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How brands can support online growth through digital shelf management

By Josi Mathar

As recently reported by The Grocer, supermarket leaders have called on the industry to supply better digital shelf data for their products to cope with the continued rise in online sales. Graham Biggart, director of commercial operations at Sainsbury’s quoted in the Grocer said

During the Covid-19 outbreak, our customer shopping habits changed and in particular we’ve seen a big increase in demand for home grocery deliveries,” 

Many FMCG brands grappling with the digital transformation may still be at a loss as to how to optimise their digital shelf content to drive greater online experiences for both the customer and the retailer. For this reason, we’re sharing our top three actions for how you can optimise your brand for the digital shelf.

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1 . Use digital shelf analytics to audit online consistency in an efficient way

Suppliers have been urged to provide more consistent and reliable data about the products they sell through retailers as some of them have seen online orders almost double since the start of the covid-19 outbreak. Graham Biggart adds

We need to provide more information, in more consistent ways, to allow customers to compare their choice of products and complete their shop quickly and conveniently.

But how do you provide more reliable and consistent data to your clients? More so, how do you do this at scale across different teams involved in the process? With digital shelf analytics. An eCommerce insights and data management tool, it will help you monitor and optimise the different elements of product data that are required and that shoppers care about such as your ingredients and product benefits. If optimised correctly, these will help you grow your brand and online sales. What’s more, with the right digital analytics provider, you’ll get automated insights that will empower your frontline teams to work with retailers, driving your category vision while at the same time supporting retailer’s to optimise their website content for general search, that is Google.

However, which digital shelf data needs optimised first — is ‘fixing the basics’ really all that needs to be done? And what does it take to create a win-win situation for you and your retail business partners?

Download the Free Gartner Report: Innovation Insight for Digital Shelf Analytics

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2. Go beyond fixing the basics and scale profitability online with digital shelf data optimisation​

We conducted a nationally representative study with YouGov UK among 2065 people and two findings stood out*: 44% of respondents somewhat agree with the statement “I click onto the product page to get more information about the product I am considering before adding to basket” and another 37% of those we asked, somewhat agreed with the statement that “the images and/ or videos that a product has help me decide whether to purchase it”. So, optimised product content has indeed a key part in ensuring your share of the online shopping basket.

To support your clients with the mutual aim to sell more online and thus meet the increasing online shopper demand, here’s a quick checklist of the essential components that are necessary. Note: the data of these components has to be high quality, accurate and web optimised for retail search to aid conversion.

Product compliance Check that details on ingredients, nutritional information, allergens and packaging materials are correct, complete and comprehensive
Product Imagery Providing web and mobile optimised imagery and, if possible, images from more than one angle; any chance you can include moving images or 360 degree? At the very least, ensure the image is clear and matches the physical product as close as possible.
Product title conventions Make sure this is to a “golden standard”, i.e. the title matches the search of your target shopper. Avoid internal wording and ensure consistency for similar products of that line. It should entail the keyword for your product like pasta or pasta sauce and your brand name.
Product description This is where you “cut two carrots with one knife”: as with the title, consider your main keyword for your product and use it in the product description as much as possible as long as it reads well. Also use this space to describe your product's benefits to appeal to your target shopper with the appropriate messaging from concerned mother’s shopping for baby food or pet owners.
Optimise for retail search Deserves a stand alone column given your optimising your title, description and compliance data, you simultaneously want to ensure it matches shoppers search terms and qualifies for a position on page one of the results page. Pro tip: this is where you can work closely with retailers as inaccurate descriptions ultimately affect their general search ranking.
Product reviews - bonus tip An untapped opportunity for brands to keep an eye on their product performance and support their digital shelf growth. Encourage product reviews and help increase your average ranking. You’ll also understand what consumers value or what to see changed. Crucially, it’s the best way to get feedback on your NPD almost in real time.

 

Becky Curtis-Hall, Customer Success Manager at e.fundamentals comments

“Your content online is akin to your brand’s packaging on the physical shelf, your shelf positioning and your aisle placement in store. You have an amazing opportunity to engage and educate shoppers with your product content across online retailers. Better product data can positively influence attention and conversion at various touch points whether it is web optimised product imagery, well-crafted marketing statements, clear item descriptions or listed ingredients that reassures shoppers about choosing your product.”

