The global pandemic outbreak has rapidly accelerated the rate of e-commerce adoption. The rapid advancements of online shopping behaviors and customers' increased expectations have surpassed the ability of most retailers and brands to respond at pace.
Deloitte estimates that $0.56 of every dollar spent in a store is influenced by digital interaction. Given the influence, e-commerce must mature from a silo model to becoming an intrinsic part of manufacturers' holistic commerce strategy.
Today shoppers experience products and brands in a truly different fashion. They may start searching their product online, follow up with in-store purchasing (making sure their mobile device is handy to make any additional price or product comparisons), and end their journey by writing an online review. The shared ambition of manufacturers and retailers is, hence, to deliver the optimum online shopping experience to accelerate both online and in-store sales, as well as increase shopper loyalty. So, let's tap into know the role of the Digital shelf during these changing times.
What Is The Digital Shelf?
The digital shelf is where a brand's product is sold online. That can be on a retailer's site, the third-party marketplace, social commerce site, or any other e-commerce channel. This is where online shoppers go to browse, discover and purchase products. It requires all the care and attention to merchandising, display, and marketing that a physical shelf needs and more.
For most brand retailers, the primary digital shelf is surprisingly, not your website but the search results page. This is a significant change from years ago, where most consumers look for items to purchase. Other instances of digital shelves are category pages, curated product lists or product description pages.
Unlike the physical store shelf, brands can't rely on eye-catching product placement, aisle end cap groupings or bold packaging to sell. Instead, they must rely almost entirely on product content such as videos, images, instructions, descriptions, ratings, pricing, reviews, and more. When put together, these components are displayed on retailer's sites to assist consumers make informed purchasing decisions online.
Why Is The Digital Shelf So Important?
The digital shelf is an essential concept for brands and organizations to grasp as it can directly impact - profitability sales, and brand reputation. For instance:
Studies show that less than half of consumers click past the first page of search results, so the majority of traffic and conversion is gained by the top product search placements.
Over 60% of consumers say they will search and consider online ratings and reviews before making a judgment about a brand and deciding to purchase.
73% of consumers say that detailed product content is a crucial factor when searching through the digital shelf and making an informed purchase decision.
Furthermore, customers are turning to the digital shelf to research before making a purchase in-store—digital retail channels and product content influence more than half of all retail sales. Hence, strengthening the online performance can have a direct impact on a shopper's overall retail experience. Now that we know the importance of the digital shelf, let’s look at some of the challenges.
Challenges Of The Digital Shelf
While perfecting the digital shelf is necessary, know that you will encounter some glitches:
Digital shelves are not standardized across retailers. That means that product detail page setup and requirements require some customisation level for each retailer brand partners with. This can be a significant undertaking for small brands with limited resources in place.
Consumers cannot physically interact with the product. That means all necessary information to make a purchase decision must be included, such as - ease of use, instructions, benefits, and reviews.
Requirements are rapidly changing. Therefore, winning takes continuous attempts to keep up with new retail channels, search algorithm changes and consumer behaviors.
Digital shelves are dynamic and constantly changing. In 24 hours, search placements can update hundreds of times. This makes it more challenging to manage and keep up with the trends that are necessary to win.
Get a reality check into what consumers are seeing online for your products and how you measure against the competition
How Analytics Is Helping With Digital Shelf Data
There are three phases of Digital shelf data analytics. And as you analyze and track your brand's digital shelf data over time, you'll move ahead with three phases of digital performance maturity.
'What has happened?' Actual data about what has occurred in terms of online display of content, availability, portfolio, menu options and search results, social and other forms of media, including ratings & reviews? What resulting actions have been taken, and the outputs in terms of impact on ultimate sales and shopper experience.
What could happen? Based on the past activity, shopper behavioral trends and insight, pending changes (e.g. to new product launches, portfolio) and external factors (e.g. environmental events, economic forecasts/ campaigns, or changes in shopper buying attitudes and behavior to brands), predictive analytics put more focus to get informed decisions related to possible scenarios that will throw a major impact on the decisions.
