Stand Out Online: How to Build a Powerful Digital Bookshelf | E-commerce strategy


Maria Chatzidakis, Associate Consultant at SGK, offers five best practices for amplifying an effective digital shelf strategy.

Online spending in 2020 accounted for 21.3% of total retail sales, up from 15.8% in 2019 and 14.3% in 2018. These totals far exceed experts’ forecasts. In the current global pandemic, consumer buying habits have changed, so a brand’s e-commerce strategy must adapt to be successful in today’s digital world.

Here are five best practices for amplifying an effective digital shelf strategy.

The power of copy

Research is essential for products to reach consumers, so the digital copy of your product should be keyword rich with search terms that buyers would use to find your product. This applies not only to the title, but also to the feature bullets, product descriptions and metadata, all of which are key elements of onsite search optimization, making it easier to find the product through a Higher indexation on retailer search rankings.

Keyword rich copy isn’t just about words used to describe an item. A title can include descriptors such as flavors or benefits, which encourage clicks. A description can infuse brand tone and verbiage that engages buyers not only with the product itself, but with the brand as well. Bullets can go as far as more specific and relevant content, which promotes conversion. Copying isn’t just words, it’s also how brands use them.

Make it mobile

Consumers are increasingly browsing and shopping via their mobile devices, 63% of online shoppers watch online using a smartphone and 53% make purchases. Therefore, optimizing your brand’s mobile shopping experience to be equal or better than in person or on a desktop is just as essential. This is done by enabling rapid brand, format, variant, and size recognition to accommodate the mobile-centric ecommerce ecosystem.

Mobile-optimized copy has four components: brand recognition, product type recognition, variant recognition, and size recognition, all of which need to be amplified for the mobile-optimized hero image. According to GS1 Mobile Ready Hero Image Guidelines, optimizing a mobile hero image:
• Help consumers find the product they need more easily.
• Reduce “accidental” additions to the cart (many images of products in the same category look the same on mobile when not optimized for a smaller screen).
• Create incremental sales across all device platforms / screens including ROPO (search online, buy offline).
• Improve conversion (add to cart) on mobile.
• Improve the consistency of the presentation on mobile.
• Increase the visual appeal of main product images.

Choose the right images

A picture is worth a thousand words. For brands, an image can also make or break a sale. According to Salsify 2021 Consumer Report, 40% of consumers said product images helped them the most when deciding to buy online. Product and lifestyle images therefore need to be up-to-date, accurate and of high quality. The digital shelf should have an average of 3-4 images, a quantity preferred by 60% of US digital shoppers. The main image should be the most clickable and compelling, while the supporting gallery can include a mix of in-use images and real-life moments.

Another aspect to consider when selecting the best images for your digital shelf is that of the product to scale. With Covid preventing consumers from seeing an item in person, product size is one of the biggest areas of confusion for online shoppers.

Improve the experience

In today’s digitally native world, it’s important to demonstrate a product’s benefits and use case virtually. Rich multimedia forms such as video, CGI, and animation can help bring a product to life online.

Product videos should reinforce the images and basic points the buyer sees, as well as amplify the brand experience. Videos are particularly useful in educating consumers about the intended use of a product. A well-executed product video needs to engage, entertain, educate, and ultimately convert customers into buyers, as 76% of consumers watch product videos before they buy. CGI and animation can also help demonstrate the use of the product and its unique features.

Hear what people are saying

Reviews create traffic, conversions and increased sales, with 93% of consumers saying reviews influence their buying decisions. Therefore, collecting as many positive reviews as possible is essential. The goal is to get a minimum of 15 positive reviews and an average rating of 4 stars or more. Recency of reviews is also important, with consumers ranking it as the 5th most influential for their purchase, according to Mintel.

A section for consumer questions will also provide an overview of sources of confusion and may offer brands and retailers the opportunity to interact directly with shoppers. It’s an ideal forum for brands to respond quickly to positive and negative consumer reviews.

As consumers tend to live and buy more online, having a strong digital shelf is essential for your brand. Brands can no longer see digital shelves as an afterthought; Now is the time to fully embed a strong digital shelf strategy into your brand’s content ecosystem.

Maria Chatzidakis is associate consultant at SGK

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