Digital shelf management: How brands can support online growth

    December 16, 2022

    This article has been updated and originally published December 2022.

    The digital transformation continues to cause consumer brands a collective headache.

    While business understand the need, they’re still struggling with the ‘how-to’ for building capabilities and accelerating ecommerce skills. But consumer brands can’t afford to slow down when the competition on the digital shelf is growing. Disrupters and established brands are on a daily race to win first-page search results.

    For this reason, we’re sharing our top three actions for how you can optimize your brand for the digital shelf.

    1 . Use digital shelf analytics to audit online content consistency 

    Product content is key to respond to consumer needs and shopping missions. Incorrect or outdated data can lead brands to lose much more than ‘just a sale’. An ecommerce insights and data management tool, digital shelf analytics help you monitor and optimize the different elements of product data that are required and that shoppers care about such as your ingredients and product benefits. If optimized correctly, these will help you grow your brand and online sales. What’s more, with the right digital shelf 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 optimize their website content also for general search, such as Google.

    However, which digital shelf data should brands optimize 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?

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

    It’s no longer enough to have an image and title against a price. Today, consumer brands have to be highly strategic about the role product content management plays in their digital shelf growth strategy. As indicated, having correct product content will help you and your retail partners drive growth.

    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 device optimized for retail search to help with 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 optimized 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.
    Optimize 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  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 new product launch almost in real time.

    Product content is a great opportunity to engage with your shoppers and educate them about your brand. 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?

    CommerceIQ 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. Josi Mathar, Content Marketing Manager at CommerceIQ,

    “With CommercIQ Digital Shelf Analytics consumer 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. In fact, the platform’s latest feature Content Optimization helps streamline workflows to fix broken content and uses generative AI to suggest content improvements. ”

    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 with actionable insights and in building ecommerce capabilities among teams needed to take profitable actions.

    3. Empower your 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

    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.

    US-based Jon Sofield, a then advisor to e.fundamentals, the business CommerceIQ acquired in summer 2022, 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. And with the rise of generative AI, we’re set to watch the affect on SEO and retailer websites.

    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.

    Winning in online retail with digital shelf analytics

    The digital transformation continues to evolve at rapid pace. Consumer brands looking to drive growth and steal market share rely on actionable insights to adjust to shopper habits in near-real time. A cornerstone for building brand equity and deliver value to shoppers, brands must focus on managing product detail pages continuously and proactively. To help brands do so, we’ve listed out the top three actions any brand can take today to foster closer relationships with retailer partners and create a win-win situation for digital shelf growth.

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

    Want to see CommerceIQ Digital Shelf Analytics in action? Book a demo and see your ecommerce results soar!



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