Digital Shelf Analytics: How to track the digital shelf
May 9, 2023
Digital Shelf Analytics: How to track the digital shelf
Digital shelf analytics is a key part of optimising the digital shelf. It allows you to do two things. Identify opportunities to improve the digital shelf. And to create benchmarks against which to measure the success of any changes.
Once you have identified any gaps in the digital shelf and got your benchmarks in place – you now have the data to create an actionable plan with which to win the digital shelf.
In this article we look at how to monitor the digital shelf and create a set of comprehensive digital shelf analytics to meet the needs of your business.
We will cover:
- What is the aim of digital shelf analytics?
- Different ways to track the digital shelf
- How to use digital shelf analytic tools
- How to manually track the digital shelf
- How often you should monitor the digital shelf
- Digital shelf analytics tools vs manual tracking
The aim of a digital shelf analytics is to create a set of KPIs to track the different elements that make up the digital shelf. For example, content, price, visibility, ratings, and availability.
These KPIs will give you a benchmark with which you can measure the success of any further optimisation. As well as seeing where you are performing well and where you have room for growth.
For example, you might see that your products have great visibility and are getting plenty of traffic. But they are missing the most up-to-date product images. And as a result, are not converting that traffic into sales as efficiently as they could.
In this case the action would be to update the product images to increase conversion, and therefore increase revenue.
The key to this example is that the data drove an action that led to an increase in revenue.
Different ways to track the digital shelf
There are two main ways to track the digital shelf. You can carry out a manual audit. Where you go through your product portfolio product by product to review all the different elements that make up the digital shelf.
Below, we go into more detail below on how to put into place these two approaches – as well as their pros and cons.
How to use a digital shelf analytic tool to monitor the digital shelf
A digital shelf analytics tool can be a great way to keep track of your digital shelf. These tools will provide you with a dashboard and metrics on all aspects of the digital shelf. This allows you to quickly spot gaps and areas for improvement.
Popular digital shelf analytic tools and trackers include:
- Ecommerce Insights by NIQ Brandbank
- Edge by Ascential
With so many options for monitoring the digital shelf it can be difficult to know where to start. We advise you chat to several different providers to find the right solution for you, as we don’t believe there is one provider that suits all needs.
To get you started though some key questions we recommend you asking when choosing your digital shelf analytics tool are:
- How is the price calculated?
- Some providers calculate price based on the number of products you wish to track, other providers base it on the number of retailers you track, while others use a mix of the two to come up with a final quote.
- Can I track all the elements of the digital shelf I want to track?
- Are the key parts of the digital shelf for your business measured.
- How is digital shelf visibility measured?
- Providers often use a wide variety of different calculations for measuring visibility. Some of these can be quite complex. So, it is worth taking the time to understand how this metric is being generated.
- Can it be linked to your PIM system?
- Some tools can be linked to your product information system. This can be a great way to link the tool that tracks your product accuracy with the system that stores your content.
- How difficult is the tool to set up?
- The set-up of an analytic tool can often define how useful it is for your business. No matter how powerful a digital shelf analytics tool is. If it is poorly set-up it will provide low quality data or be difficult for your teams to use. Reducing its value to your business. Taking the time to set-up a tool properly, and upskilling your teams in its use, will be a vital factor in its success.
- Is the data actionable?
How to manually track the digital shelf
The alternative to a digital shelf tracking tool is to carry out a manual audit of your digital shelf. This is a reasonably straightforward (albeit time-consuming process). The steps are:
Define which digital shelf you would like to track
This could be the digital shelf of your own website, but is more commonly the digital shelf of the biggest marketplace or distributor for your product
Define what parts of the digital shelf you would like to measure
These could be any parts of the digital shelf. However, we would strongly recommend starting with your products content, availability, ratings, price and how visible your product is when searched.
Generate a keyword list
These are search terms that your customers use for searching for products in your category. In this case, this list should not include competitor brand names – as you cannot use competitor keywords in your product copy.
A useful tool for generating eCommerce specific keywords is keywordtool.io. If you are selling on Amazon, you can also use the data available in Amazon’s vendor central, or tools such as Stackline and Helium10.
Carry out your digital shelf audit
Now you have defined which digital shelf you wish to track, what analytics you wish to collect and built your keyword list it is time to start your audit.
- How to track price, availability and ratings: This is the most straightforward part of your audit. Simply go through your product catalogue product by product and record if your product is available online (yes or no), the product rating (quantity and quality) and the product price.
- How to track content: Your product copy and images are a bit more challenging to review.
- For images you’ll want to make sure your latest pack shot is live. As well as that you have supporting images that highlight your product benefits. To really take your audit to the next level you can even check if your pack shots meet the eCommerce guidelines defined by GS1
- For copy you should refer to your keyword list you generated. Here, you want to make sure not only is your product description an accurate reflection of your product. But that you have enriched the copy with keywords that shoppers use to find products online. This will help to optimise the product for search visibility.
- How to track search visibility: This is the most challenging element to track. Our advice is to keep it as simple as possible.
- Refer to your keyword list and choose the five keywords with the highest search volume. Then enter these keywords into the search bar of the digital shelf you are tracking. Ideally while using your browsers incognito mode. Then record if your products appear in the top three results on the page, the top ten results on the page, or not at all.
- From here you can generate a score out of five for how visible your product is online. For example, if your product appears in the top three results for three keywords, and the top 10 results for four keywords – then your products search visibility is 3/5 for top three visibility and 4/5 for top 10 visibility.
Review the results
Review the results of your audit to identify any easy steps you can take to optimise the digital shelf. The key part of your analysis is to create next steps and actions that you can follow up.
How often should you monitor the digital shelf
The answer to how often you should monitor the digital shelf is based on how quickly you can make changes the digital shelf.
The reason we track the digital shelf is to analyse the results of changes and to recalibrate based on the outcome.
This means if you are making daily changes then you might need to track the digital shelf in real-time. However, if you are simply updating your content on an annual basis then a yearly audit is more than sufficient.
Digital shelf analytic tools vs manual digital shelf audits
Choosing between carrying out manual audits of the digital shelf and using a digital shelf analytics tool will depend on your business needs, resources and objectives.
Overall, we always recommend carrying out an initial manual audit. This process will give you a detailed view on exactly what is happening on the digital shelf, and importantly supply you the context around the metrics provided in a digital shelf analytics tool dashboard.
After this we would suggest only using manual audits if you only rarely update your digital shelf content and product prices.
Otherwise, we would strongly recommend looking into a digital shelf analytics tool.
The Richmond Marketing Consultancy works with companies that need to optimise their online digital shelf. We can use our experience to help you every step-of-the-way from an initial digital shelf audit to actioning digital shelf optimisations and upskilling your marketing teams. If you need help with your digital shelf please get in touch