3 Steps of Digital Shelf Optimization To Win More Sales

3 Steps of Digital Shelf Optimization To Win More Sales
Ramesh Karki | May 18, 2021

What is Digital Shelf?

The digital shelf is the online version of how and where a particular brand’s products are shown online. And Digital Shelf Optimization is the process of continuously optimizing your brand’s presence on the digital shelf to be prominent across channels. It is the process of increasing your brand visibility by optimizing for both search engines as well as for digital shoppers.

Why is Digital Shelf optimization important?

Shoppers use the digital shelf to surf, find, compare, and purchase the products. It is typically where the digital shopper interacts with your products online, which can be everywhere from search engine platforms such as Google and Bing to online marketplaces like Amazon Walmart, and Target in addition to brand websites, social media sites, reviews sites, category pages, and product pages.

Digital shelf optimization is extremely important because it determines whether your product can be found or not during a digital shopper’s purchase journey. It provides an opportunity for brands to showcase their products to the shopper during the various stages of the purchase journey to win more sales.

The first page of Google captures almost 90% of search traffic clicks. On Amazon, 45% of the shoppers do not scroll past the 2nd page of the search result. Therefore, it’s important to optimize your brand’s presence on the digital shelf, so that you show up on the 1st page, or better yet, above the fold of the 1st page.

Another reason digital shelf optimization is important is due to the evolution in the shoppers’ journey. The traditional purchase journey from interest to research to consideration to decision/purchase is still true, however, it’s a bit messier which Google calls the ‘messy middle’. This concept acknowledges that the shopper journey is not linear, and there is so much that happens in between the trigger (need/interest) for a product before the purchase actually takes place.

As the eCommerce space gets more competitive, occupying the best digital shelf space becomes harder. This means that brands/retailers have to use the best tools and software such as online Marketing Intelligence, to stay current, keep up with the fast-evolving trends, and gain the right data insights to make their digital footprint more effective and lucrative.

How can Marketing Intelligence help in Digital Shelf optimization?

Improve your channel Share of Voice

With the increase of informed digital shoppers and the increase of eCommerce competitors; the complexity of getting your brand’s products in front of the shopper has increased as well. These days, simply having a presence on one platform is not enough, as shoppers are researching for products across platforms and channels (such as Google, Bing, Amazon, etc.), before deciding. As a result, brands must try to improve their share of voice across all channels. Search Marketing Intelligence & Marketplace Marketing Intelligence helps brands understand what percentage of the digital shelf they are covering for a specific keyword, across all search engines and marketplaces respectively.

We don’t just provide visibility into your position, but also insights on what area you can improve on, in addition to what could be the right content to focus on, to increase your share of voice. It’s imperative to perform a competitive SERP Analysis to find out exactly who your competitors are for specific keywords, what kind of results are showing up for specific keywords, what type of content to plan for, and where the greatest opportunities lie.

Marketing Intelligence provides holistic granular visibilities to help spot patterns on what campaigns are working and what are not. It can give you a better understanding of your presence – not just across various channels – but across various SERP components within these channels. This granular level of data will help you understand how to get featured in the exact SERP features that can increase your brand’s product visibility.

For example: In the Apparel and Accessories category, the type of questions asked on the ‘People Also Ask’ feature of Google in March 2021 were split as follows:

People also ask

Understanding what SERP features are popular now and which features are trending up, allows your brand to get ahead of your competitors and skyrocket to the top of the first page. These types of insights help brands like yours (or your clients) decide where they need to increase their prominence to ensure their product/brand is more visible than their competitors.

Optimize for “messy middle”

As mentioned above, the shopper journey is not straightforward. The are many twists and turns afoot while going from need/want to purchase. An eCommerce statistics study reports, the average time between a Google product search to actually buying a product is 20 days and around 26 days on Amazon. Digital shoppers are doing their due diligence by reading informational sites, reviews, looking at multiple platforms, social media sites, brands, and more before deciding. Search Engines are doing their best to write algorithms to best estimate the intent of the searches and providing the digital shopper with the best list of results.

Therefore, it is not enough for a brand to just focus and optimize for a specific SERP feature anymore. Brands need to spread their efforts across the shopper journey. This could mean enlisting on review sites, aggregator sites, content syndication sites, etc. Generating and optimizing for multiple contents that address the informational needs of a shopper at different segments of the journey is almost a necessity to increase market share in the ‘messy middle’.

For example: When we search for ‘wireless headphones’, the search result present as follows:

Messi Middle search result

Therefore, as a brand, it is important to not just try to get your website into the SERP, but it is vital to have contents that are optimized to show up on review sites and other retail sites as well, so that the number of times your product/brand is seen by the digital shopper increases, thus increasing your brand visibility.

Improve the buy-ability of products

Now that you have done all the hard work and are in front of the shoppers, you may still be losing out on the last part of the shopper journey, which is the purchase, due to your competition having better quality images, better flowing websites, reviews, etc, which is another aspect of the digital shelf – product attributes.

Product Marketing Intelligence provides insights to improve the buy-ability of your products. It offers visibility and understanding into the attributes that help your brand’s product stand out from the competition and tempts the shopper to purchase your brand’s product over the rest. It helps you find gaps in content and utilize opportunities to better engage digital shoppers. It’s important to proactively analyze ad extensions by industry and keywords, rather than reactively analyzing and experimenting on winning combinations. This tool gives you an edge over your competitors.

For example, The use of Google Shopping Ad Extensions in the Apparel and Accessories category in March 2021 is shown in the image below.

Use of google shopping ad extensions - digital shelf optimization

Another way to improve your buy-ability is by enriching product titles and descriptions with keywords such as brand name, variants (color, material, size), demography (age, gender), model number, manufacturer part number, etc. These features not only increase Ad Impressions, but also reduce Max Bid for better Ad Rank while increasing your Quality Score, for those important keywords which your digital shopper most likely use in their search queries.

For example, We performed an analysis on one of our clients in the Apparel industry and provided a detailed insight into their product features (price, keyword relevancy, reviews, ratings, promotions, descriptions, etc.) that influence the buy-ability of their products on Google as well as Amazon.

Product Detail Page Scoring of Google and Amazon - Product Marketing Intelligence

In Conclusion

Google, Amazon, and other platform algorithms are constantly making changes to their SERP Presence. With almost real-time visibility on macro and microdata, you can see trends and get ahead of the curve. Marketing Intelligence is the perfect tool to help you optimize your digital shelf. Our blend of cutting-edge automation and human intelligence gives you the ability to make the right decisions for your brand to increase the share of voice across channels.

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