“Doing Business In Bentonville” is a leading specialized speaker series company, led by Steve Schotta. The series is all about increasing the business knowledge of current and future suppliers who are doing business with Walmart. Today’s speaker was Gabe Wight from WhyteSpyder.
What’s going on?
The customer acquisition battle for dot com spending is over. E-commerce, led by Amazon, has gained a foothold with shoppers at the tune of 100 million Amazon Prime members worldwide, forcing CPG companies and retailers to reimagine the principles of product merchandising for the digital space. And while the battle for the largest share of digital shoppers may be over, another has begun.
To compete, retailers are hoping to influence spending habits and build loyalty among shoppers by offering expanded fulfillment options. At Walmart, we see this translating to grocery pickup, easy reorder, 2-day shipping, and click and collect services. But these services are only working to satisfy the present battle in what is proving to be a long-term war.
For CPG companies looking to drive online sales, the message is clear: dig in your heels. Commit to e-commerce as a long-term investment, not a passing fad.
While some categories, like consumer electronics, have being honing their digital merchandising strategies for the past decade – others have only just begun to seriously consider the power of the product page. But the curse and blessing of the digital space is that it’s always changing, presenting the opportunity for stragglers to jump ahead and pressuring e-commerce savants to remain competitive.
In some ways, the future of e-commerce is shaping up to be a different verse of the same song. The basic principles of search engine optimization are more critical than ever as shoppers turn to online retailers to buy and research products based on specific attributes (And we’re talking hyper-specific, like the new mom who is looking for a BPA-free, dishwasher safe, no-spill sippy cup). But the next wave of search will be AI-enabled, working to connect the dots between objective and subjective product attributes to serve up products that are personalized and contextually relevant. Most immediately, we will see this play out in conversational search with smart home devices, answering queries like…
“Alexa, give me a few ideas for Mother’s Day gifts.”
“OK, Google, what are the most popular Christmas dinner recipes on Pinterest?”
In this regard, the future of e-comm is moving in the opposite direction of the hyper-specific query, filling more substantial gaps to assist the shopper who is on an open-ended discovery quest. And this is where subjective attributes come into play. In order to personalize search results, AI-assistants must synthesize multiple data points, such as the consumer’s preference and current trends, to deliver recommended products. By adding the subjective “Christmas dinner” attribution to an item page, you can make a 1lb. tub of pre-packaged mashed potatoes more relevant to the busy mom who is preparing to host her in-laws for the holidays.
And this is exactly the type of scenario Walmart sees as a growth driver across digital channels. Even though Amazon boasts a lion’s share of digital commerce, Walmart is betting that it can secure shopper loyalties by delivering excellent experiences across its physical and digital channels. This is why we are seeing a revamped website and billions of dollars in remodels, all in addition to the retailer’s large-scale investments in omni-channel distribution services.
What do I do now?
It’s time to invest as much energy in a product’s digital shelf as you would the physical shelf. It may seem like a too-simple-to-be-true course of action, but at this critical juncture, nailing the fundamentals is key. And you may be surprised to find just how many details go into what we would consider “the basics” of on-page optimization.
Gabe Wight’s 7-Step Action Plan for Optimizing Product Pages
1. Achieve 100% compliance with your online retailer.
2. Expand the attribution of your item pages to the fullest extent possible.
3. Create an item page strategy that delivers an enriched experience for the shopper.
4. Optimize your content to increase visibility and drive traffic.
5. Enhance your pages to facilitate conversion.
6. Supplement your on-page efforts with a larger marketing strategy.
7. Integrate your page within the contextual ecosystem, updating at least every 6 months.
For those of you new to e-commerce, let’s return to familiar territory. We’ll use the in-store environment as an analogy: Compliance will get you in the store, but doesn’t promise visibility. Attribution gets you in a more prominent position on the shelf, while item page strategies and optimization help boost your search result rankings, which is the digital equivalent of an out-of-aisle merchandising display. But like most things, you have to start at the beginning, with the basics, before you can achieve that top position.
(Hat tip to Gabe for this great metaphor and many additional insights shared at today’s event.)
What’s Ahead is a sales and marketing company that specializing in creating and promoting innovative shopper marketing solutions through a retail-specific lens. To learn more about what we do, visit our website (www.whatsahead.com) or follow us on LinkedIn.