This post is guest written by Andrew Chen, Ask & Answer Product Manager.

I came across the results of a recent Retail Systems Research study where over 50% of the retailer respondents identified “keeping product information and availability up-to-date” as the largest challenge retailers currently face.

The interesting thing about this problem is that, as a retailer, your customers and vendors/manufacturers are in a great position to help solve this for you organically, but you have to provide the means for them to do so.  Our clients who have enabled Ask & Answer throughout their site are experiencing this first-hand. Every time a customer asks a question that exposes a gap in product, the manufacturer can step in to close the gap. As a retailer, getting manufacturers signed up to answer questions provides mutual benefit to all parties. In addition, this represents a chance for manufacturers to connect with the customer.

Our friends at The Home Depot Canada have assigned special badges to manufacturers so all of their answers are called out.  Here are a few examples at the left.

As retailers, make sure you’re taking advantage of this opportunity to scale your social-support efforts.  Your vendors and manufacturers have answers that can influence the hundreds of thousands of shoppers viewing your products. As manufacturers, recognize the huge opportunity that you have to help your retail channels’ customers make faster, more confident purchase decisions.

It’s a mutual win all around.

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