Every marketer faces different challenges unique to their industry, though all typically share similar goals. Some marketers are stuck on lead generation, others have trouble converting leads into customers. And then there are those who cannot generate enough interest in their product or service in the first place.
There is, however, constant scope to optimise the various components of your strategy and turn your marketing, advertising and communication into even more effective revenue generators.
The full shopper experience
The core of the shopper decision-making process is usually the price. This means retailers and manufacturers need to spend a lot of time collecting prices and other retailer data, such as product images and descriptions. Lines need to be
mapped carefully against competitors, so that FMCG and general merchandise marketers, product managers and ecommerce directors can act on the data.
This data should be captured from online retailers on a daily basis, providing an understanding of the full shopper experience. This should encompass not just the headline price of the product, but how the product is presented, reviewed and searched, enabling retailers and manufacturers to get a full overview of their product and where they need to make changes.
It is important to have insight on competitors’ base price changes, breaking promotions, new listings and changes in strategy. This will help marketers react quicker to competitor price changes and promotional activity. Manufacturers and suppliers can then collate both the price of competitor products and the price of their own lines across multiple websites.
Online price optimisation
In the digital space, understanding how price mechanics work online and understanding who is responsible for the first move in reducing price is critical. Often, it is a small, independent reseller discounting a core line. It may be doing this via Amazon Marketplace or through its own web presence.
Either way, Amazon or other Amazon Marketplace sellers will react very quickly. The marketer, product manager or ecommerce director will receive a call from the buyer at their biggest retail customer, asking tricky questions.
At the very least, simply being aware of this is an advantage. But it is also important to develop a long-term plan to work in different ways with distributors who service those smaller accounts.
Pricing is one of the most powerful and effective ways to achieve profitable growth. Often, the retailers with whom you have key account relationships are those who are presenting your brand in the correct way. This will be the last retailer you want at the end of the phone questioning you about discounting.
As a supplier, you will often have a retail partner that you can point to as the best example of how you would like your products presented and marketed online. This may be because of a great relationship with your buyer, who in turn has the ability and willingness to ensure that your latest product images and descriptions are used on the site.
However, if you can point to one retailer that is doing this properly, it implies you have many which are not presenting and selling your products in quite the way you would like.
It may be as simple as ensuring a correct product description is used, making sure the features that differentiate your product are highlighted or using correct and up-to-date product images.
Accurate product content increases sales
Manufacturers need to be able to instantly review how their products are being communicated across each of their retailers, and retailers also need to monitor their own sites.
Auditing the completeness, accuracy and presentation of product information and making it possible to review the score of products and identify why and how they are not complying is vital.
Describing the product in the right way will partly influence the review the product receives. With retailers increasingly making delist decisions simply based on the average review score and star rating, this must not be ignored.
A customer giving a one star review because they were led to believe that the product had a particular feature drags down the overall rating and may tip the balance and a retailer may remove the product.
Customer reviews affect online shoppers
Marketers need to be able to get a quick analysis of a product’s reviews across multiple retailers, regardless of the review and rating source. Whoever is responsible for the product’s online positioning can then evaluate reviews against equivalent competitor lines and identify inconsistencies across stores.
Each product review influences a product’s visibility on a retailer’s site. Consumers will often rank products by review score. Not being on the first two results pages is almost the equivalent of being delisted.
Shoppers only look at the first page of search results
Beyond reviews, can shoppers at least find your products using keywords? Or has the retailer sold that keyword to a competitor brand, relegating your lines to the obscurity of page five?
Ensuring that a product is shown when shoppers search retailers’ websites is critical in delivering online sales and marketers need to be aware of how a product ranks against its competitors for key search terms by category or online store. This improves product visibility, consideration and conversion.
Social media referrals drive sales
Social media networks are having a significant impact on retail businesses as consumers increasingly utilise these channels for shopping, coupons, online promotions, price checks, product comparisons and information.
It is vital to monitor social media when analysing the online path to purchase; tracking the buzz related to a brand and products can have a positive impact on sales. Tracking your shoppers’ activity on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ will help marketers discover the conversation that matters most to their products.
Your products’ price, promotions, reviews, placement and compliance to the ideal brand image are all linked. They are the ecosystem of the online sale. Get one element wrong and it impacts the others – ultimately extinguishing your online sales.