Profile: Christine Piston, Digital and E-Commerce Content Lead, Bimbo Bakeries USA
Christine Piston couldn’t have predicted she would be where she is today. With a passion for the visual arts, she attended the Tyler School of Art at Temple University and saw herself becoming heavily ingrained in the arts world in some capacity. Her first job was at an art studio, but through a series of events, six years later she found herself at Bimbo Bakeries in what she thought was a temporary position on the marketing services team. Working closely with marketing teams and vendors to develop in-store displays, she also maintained the company’s internal product image library. She soon went from managing the physical shelf to managing the digital shelf and joining the e-commerce team at Acelerada, a business unit within Bimbo Bakeries that is responsible for driving growth in e-commerce, disruptive product innovation, new distribution and corporate strategy. She is one of three Women of Excellence honorees in the “Rising Star” category.
Tell us about joining the newly forming e-commerce team in 2017.
Piston: From the early days of the team, we knew we needed a platform to help centralize, manage and distribute product content. I conducted a series of vendor interviews and developed a comprehensive grading rubric to narrow down our options. We found the right fit with Salsify. I led the implementation phase, which involved connecting various systems together to fuel our product database, and gathering the data that was not stored in any central location or didn’t previously exist. I also configured the syndication or distribution to our retailer partners.
What are your current responsibilities?
Piston: Managing product content and syndicating that content to our retailer partners. I’m also the administrator for Salsify and am continually working on product maintenance while also trying to elevate our content via optimizing marketing copy and generating new digital assets (including infographics and enhanced content). There’s a lot of navigating around the types of content retailers will allow, but we’re able to monitor and control what product images and data are displayed on our retailer partners’ sites so we can ensure accuracy, consistency and completeness – while trying to give as much transparency to the shopper as possible.
How have you elevated the company’s e-commerce IQ?
Piston: I created an eContent Playbook that reviews best practices for every aspect of a product detail page, including keywords for search, feature bullets and product images, and points out best-in-class examples from other CPGs. The playbook has become a consistent organization resource, presented at lunch-and-learns and to Grupo Bimbo’s global e-commerce board. It’s a living document that’s updated frequently as the landscape changes and as we mature in certain areas. I also began hosting e-commerce Open Office Hours, where I make myself available for informal meetings on a biweekly basis. We’ve found we can get results much more quickly by having these face-to-face opportunities.
What are you most proud of in your time there?
Piston: The overall implementation of the Salsify platform. It was a lot of work and learning along the way, and I’m still finding ways to expand on its functionality to better position BBU products at our retailer partners, whether that’s using the insights tools to surface opportunities or to support some of our regional customers with content they previously had no access to.
What do you want to provide shoppers and consumers?
Piston: A visually inspiring experience so they feel confident adding Bimbo products to their online grocery cart. I want our text and visual assets to connect with shoppers on an emotional level and to inspire them by illustrating meal solutions for every occasion and every part of their day – while making sure we’re transparent with our products to give the consumer a product they can trust.
What excites you most about this space?
Piston: The way technology connects brands to consumers, both new and existing, is fascinating but also a cautionary tale. If brands don’t catch up to meet the consumer where they are, someone else will. Brand partnerships that span across categories (which couldn’t be done in brick-and-mortar stores) offering a unique and profitable opportunity for retailers, brands and shoppers is exciting. The account managers on the e-commerce team help bridge the content and are the voice or face of Bimbo to the retailer, and we all work very closely together on that.