Online spending in 2020 accounted for 21.3% of total retail sales, up from 15.8% in 2019 and 14.3% in 2018. These totals far outperform expert predictions. In the ongoing global pandemic, consumer shopping habits have changed, so your brand’s ecommerce strategy must adapt to succeed in today’s digital world.
These are five best practices to amplify an effective digital shelf strategy.
The Power of Copy
Searchability is essential for products to reach consumers, so your product’s digital shelf copy should be keyword rich with search terms that shoppers would use to find your product. This applies not only to the title, but also the feature bullets, product descriptions and metadata, all of which are key elements of site search optimization (SSO), allowing the product to be more easily found due to higher indexing on retailer search rankings.
Keyword-rich copy is more than just the words used to describe an item. A title can include descriptors like flavors or benefits, which encourage click-through. A description can infuse brand tonality and verbiage that engages buyers not only with the product itself but also with the brand. Bullet points can drill down to more specifics and relevant content, which help drive conversion. Copy is more than just words—it’s also how brands use them.
Make it Mobile
Consumers are increasingly browsing and purchasing via their mobile devices, with 63% of online shoppers look online using a smartphone and 53% making purchases. Therefore, it’s as essential to optimize your brand’s mobile shopping experience to be equal or better than in-person or on a computer. This is done by enabling quick recognition of the brand, format, variant, and size to accommodate mobile-first ecommerce ecosystem.
There are four components of mobile optimized copy: brand recognition, product type recognition, variant recognition, and size recognition, all of which must be amplified for the mobile optimized hero image. According to the GS1 Mobile Ready Hero Image Guidelines, optimizing a mobile hero image will:
- Help consumers find the product they need more easily
- Reduce accidental adds to cart (many product images in the same category look the same on mobile when not optimized for the smaller screen)
- Create incremental sales across all platforms/device screens, including ROPO (research online, purchase offline)
- Improve conversion (add to cart) on mobile
- Improve the consistency of presentation on mobile
- Increase the visual appeal of main product images
Selecting the Right Images
A picture speaks a thousand words. For brands, a picture can also make or break a sale. According to Salsify 2021 Consumer Report, 40% of consumers said that product images help them most when deciding to buy online, so both product and lifestyle images on should be up-to-date, accurate, and high-quality. The digital shelf should feature an average of 3-4 images, an amount preferred by 60% of U.S. digital shoppers. The primary image should be the most clickable and compelling, while the supporting gallery can include a mix of in-use and real-life moment images.
Another aspect to consider when selecting the best images for your digital shelf is that of the product at scale. With COVID preventing consumers from viewing an item in person, product size is one of the biggest areas of confusion for online shoppers.
Enhance the Experience
In today’s digitally native world, it is important to virtually demonstrate a product’s benefits and use case. Rich media forms such as video, CGI and animation can help bring a product to life online.
Product videos should reinforce the imagery and basic bullets the shopper sees, as well as amplify the brand experience. Videos are especially helpful for teaching consumers about the intended use of a product. A well-executed product video should engage, entertain, educate, and ultimately convert customers to buyers, as 76% of consumers watch product videos before purchasing, according to BrightCove. CGI and animation can also help demonstrate product use and unique features.
Hear What People Are Saying
Reviews create traffic, conversion, and sales uplift, with 93% of consumers saying that reviews influence their purchase decisions. Therefore, garnering as many positive reviews as possible is essential. The goal is to gain a minimum of 15 positive reviews and an average rating of 4 stars or above. The recency of reviews also matters, with consumers ranking it as fifth-most influential to their purchase, according to Mintel.
A section for consumer questions will also provide insight into where confusion lies and can offer an opportunity for brands and retailers to engage directly with shoppers. It’s an ideal forum for brands to respond to both positive and negative consumer feedback quickly.
As consumers trend toward living and shopping more online, it is critical for your brand to have a strong digital shelf. Brands can no longer view digital shelves as an afterthought; now is the time to fully integrate a strong digital shelf strategy into your brand’s content ecosystem.
Maria Chatzidakis is an Associate Consultant with SGK