Effective category management in the online environment is much more challenging, and a copy and paste strategy will not keep a brand ahead of the game.
And in turn, it means that the traditional four Ps of marketing – Product, Place, Price and Promotion – are more important than ever, forming the foundation for growth in both bricks-and-mortar and online channels.
However, the added complexities and nuances of online mean that there are now two other Ps to consider – Perfect Page and Performance. Here is a breakdown of what businesses now need to focus on in terms of marketing.
Whether the business is on or offline, the consumer demand for a product and its benefits are still of the highest priority.
In addition to this, a brand’s share of product listings becomes share of voice or presence in the category. The faster pace of online retail also means that monitoring and keeping track of product availability is extremely important. Frequency of the data used also plays a role – weekly is no longer enough; daily visibility is necessary.
Three days out of stock online can take a product more than two weeks to return to its search ranking prior to being out of stock.
In the traditional model, the placement of a product within a physical store refers to where it is actually located, but this becomes more complicated online.
Due to the potential size of the digital shelf, the findability of the product becomes more contentious. Being on the first page is important to target, although that may not be enough or appropriate for all sites. Customising and setting KPIs for search rankings on different retailer sites becomes instrumental in ensuring that the findability of the product is improving to increase consideration and conversion.
The importance of search ranking cannot be underestimated. Some manufacturers suffer as much as 75 per cent sales loss as a result of dropping 10 places from five to 15.
Instore, once a product is launched, its pricing is fairly static. Price changes do not occur that often. But online, pricing is much more dynamic and the pace of price changes escalates. Real-time price matching exacerbates this and businesses are required to review, monitor and track their prices more frequently than the traditional weekly frequency of data.
Instore, businesses invest heavily in improving visibility through off-location and ticketing. Implementing promotional activity can be particularly time-consuming, especially when extra coordination is required across several store locations.
For nimble online retailers, the ways and locations in which to promote increase, including retailer media, digital media and paid search, and it becomes much easier for businesses to create campaigns.
Traditionally, in bricks-and-mortar businesses, this could be viewed to as the packaging of the product. Online however, there is a lot more to review and develop. Is the ecommerce copy the most effective it could be? Because the shopper is now unable to touch and feel the product, the website’s images must effectively convey all of its features.
Is the hero image properly representing the item and its benefits? Are the titles, description and features communicating the brand’s messaging which is in line with the brand strategy? And has the page called out keywords to increase the product’s findability?
The other component of a Perfect Page is the ratings and reviews section. With almost seven in 10 Australians researching products online, positive ratings and reviews from an everyday consumer can be an effective way of free marketing, which can result in conversion either online or instore.
The first five Ps drive the sixth P – Performance. Share of search and search ranking are major indicators of performance and by leveraging the five Ps, brands can impact the search algorithm, in turn increasing the findability of a product.
However, tracking and monitoring this metric is not enough, and brands must set KPIs against these metrics. The first step is to ensure that the search capability of the websites has been optimised for the specific product.
Brands need to aim for share of search being equal to or greater than market share. KPIs for search ranking must also be considered and all products should aim to be on the first page of a site.
Three things to consider for a successful omnichannel strategy:
- Integrate your messaging to earn performance online and in the store.
- It is not about linking consumers to the brand’s properties, but driving shoppers down the path to purchase.
- Today is less about what the brand owns, and more about where the brand builds its presence
By Ruth Butler, e-commerce development partner, at market research firm IRI.
IRI in association with Clavis Insights can help manufacturers to monitor, manage and track brands’ digital shelf presence to drive sales both offline and online, to protect brand equity across the channel as well as to provide standardisation and operational efficiency to organisation’s approach to online space.