What do we do from here? Prescriptive analytics defines the actions needed to deliver the best outcomes based on scenarios that occur. Leveraging what has happened online with accurate predictions enables rapid execution across replenishment, sales, marketing, merchandising, and fulfilment processes. As with any organizational function, such ability to take actions not only mitigates risk associated with events but offers a significant competitive advantage to those e-tailers and suppliers that are most prepared.
How Brands Are Winning On The Digital Shelf
Now that you understand what it is, you may be pondering how your brand can capitalize on all the digital shelf can offer. While strategies can vary across retailers and industries, typically, brands can follow these simple steps to improve their performance.
Strengthening product reviews
It is a proven technique that a big count of positive reviews can convince customers to purchase one product over the other. Hence, brands may consider incentivizing customers to leave a review after a current purchase or set up a reminder system that ping customers to leave a review after receiving the item.
Focus on most important products first
This can be conducted by identifying items with the growth rates, highest margins, search volumes, ratings or profits. Then, make this content robust and consider keywords that are most appropriate for these products. Once you have your top-most products dominating the digital shelf, then you can easily move on to the rest of your portfolio.
Don't be afraid to invest in help
From advertisement campaign management to content syndication to prescriptive analytics, there is a wide range of third-party tools and software that can be purchased to enhance your digital shelf strategy. It may take a professional eCommerce team or other resources to properly command the digital shelf across all retailers that organizations may not have access to. Still, there are plenty of external partners ready to help bridge the gaps.
Some Benefits Of Digital Shelf Analytics For Brands
Digital shelf analytics has a valuable role in helping brands manage their reseller channels and owned sites. Now let's drill down further into the four significant benefits DSA brings to the table.
1. Maximizing product 'findability.'
Consumers would not buy a product if they cannot find it. Market-leading DSAs check the product is being sold in the most logical locations and it hasn't been miscategorized. For example, a laptop computer should be listed in a home electronics category with similar products and brands. DSAs also ensure a retailer or marketplace uses the preferred keywords for your product and has the correct level of visibility on its platform to drive conversions.
Leading DSAs not only reveal your product's search ranking but also how it ranks in comparison to similar products made by your competitors. This data-driven guidance provides closed-loop feedback, letting you quickly make any adjustments to optimize revenue.
2. Harnessing innovative product information management (PIM)
The most advanced Digital Shelf Analytics solutions (DAS) allow you to control your rich product content and aware users if a retailer's site deviates from your preferred images, video and written content. When it comes to auditing your product pages, Digital Shelf Analytics providers offer more than scratch the surface. They don't check if there's an image in place, they ensure it's the right image, and any secondary images are correct as well.
The same applies to the titles, unique selling points and granular product information. This detail is checked throughout the customer's buying journey – from a category, search and product pages into their cart.
This approach has been shown to enhance conversion rates directly. The entire buyer experience needs to be optimized from search to sold. The experience is as necessary as the product or service. A poor experience can mean consumers lose trust in brands and products, increasing the likelihood that they'll abandon their cart.
Having a DSA solution integrated with your PIM means any product information changes are done seamlessly. No need to switch between different systems. Everything you need is at your fingertips.
3. Monitoring product pricing
Pricing intelligence is worth its weight in gold – no matter what sales channels you're using. The challenge with the digital shelf is that it can be vast, and prices constantly change, making human monitoring virtually impossible. DSAs, however, use artificial intelligence to analyze pricing and promotions across the digital shelf automatically. This data helps you understand how retailers are pricing your products, and it enables you to benchmark your prices against competitors.
4. Winning the ratings and reviews battle
According to research, it is suggested that 94% of online shoppers read reviews before making a purchasing decision. It also indicates a product listing with at least 5 reviews is 270% more likely to convert a customer. For a product with high pricing, this likelihood increases to 380%.
In short, online product ratings and reviews are now a big deal. DSA technology warns you when product listings don't have enough customer reviews compared to competitors' listings. It can also alert product owners of negative reviews to respond on the reseller's website, depending on on-site functionality.
Take your business performance to new heights with deeper consumer behavior insights and detailed reports
So, it can be said that having access to insights from the consumer shopping journey gives the power to influence everything along the path to purchase. Expand your brand beyond its borders by taking back control of that journey.
Our digital shelf analytics solution delivers insights across thousands of sellers and retailers to make sure that the share of search and product pages are optimized. Get in touch with our professionals and book a session today.