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Now you may think that you’ve been keeping an overview on all of these components already. If so, you’ve probably been doing so across a number of different data sets from various providers, stored and shared in different folders; of course a well organised Excel spreadsheet can go a long way. What if, however, you and other team members would be able to manage this information in an automated fashion from one single data source? And more so, what If you’re ready to go beyond fixing the basics and would like to monitor your pricing and promotion tactics against the competition simultaneously, have the capability to evaluate and adjust sales and marketing campaigns in real time?

As a digital shelf analytics supplier, e.fundamentals does just that: it offers this data daily, to a highly accurate standard and crucially, attuned to both brand and retailers requirements providing brand owners an efficient method to monitor product data and drive retailer compliance. Becky Curtis-Hall adds

Through a digital shelf analytics providers like e.fundamentals, brands can stay on top of the vast amounts of data needed to monitor brand execution and retail compliance without the headache of having to waste time sourcing data manually and then checking every little detail.”

For brands looking to develop strong relationships with retailers, it’s vital to find a digital shelf analytics supplier that not only delivers data, but supports businesses in building knowledge capabilities among frontline staff needed to derive insights and take profitable actions.

Read the Digital Shelf series: How to build a stronger brand online with eCommerce analytical tools, part I

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3. Empower your frontline teams and build competitive advantage with digital shelf analytics​

Today, frontline teams need to build eCommerce capabilities fast to beat the competition and succeed in generating growth on the digital shelf. There are many roadblocks to increasing conversions in the omnichannel, for one a knowledge gap between in-store experience and the still-developing grasp of how to achieve digital success. The other, being the lack of technological and operational infrastructure that delivers actionable insights. By implementing a digital shelf analytics platform that fills these gaps from day one, digital shelf growth focused businesses equip their frontline staff with the tools they need to drive online sales sustainably and at scale.

When considering a digital shelf analytics provider three things are key:

  1. It should be results-focused, effective to deploy and easily configurable with internal and external data sources
  2. Set up in a way that matches the specific roles and links seamlessly with commercial priorities of the frontline managers
  3. Is supported by digital shelf experts that deliver in-depth training aligned with commercial objectives, help establish workflows to optimise productivity with new ways of working centred around actionable insights

It’s no surprise that Andrew Hughes, director of commercial transformation at Tesco, echoes Graham Biggart words

We’ve invested in better and simple ways for products to be set up online at Tesco, but we have had some delays bringing new supply to the market because the data for these new products was sometimes incorrect or not available. Having the right information, data and images will allow us to expand and change the products we sell online more quickly and make the process as simple and smooth as possible for our customers.”

In addition to providing retail partners with accurate and compliant product data, a digital shelf analytics platform helps brands test new products, spot opportunities for growth and more so, gives the evidence for how to help retailers improve taxonomy journeys and general search.

fix the basics

Jon Sofield, an advisor to e.fundamentals in the United States, explains “people search for products by brand, item name, generic product characteristics — you name it.” And because most consumer goods brands reach shoppers via third parties such as a retailer’s website, brands rely on those retail partners to list this information accurately and effectively. Getting the data wrong, however, can be costly for new product launches and a hindrance to customer conversions. Yet, brands aren’t the only ones relying on the retailer’s to list product information correctly — Google does so too.

Google uses that very information to rank search results. So if a retailer unknowingly matches an item with the wrong image, posts an outdated description, misses the serving size or runs the wrong promotion against the wrong product, this error doesn’t just hurt the brand, it diminishes the retailer’s search rankings. With a digital analytics provider, a brand’s frontline managers become empowered to check daily on the accuracy of product information, promotional and competitor data across their key online retailers. What more, however, is the ability to support clients with their own digital shelf performance driving mutual revenue gains online.

Conclusion

Tesco and Sainsbury's have urged brands to provide more accurate information to aid the boom in online orders, calling on brands to put focus on product data basics and key details. To do so, we've listed out the top three actions brand owners can take to support their retail clients today and thus drive a win-win situation for digital shelf growth.

  1. Use digital shelf analytics to audit online consistency in an efficient way
  2. Go beyond fixing the basics and scale profitability online with digital shelf data optimisation​
  3. Empower your frontline teams and build competitive advantage with digital shelf analytics​

Do you require help with fixing the basics for your digital shelf? Maybe you’re already there and would now like to learn how digital shelf analytics can help you build out your competitive advantage? Let our digital shelf experts help you optimise your digital shelf strategy. Get in touch for an informal chat today!

 

*Nationally representative study with YouGov UK conducted 1st to 2nd July 2020.

 

 

 

 

Tags: eCommerce strategy, Brand Management

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