Digital Shelf Strategy: The Key to Commerce Success
We’ve all found ourselves wandering through stores, browsing the shelves, picking up items to check them out and deciding which to buy — and which to put back. Digital shelves work the same way but in the virtual world. Shoppers rely on this collection of digital touchpoints to engage with brands and seek, research and purchase different products.
Digital shelves can include company websites, product pages, search engines and other online content. But since we can’t physically interact with the products, brands must maintain an accurate, up-to-date data source or risk the opportunity to capitalize on this expanding digital retail space.
Why You Need a Digital Shelf
When brands execute a strong digital shelf strategy, they gain an opportunity to showcase their products and communicate with consumers along every step of their shopping journey. A well-planned digital shelf also increases a brand’s ability to make its product detail pages (PDPs) easy to find — even for shoppers not looking for a specific item or brand.
Companies should capitalize on the 90 percent of consumers using their smartphones while shopping in-store. According to research from 1WorldSync, 53 percent of these shoppers are comparing prices, 46 percent are reading customer reviews, and 35 percent are reviewing detailed product descriptions.
Just under half of U.S. shoppers who order online but pick up their products in-store purchase additional items once they walk through the door. Even though the pandemic has ended, nine out of 10 shoppers don’t plan to rely exclusively on brick-and-mortar stores for items they had previously only bought in person.
In a retail world overflowing with choices, a digital shelf is “open” 24/7 for unlimited accessibility and allows retailers to provide a constantly evolving inventory of options.
Digital Shelf Components
From discovery to purchase, shopping journeys are random and nonlinear. A well-developed digital shelf’s touchpoints must meet customers where they are — discovering, researching and shopping — on their buying journey.
In addition to enabling brands to manage product inventory, identify gaps between offline and online listings, and find — and resolve — inconsistencies among the channels, digital shelf components should include:
- hero images and other interactive imagery like 360-spins that make it easy for shoppers to quickly verify they’ve found what they’re looking for;
- product prices and promotions, using location-based data collection to customize what each shopper sees;
- PDPs, which include any product-related content like ratings and reviews, detailed descriptions and features, and rich content spreads featuring manufacturer-provided media and information;
- a search option, which has a big impact on conversion rates; and
- e-retail media advertising (e.g., banners or carousels) on the retailer website.
Also important? Data analytics. As consumer packaged goods (CPGs) evolve and shift to e-commerce systems, siloed and legacy data systems will no longer work. Retailers need a digital shelf platform offering custom analytics to generate data, insights and actionable predictions marketers rely on to develop their campaigns.
Each of the digital shelf’s parts should connect because visibility is critical to maintaining a well-functioning digital shelf. When one part isn’t managed or optimized properly, it can affect the other areas and key performance indicators.
Optimize Your Digital Shelf Strategy to Win the Market
The right digital shelf strategy drives momentum and sales growth — and it’s worth the investment and optimization for companies passionate about delivering an exceptional customer experience.
- Leveraging operational intelligence to inform marketing strategies: This strategy includes ensuring you have a centralized data source across all your channels, making it easier to automatically update content, price changes, availability, specials and more. You can collect other data, such as the influence of dynamic or promotional pricing on add-to-cart/abandoned cart rates, conversion rates, and other KPIs.
- Leveraging content intelligence to inform marketing strategies: Spend time crafting detailed, innovative, quality content to elevate your brand above the competition and meet shoppers’ expectations. Verify accuracy, timeliness and consistency of information and imagery across all channels.
- Leveraging market intelligence to inform marketing strategies: Identify the phrases and words most associated with your products and incorporate them into your search engine optimization strategy. Collect, analyze and gather insights from product feedback as well as ratings and reviews customers provide. Utilize that data to adjust the content and multimedia experiences used to engage shoppers.
- Leveraging shopper intelligence to inform marketing strategies: Use your digital shelf’s analytics to learn more about your customers’ behaviors when they’re browsing your pages and after they visit PDPs and view content. This data can include how frequently shoppers convert from visitors to buyers, how they use comparison charts on PDPs, contextual hotspots or interactive toolbars, and even how long they watch videos — and whether they finish watching or drop off early.
For any brand determined to rise above the competition, creating, optimizing and evaluating its digital shelf strategy is critical. Innovative, quality content is one part of the equation. Brands should choose a digital shelf platform designed for agility that supports continuous improvement, expansion and optimization for scalability because an optimized digital shelf has zero limits.
Randy Mercer is the vice president of global product management. He leads 1WorldSync’s global product management and solution architecture teams, aligning the company’s portfolio with current customer needs and emerging market trends.
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Randy Mercer is an omnichannel product content expert with over 15 years of industry experience. He leads 1WorldSync’s global product management and solution architecture teams, aligning the company’s portfolio with current customer needs and emerging market trends. A frequent commentator for national and trade media outlets covering retail and ecommerce news, Randy leverages his extensive background in item data and content alignment, e-commerce application development and solution design to guide 1WorldSync’s strategic product roadmap and vision.