5 Ways to Amplify Your Brand’s Digital Shelf

By Scott Doherty

5 Ways to Amplify Your Brand’s Digital Shelf

The year 2023 witnessed a significant milestone in the realm of global online expenditures as the channel now accounted for more than 20% of total retail transactions (+10% for FMCG).  This marked an increase from the prior year, growing by over 10% which defied market projections. This is more impressive given the backdrop of a tumultuous business climate.  

The enduring transformation in consumer behaviour towards online shopping, an evolution accelerated by the global pandemic remains robust and continues to grow.  Given this context, it becomes crucial for your brand to tailor it’s e-commerce approach to win in today’s ever changing omni channel landscape.  Central to this strategic growth is the pivotal role played by the digital shelf.

These are five best practices to amplify an effective digital shelf strategy.

1)    Availability – consistent supply and availability is the cornerstone of any successful retail partnership and this is even more true online; the algorithm for online retailers will prioritise sku with consistent availability and thus drive a higher shelf rank/prominence. Conversely, if a product has poor availability, it can have a huge negative impact on sales. A study from Profitero shows having high OOS (out of stocks) can lead to a 42% decline in brand sales as well as it taking a week or so to regain shelf rank & visibility post supply recovery. Due to this, it is important for teams to collaborate cross functionally to plan, manage and deliver effectively between the manufacturer and the retailer. All of this said, availability alone will not win the battle of the digital shelf...

2)    Findability (and the power of copy) – once your product is listed, it’s now the challenge to make it findable. The biggest way to support the findability and shelf prominence is through great copy.

Your product’s digital shelf copy should be keyword rich with search terms that shoppers would use to find your product. This applies not only to the title, but also the feature bullets, product descriptions, and metadata, all of which are key elements of site search optimization (SSO), allowing the product to be more easily found due to higher indexing on retailer search rankings.

Keyword-rich copy is more than just the words used to describe an item. A title can include descriptors like flavours or benefits, which encourage click-through. Bullet points can then drill down to more specifics and relevant content, which help drive conversion.

3)    Images and rich media – your product is listed and findable, now we need to convert the shopper.

There is a minimum standard of images your retail partners will expect for a product to enable a listing online and this is usually covered by the GS1 standard, but this isn’t enough to standout in a crowded market.

a.    Make it mobile ready – this one is obvious, but globally +60% of shoppers are using their mobile devices to browse stores online, so it’s imperative to optimise your images for these small screens.

GS1 have put together a detailed set of guidelines of how you can adapt your packaging to meet the needs of an online shopper who maybe experiencing your product as a c1cm x 1cm image. These include to focus on:

i.    The brand

ii.    What type of product it is

iii.    The variety

iv.    The pack size.

b.    Marketing images – most online retailers have the capability to support multiple product images on a PDP (product detail pages) and so it’s important to add supporting content to aid the shoppers decision making and engagement; a study from the US shoppers show that 3-4 supporting images is the ideal amount of supporting content. There are lots of options depending on the brand to include, but a few suggestions include:

i.    Lifestyle shots

ii.    Product usage

iii.    Instructions for use (where appropriate)

iv.    Recipes & serving suggestions etc

c.    Rich media – as the online retailers evolve, many now have the capabilities to include rich media (videos, gifs etc) and enhanced PDP (i.e. A+) to your sku.  Adding this content can help drive conversion; a recent study shows that by adding enhanced PDP content can increase conversion by 12%.

4)    The power of advocacy – 93% of shoppers say that reviews influence their purchasing decisions, therefore as a brand you must factor this into your marketing mix. According to Mintel the minimum standard for reviews to garner shopper engagement is 15 positive reviews with an average star rating of 4 stars. A report from Power Reviews says you can improve your conversion rate by 65% by adding one review alone.

5)    Online media – if you have implemented a clear strategy for the above, the next step is to support your products with digital and retail media; there are a plethora of options available across the funnel to help accelerate your brands flywheel and its recommended that you spend a proportion of your marketing investment as related to your brand % of sales online

These steps aren’t rocket science and are achievable for all brands, however an effective digital shelf plan is a constant battle that continues to evolve; you can’t do this work once and expect to win online. Constant monitoring of retail and on-line performance is critical to stay ahead of your competition and have your products succeed in a crowded omni-channel marketplace.


About Scott Doherty
Scott is European Digital Director at SGK and has over 15 years experience in Digital and eCommerce both on the manufacturer and agency sides.

His role is to develop the right digital services for our clients needs now and in the future.