How to win the digital shelf: What tactics are right for you?

Win the digital shelf graphic

How to win the digital shelf: What tactics are right for you?

In simplest terms, we can think of winning the digital shelf in the same ways we think about winning the physical shelf. How do we make the right product as visible and appealing as possible to the shopper to encourage a purchase.

In a physical store this could take the form of trying to have our product placed at eye-level on the shelf and in high traffic areas of the shop; or using stand out packaging with killer claims to catch the customer’s eye.

With the digital shelf we can use even more elaborate tactics to draw the attention of the shopper. What these tactics are and how they work will vary depending on the type of digital shelf and eCommerce website.

However, to give us a structure to winning the digital shelf – we can use something called the eCommerce equation to group these tactics into a few buckets.


Using the Ecommerce equation to win the digital shelf

So, what is the eCommerce equation? The eCommerce equation is a way we can think about how to optimise our eCommerce offering. At its heart is the idea that at its absolute simplest eCommerce can be boiled down to an equation.

Revenue = traffic x conversion x price

This means to maximise our revenue we are looking to do three things:

  • Increase our traffic
  • Improve our conversion
  • Control our price

In effect these are the three factors that will increase our online revenue and therefore win the digital shelf.

So, when we build our plan for the tactics to win the digital shelf. We can think of which tactics at our disposal are going to make the biggest changes to our products traffic, conversion or price.


The tactics to win the digital shelf

So now we have defined the three factors (traffic, conversion and price) we can impact to lead a customer to purchase and drive revenue.

What are the digital shelf tactics that play into each of those factors.

What are the tactics that are going to increase traffic to our products, increase the conversion rate of our product detail pages (PDPs) and allow us to charge a higher price. Let’s look at each one in turn.

1. How to drive greater traffic to your products

When driving increased traffic to our products we can think of this traffic in two ways. Traffic that originates offsite and traffic that originates onsite.

Offsite traffic is traffic that comes from outside the digital shelf ecosystem. For example, if we are looking at our products on Amazon. Then offsite traffic could be traffic from outside of Amazon, such as a PPC campaign we are running or our brand website that clicks through to Amazon.

Onsite traffic on the other hand is traffic that originates inside the retailer ecosystem. In an Amazon case, this might be from using Amazon Advertising’s sponsored product feature. Sponsored Products give our products greater visibility in the Amazon search results therefore driving users already on Amazon to our products.

 Common digital shelf tactics used to drive these two types of traffic include:

Offsite traffic

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

With an SEO campaign you can use your brand website to pick up on search engine traffic for searches related to your product. If you have a direct-to-consumer website you can then convert this traffic directly on your site, or alternatively you can push this traffic out from your brand website to an eRetailer website.

PPC advertising

Like SEO you can use PPC advertising to pick up on search engine traffic and drive to it to your products on the digital shelf.

Social media

 Leveraging your social channels can be a great way to drive external traffic to your digital shelf. Alternatively, some eRetailers offer collaborative partnerships where you can use their social channels to drive traffic to your products.

Above the line advertising

 If we think wider outside of the digital ecosystem, any above the line advertising (TV, radio, print, etc.) that builds your brand will help to drive traffic to your digital shelf. Ideally you should coordinate any digital shelf activations to make sure you are amplifying the impact of your above the line activations as much as possible.

Onsite traffic

Search optimisation

Just like we can search engine optimise a website in Google, we can search optimise a product for a retailer search engine. This involves identifying search terms the shopper uses to shop your category and enriching your product content with these keywords.

Retailer paid search

Again, like PPC on Google, many retailers now offer their own paid search tools for within their retailer ecosystems. Common systems you might come across are Amazon Advertising’s sponsored products and brands, as well as Criteo and Citrus.

Retail media

Many retailers offer a catalogue of tactics for driving increased traffic to your product. As the price and effectiveness of these tactics can vary widely, it is worth taking these on a retailer-by-retailer basis to choose the tactics that are right for you.


2. How to improve conversion rate

The next element of the eCommerce equation you can influence is conversion. To increase our conversion rate, we can look at a number of tactics:

Product copy

Is your product copy well optimised? Your product copy should be written not just to improve your search visibility – but to encourage a shopper to purchase. It should show your brand name, what your product does, your product benefits and the amount of product in the pack (e.g., 100ml).

Product images

Your product images are both the main pack shot you use for your product and the supporting images.

As most consumers will shop visually – strong imagery is a great way to convey important information. Including what your product it is, what the quantity is and what are the product benefits.

A pack shot as one of the first parts of your product that a customer will notice. A well optimised online pack shot has been shown to give a sales uplift of up-to 24%.

Ratings and reviews

Shoppers are heavily influenced by the purchasing behaviours of other. So having product reviews will increase your conversion rate online.

This is influenced by both the quality and quantity of reviews. Overall, 4.75 – 4.99 stars is the optimal product rating for conversion, with products in this band having the highest conversion rates.


3. How to control your price online

The final factor you can control in the eCommerce mix is the price of your product.

This can be a challenging factor to control online – especially if you sell across multiple marketplaces and use multiple distributors.

One way to keep track of your price is to use a digital shelf analytics tool. This can track your own products price (as well as competitors) to help you develop a coherent pricing strategy.

We recommend planning out your product price and promotion across all your online channels in one place. This will help you to avoid channel conflict and coordinate with any above the line activity you might be running.


How to choose which digital shelf to win on: The retailer ecosystem

Thinking of your strategy to win the digital shelf in terms of the eCommerce equation can be a great way to start planning your strategy. Breaking your tactics down into whether they are driving traffic, increasing conversion or controlling the price of your product.

However, you might notice these plans can get very complex very quickly. Especially when you are working on multiple digital shelves across several marketplaces, retailers, and internal teams. This can make hard to focus down on what digital shelf to really ‘win’ on.

A way to deal with this is to think about each retailer as its own ecosystem. With each retailer ecosystem having different tactics and strategies, as well as different benefits and drawbacks.

Some retailer ecosystems for example might have fantastic conversion rates, but might give you a smaller margin.

Other retailers might have mountains of traffic for your products, but the retail media tactics needed to win in that ecosystem could be out of your price range.

Taking the time to map out each retailer’s ecosystem and how it fits your overall digital shelf strategy can be a great way to prioritise winning the digital shelves that most fit your business objectives. Ultimately driving the greatest revenue for your products.

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