The skill sets of commercial managers in the consumer packaged good (CPG) industry have to evolve fast to align with changing shopper behaviour. The digital shelf is predicted to remain the focus of today’s shoppers well beyond lockdown. So what sales optimisation tactics can commercial managers apply to boost their conversions across online retailers? We’ve asked our ecommerce experts in the Customer Success team to share their advice. Read on and bookmark this article; the following 5 sales optimisation tactics will last well beyond any crisis.
Your brand's visibility on a retailer’s website is of crucial importance to driving sales on the digital shelf: when shoppers perform a search on the retailer’s site, opportunities to convert decline dramatically if your product appears on page three and below the competition. You want to be seen on the first page of their search results through an effective eCommerce marketing strategy..
“Optimising for this search ranking is key to driving visibility and more so to significantly impact your brand’s ability to increase sales” comments Amanda Critchley, Customer Success Director at e.fundamentals.
Furthermore, focusing on digital shelf visibility ensures you are positioning yourself against your competitors. There is a limited number of spaces available on page one of a retailer's search results for any given term. Keyword optimisation on your product names and descriptions therefore prevents your competitors stealing a march. Our experts help brands understand the keyword search terms shoppers use every day and how to optimise their products for retail search.
“Half your sales online will come from search and improving your retail search ranking is the single easiest way of growing sales today and favourites tomorrow”, explains Amanda Critchley, Customer Success Director.
But there’s more: a) being found in more searches and b) being found in the right searches adds Becky Curtis-Hall, another eCommerce expert in our Customer Success team. Optimising for search on retailers websites is a balancing act between your brand’s key products being present in the right category searches e.g. your highest profit SKU being present in the biggest search at position 2, versus making sure the tail of your portfolio is present in the specific searches.
“Once you understand the mix of these and the value that they play in your strategy you can start understanding which need attention first as they have the biggest gap and highest importance”, Becky Curtis-Hall, Customer Success Manager argues.
With the e.fundamentals platform we track search terms for our clients and prioritise them as part of their personalised set-up to allow easy understanding of exactly what it is they need to focus on. Becky Curtis-Hall illustrates this with an example demonstrating the search optimisation focused fundamental Easy to Buy, one of our 8 fundamentals in the framework.
“With easy to buy, our clients can quickly see what products are ranking by retailers or search terms. In the image shown we can see clearly that the product in position 2 “Magnum Ice Cream Classic 4x110ml” has been ranking consistently in position 4 for several weeks and an increase in rankings for the term “Ice Cream” coincided with a price cut promotion. Our tool helps our clients see where they rank vs where they think they rank. Informing current performance and highlighting potential drops or gains in visibility due to in category changes.“
Scrutinise your product description pages against relevant keywords and check your product’s shopper ratings and reviews. Improving both can impact rankings positively.
To make your brand stand out on the digital shelf, look no further than your product imagery and content. As your second key sales optimisation tactic, image optimisation can considerably improve your conversion: 67% of consumers state that the quality of a product image is “very important” to them when selecting and purchasing a product. Similarly to how a brand would pay great attention to designing packaging and ensuring the details match the shoppers’ expectations in store, attention to high quality imagery and its digital presentation on a retailer’s search page is essential to drawing attention.
After all, shopping online is about convenience. A major element that’s missing from the digital shelf shopping experience is the ability to touch your product. To substitute this, brands can leverage outstanding imagery, ideally from multiple angles to fill this immanent gap. Enhancing the design element with detailed product descriptions can further entice shoppers to purchase your product. Make it clear and easily accessible, shoppers will more likely become repeat purchasers.
It is vital that the shopper can tell straight away what your product is, what it contains, how it meets their needs, what pack or format it is in and how it should be consumed. Getting the basics across your product portfolio implemented well is the key to executing an effective eCommerce strategy.
To understand the effectiveness of your promotions and how it influences shopper behaviour, you need to look at your category as a whole.
With our retail analytics tool, you can view both a complete calendar of promotions in your category and pricing over time. Customer Success Manager Becky Curtis-Hall illustrates this point with an example looking at the fundamental Winning Campaigns which gives you this holistic view.
“In this example of our product, if you were a competitor brand to the product displayed you could see that in the later part of March promotions decreased. Putting this trend into action you’d adjust your promotional plan accordingly and shift some of your future activity into late March.”
Product conversions can only happen when you’re in stock. Challenges such as COVID-19 have impacted global supply chains. If a large proportion of your sales go through Amazon e.g. you may have struggled to get deliveries into their warehouses in recent weeks.
Customer Success Manager Becky Curtis-Hall illustrates the importance of the Availability report in this example:
“Looking at the below chart you’ll notice the colour coding which gives you an at-a-glance-view of which products are green (In Stock), yellow (Out of Stock) or red (Delisted). The action I’d take is to ensure that none of my products were in the yellow bar (Out of Stock) to prevent them of sliding into the red bar in the future”
With Amazon you run the risk of being delisted when out of stock, the Availability report helps you identify the risks to your range on Amazon.
What’s more, this report can show you by retailer which of your competitor’s products are out of stock and thus offering a good opportunity to make commercial changes to pounce on the opportunity. A key competitor being out of stock can also act as a potential early warning that demand will be stronger on your product lines.
Pure plays such as Amazon and Ocado, have unique challenges and also unique opportunities. For the vast majority of Bricks and Clicks promotions have to run across both online and instore. Pure play offers the opportunity to run online promotions that won't affect in store and are more versatile in the types of bundles that are on offer, particularly in Ocado.
On Amazon, sellers compete for the Buy Box as notably 82% of Amazon sales happen at this point. Adjusting your performance variables to Amazon's algorithm will increase your chances of being awarded the precious Buy Box.
Ecommerce has become the New Normal overnight. It requires brands to pay careful attention to the supply chain, listings, promotions and their digital shelf strategy as a whole. For commercial teams looking to grow their online sales on retailer’s websites now and in future, we’ve provided the following fives sales optimisation tactics:
These actions will set any CPG brand on the right process to winning online. For those CPG brands however that are really looking to unlock online growth, partnering with a strategic eCommerce analytics platform supplier such as e.fundamentals will enable a faster route to success across online retail.
We’re dedicated to unlocking growth opportunities for you online. Get in touch today to discuss your business needs with our eCommerce experts.