply act as a thin layer that pulls these pieces together and allows you to get the right information into the hands of the people who need it.

[Tweet “We’re a single source of truth for a brand.”]

Augustin: What differentiates you from other PIM (product information management) systems?

Emma: We store far more than what is required for ecommerce. We’re really a single source of truth for a brand that they can use to talk to not only retailers, but their own sales people, brokers, and distributors. We are a complete solution.

Most companies have 3 sources of truth: one ERP (enterprise resource planning software) for data, one for images, and one for product information. Most brands struggle with keeping the 3 systems connected and up to date. Hubba is one source of truth that allows brands to keep everything together.

Not only does Hubba keep everything together, but unlike a traditional PIM, we share this information in the same manner with any business partner the brand chooses.

Augustin: What prompted your change in business model last summer?

Emma: We shifted our business model to freemium and relaunched Hubba for one main reason. We wanted to open it up to really serve the people in the trenches who deal with managing and sharing product content.

Now Hubba is free (and always will be) for individuals to use as a better way to share product information and assets instead of using email, FTP, and file-sharing services. Unlike most enterprise software companies, we focus our attention on the marketers and merchandisers on the front lines (rather than top-level executives or IT) who dedicate a sizable part of their days to the exchange of product information.

Through our freemium model and consumer-centric product design, these individuals can join our growing community, upload product information, and share it with the people they do business with.

Augustin: What do you think makes a great product page?

Emma: Organization and structure definitely make a great product page. It’s important to have all of the necessary structured data that your retail partners are looking for (sizes, colors, price, weight) as well as rich, comprehensive, consumer-facing product descriptions. It goes without saying that images are key. We also urge our brands to add extra marketing content they have, such as a video campaign, consumer testimonials, lifestyle images, recipes, or awards.

When you include all of these assets on a product page, you are providing your retailer’s marketing or buying team with an entire buffet of material to help them build media-rich product pages and ultimately market and sell your brand better.

Emma Nemtin is the Marketing Director for Hubba, the fastest growing product sharing network for brands and retailers. A quintessential early adopter, Emma is constantly exploring how emerging technologies can connect people and solve problems, specifically with retail technology. She is Hubba’s lead content creator and a mentor for Girls Learning Code.