2020 Success: Shaped By Stellar Product Content
As we approach the second decade of the latest millennium, it’s interesting to see how both brands and retailers have competed for their share of the eCommerce pie, and how it influenced consumer purchasing decisions. Beyond economic impacts, from significant downturns to long periods of steady growth, and cultural changes in countries across the world, the trend from being “online” to being “mobile” over the past decade is clear.
Once an unthinkable concept, today highly personalized and large ticket items – prescription glasses, mattresses, even cars – can be purchased and delivered with a few touches or swipes of a mobile device. And with consumers spending less time inspecting the actual physical product before purchase, more trust is placed in the brand (whether a product or eCommerce site) to ensure the things they buy are safe, healthy, and as expected.
There will be many prognostications of what the new year will bring. Here are a few that we believe will be important to our clients as they seek to grow their business through stellar product content.
SUPERCHARGING PRODUCT EXPERIENCES
1. Consumer demand will continue to drive digital adoption
Today’s shoppers have access to information everywhere, and they are now conditioned to finding anything they need online, using mobile to search and purchase. This consumer demand has pushed the industry to provide information more quickly, in the way the consumer wants. Inaccurate product content costs over $100 billion annually due to inaccurate product descriptions, missing attributes and outdated or incomplete images (CrowdAnalytix). This requires retailers and suppliers to provide more detailed and accurate information across the ecosystem in order to gain consumer trust and the sale. Detailed product content online is now expected, and information beyond simple descriptions is more and more the norm. Those suppliers and retailers who provide only the minimum information may find a more significant gap from the category leaders.
2. Large eCommerce retailers will push the envelope for everyone
In 2019, we have seen many activities from large retailers to expand and enhance their eCommerce game. Amazon has continued its strong online presence, expanding into pharmacy services, drone delivery and evolving its grocery concepts. Other major retailers, such as Walmart, Target and Lowe’s have also boosted their game, acquiring or divesting online brands, adding more products to their product lists, building out their core and enhanced content and ensuring greater accuracy through validated content syndication. To compete in the coming decade, retailers and suppliers will need to compete with these expanded eCommerce players, either by creating a unique shopper experience online, or by partnering with third parties to provide the access, engagement and fulfillment that these big players provide.
3. Brands will grow their emphasis on engagement
Companies have long understood that a brand encompasses more than what is on a label. Getting shoppers to identify with a brand as transcendent from the product itself (think Nike, Apple, or Starbucks) requires the shopper to engage with the product as part of their life. As mobile and online shopping reduces the “personal” contact between shopper and brand, it is even more important for companies to focus on developing immersive consumer experiences. In real life, this may include creating an “experience” such as the Camp store or Lego’s Kids Experience around brands or banners. Doing so online is possible with today’s technology and whether it is an online-only product commercial, interactive product imagery to learn about product benefits, or demonstration videos, suppliers and retailers are working to drive more engagement. As shoppers spend more online time interacting with product content, they show increased conversion rates. This focus will continue – getting shoppers engaged, to drive higher add-to-cart rates.
4. eCommerce will embrace BevAl
Beyond traditional consumer goods, Alcohol beverages have been slow to move online. This is due to regulatory requirements and to ensure sales only to people of age. However, with the growth in local delivery services, BOPIS and an explosion of direct-to-consumer offerings, mainstream alcohol beverages also will become more important and prevalent in online mix. This category has historically had the resources and creativity to create special shopper experiences on premise; moving this creativity to the online world indicates even greater opportunities. Cheers to interesting content delivery and increased eCommerce sales!
5. Technology will transform transparency and delivery
Transparency has always been a consumer concern. 75% of shoppers say they’ll switch to a brand that provides more in-depth product information, beyond what’s provided on the physical label. (Food Manufacturing Institute 2019). With the increasing availability of products from around the world, there is a continued greater awareness of the need to understand authenticity, ingredients, country of origin and environmental impact as well as any health, nutritional or allergy concerns. We have always understood that transparency must go together with trust – that the information is not only available but also has been validated for its accuracy. In this increasingly connected ecosystem, the need for definable and repeatable processes throughout the creation and syndication of product content are critical. Retailers, suppliers and their solution partners will continue to refine their technology connections to ensure a secure and automated distribution of information. The past complacency and acceptance of manual uploading and distribution will no longer be seen as the norm.
6. Behavioral analytics will drive eCommerce decisions
According to a survey of 4,000 US online adults by Forrester Research, product information is the number-one feature online shoppers want from a website. As content has become more ubiquitous, the data behind performance becomes more important. In the past, retailers and suppliers were working to ensure they had content on their sites. Now, with the continued push for more completeness, both brands and retailers will be looking to understand content health, what products are the best performing and how to improve. Using deeper behavioral analytics will uncover what insights can drive shopper choices and demand. Moving beyond the correlation-based measures like ROI and sales, leading marketers will begin to analyze lift – the drivers of incremental growth. These advanced analytics and reporting capabilities will begin to be standard requests for online products in the coming years.
As the consumer push for more information, access and selection drives both retailers and suppliers, the focus on more interconnectivity throughout the product content ecosystem will also grow.
In order to serve shoppers efficiently and accurately, while also enabling the ability to test and moderate product selection in real-time, both sides of the industry will look to increasingly technology-related solutions that can drive sales more efficiently.