Stocking the Digital Shelf: How optimizing product discoverability improves shopper experience and boosts online CPG sales

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With e-commerce experiencing explosive growth in the last few years—not to mention the last few months—it’s no surprise that online grocery sales have become one of the most strategically important operations for retailers and Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) brands to invest in. Consumers love the convenience, and retailers and brands love seeing the frequent sales and bigger purchases that an online presence can encourage. And, amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and self-quarantining nationwide, more consumers than ever are ordering groceries online to avoid a trip to the store. It’s likely that many of these consumers remain online shoppers and will have an online shopping experience now that impacts longer-term retailer and CPG brand loyalty well into the future.

Still, the e-commerce landscape can present challenges that retailers and CPG brands don’t face in stores. Whereas the importance of in-store displays and shelf presentation is well understood in brick and mortar stores, online sellers must consider how consumers search for products online in order to connect a customer with their particular brand.

The key for retailers and brands looking to stand out among thousands of other options goes beyond product development and eye-catching marketing. Successful keyword mapping aligns with shoppers’ micro-need states, therefore directing their online searches to the most relevant products available. As simple as it may seem, even the biggest players in the food and beverage industry are not immune to missing out on sales due to poor discoverability on key retail sites and addressing that discoverability could involve a fix as simple as changing the products’ descriptions.

According to Label Insight, 87% of food product listings fail to claim at least one of the attributes associated with specific need states that shoppers search when looking for them. In Q4 2019 alone, that meant that among the 51% of food products that failed to claim their most searched attribute, an average of 88,000 products weren’t included in relevant Amazon searches. Ideally if, for example, a consumer performs a search for “dairy-free chocolate,” the results would be comprised of chocolate specifically labeled as “dairy-free.” However, if a retailer sells dairy-free chocolate but the chocolate manufacturer doesn’t claim that attribute in their online product content, that product often doesn’t show up in the search results leading to an empty “digital shelf” and a poor shopper experience. Similarly, many retailers will return inaccurate search results. For example, a shopper searching for “peanut-free products” might be served up peanut butter and other peanut-based products as search results leading to a poor experience and a lost sale for both retailer and CPG brand.

For grocery retailers and CPG brands, there is no downside to optimizing product-specific information, attributes, titles, descriptions and keywords to align with prevalent shopper need-states (e.g., Keto diet, low sugar, non-GMO, paraben-free. etc.). It can help them dramatically increase shopper satisfaction and online sales without making any changes to the product or selection. So why is this such a common issue for so many CPG brands and retailers?

The main obstacle is a lack of understanding for which major consumer needs states products qualify. Without an up-to-date understanding of what consumers are searching for and why these searches aren’t directing customers toward certain products or brands, it’s difficult to optimize product discoverability to meet consumers’ ever-changing needs. For this reason, consulting experts that have a finger on the pulse of the grocery e-commerce industry can transform a retailer’s and CPG brand’s online sales.

The experts at Label Insight do exactly that. Informed by detailed insights into grocery e-commerce data, Label Insight matches their proprietary database of product-specific attributes with top search terms to help sellers and brands grow their e-commerce presence and take every opportunity to be found on the digital shelf. Equipped with an understanding of industry trends, search data and sales data and the know-how to connect consumers with relevant products, Label Insight helps retailers and brands acquire new customers and create lasting loyalty.

By optimizing product discoverability, online grocery retailers and CPG brands can convert new consumers and reach buyers who have the potential to become repeat customers—during this period of social isolation and beyond. 

To learn more about online shopper behavior, digital POS opportunities and discoverability of products, join Dave Byman and Daniel Hawks for Label Insight’s webinar, Stocking the Digital Shelf.


This post is sponsored by Label Insight