Solving 5 challenges for every touchpoint with Digital Shelf Analytics

4 mins

What Is The Digital Shelf? 

Imagine you are walking through a traditional retail store. As you are strolling through an aisle, you see products on display alongside their competitors. Your decision to buy one brand over another ultimately comes down to what you see. For the purposes of making a sale, if it’s not on the shelf, it may as well not exist. 

The digital shelf runs on the same principle for eCommerce. Imagine everywhere your products get displayed online as the digital shelf. It’s the search results page, product pages on your site, third-party marketplace listings, email marketing and review blogs. Any visual touchpoint where customers can browse, discover, and ultimately choose to purchase your products is part of the digital shelf. 

If that sounds like a broad definition to you, you’d be right. Making sure your products feature prominently on the digital shelf takes serious effort, but the rewards are considerable.

Why Is The Digital Shelf Important? 

When your products appear front and centre on the digital shelf, they’re catching people at the most critical point in their customer journey. Sales happen when customers are taking active steps to research products, or when the awareness and willingness to address their needs are highest. 

Winning the digital shelf puts you in the strongest position to convert. The majority of customers will only view the first page of search results, so being up there helps sell more. Once you’ve got that raw volume of eyeballs on your wares, you need to be sure your presence on the shelf is polished. 

More than 60% of people look at reviews before making their mind up about a brand. 73% demand in-depth product descriptions, a key factor in making their purchase decision. Time spent working on these touchpoints is time spent leveraging the most rewarding interactions, both from your perspective and your customers. 

Also remember that eCommerce and traditional retail don’t exist in two separate universes. 60% of people are on their smartphones researching products while they’re browsing in your store. 69% would prefer to read online reviews and product descriptions rather than talk to your sales assistants… nothing personal, we’re sure. 

Winning the digital shelf gives more of your customers more of what they want, bringing you more sales both on and offline. So why isn’t everyone doing it?

5 challenges to winning the digital shelf 

Optimising every visual touchpoint to maximise your brand’s shelf space is a mighty task. It takes a clear, researched strategy and proactive support within your organisation. Success means overcoming a number of practical challenges. 

1 Lack Of Standardisation 

Every platform your brand decides to partner with is going to have its own set of standards. Truly winning the digital shelf demands optimising your listings on each one. For mature organisations selling across potentially dozens of partners and marketplaces, that can take a lot of time and effort. 

2 The Limitations Of Digital 

eCommerce isn’t without its issues. Browsing online, customers can’t physically hold a product in their hands. They can’t easily get a feel for size, quality of build, or usability. Key information on the product’s benefits isn’t there on the box for them to read. It’s vital you include all the info they need in the item’s description. 

3 An Ongoing Ecommerce Arms Race 

What customers expect from eCommerce businesses is evolving all the time. Standards rise higher and higher, so it becomes even more difficult to optimise across multiple platforms. As soon as you’ve taken the lead in one marketplace, a competitor might overtake you in another. Winning the digital shelf is a continual process.

4 The Rules Of The Game Are Changing 

Not only do you have the pull factor of chasing customer expectations, but there’s also a push coming from your partner platforms themselves. Changes to their algorithms or policies might drastically affect the amount of shelf space your products can win. Again, it’s a long-term job to track and adapt to these changes. 

5 Inventory Gets Tricky To Manage 

The more platforms you’re active on, the more momentum you have to take up more of the shelf. But selling in many different places via different fulfilment models makes it harder to track in-stock and sell-through rates. This is especially true if you’ve slowly added more partner platforms over time, which makes it trickier to remain consistent. 

Those are the five challenges we hear most about from brands trying to win more visibility for their products and make more sales.

To learn more, speak with a ChannelSight representative today.

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