Spot your online sales channel revenue leaks and fix them

We’ve collected the factors that may be contributing to massive conversion problems and revenue leaks in your online sales channels. To stop these leaks, and optimise sales online as effectively as you do in physical stores, you need to take control of your online product visibility.

Many brands try to succeed with online sales but the number of brands that truly nail it, is far lower. Why? Because there are lots of things that can go wrong in online sales channels – and each one of them may be holding back revenues across the board.

Here are some of the pitfalls in online sales channels worldwide which affect sales for global brands:

1. SKUs quietly go out of stock for days or weeks.

You would think that resellers would notice this quickly and order more. That’s not always the case. Just as a physical store merchandiser would encourage stores to order more products or adjust stock level notifications, so should you do online. This problem alone means millions in lost revenues for many brands. An unavailable product can, in the worst-case scenario, mean losing a customer for life. Online consumers are much more “unfaithful” than in the physical world. Often when they don’t find the product they want in an online store, they are recommended another similar product, ready for them to buy.

2. SKUs disappear, including bestsellers.

Up to 40 percent of all products expected to be visible at resellers aren’t. Just as in physical stores, retailers move things around online from time to time. In the process, some products suddenly become invisible – most often because of broken links, usually due to restructures of the website of some kind, for example when categories are changed and products moved. It can also be keyword issues or other tech issues causing the problem. In any case, consumers can’t buy your product if the shelf is empty.

3. SKUs lose rankings quickly.

As mentioned earlier, being “above the fold” in searches is as important as being placed at eye-level in physical stores. When a product drops in ranking, it will instantly affect sales. There’s a saying: “If you want to hide something, hide it on the second page of Google”. The same thing applies online; consumers browse products on the first page of the search results and don’t click any further.

4. Share-of-shelf is shrinking.

A brand may have a 40 percent share of shelf in physical stores, but online many global consumer brands are now being knocked off by smaller brands or by other competitors who are more aggressive in making sure they get enough exposure. Creating brand blocks will help online sales just as it does offline.

5. Product information is incorrect.

Low-quality images, outdated or inaccurate product information, omitted critical facts and more. And this happens even if all the product data was correctly uploaded by product publishing systems to begin with. Trust is lost instantly, followed by sales. Nowadays, consumers can quickly detect if information online is incorrect or inconsistent. This affects sales in physical stores, as well as online. Up to 20 percent of all e-commerce product data researched by Detail Online has been found to be incorrect or inconsistent, with two of the biggest culprits being distorted or mixed-up images (not a problem in physical stores) and outdated descriptions and specifications. 98 percent of online shoppers say that incorrect or inconsistent content has stopped them from completing a purchase online.

All of these factors are all contributing to massive conversion problems and revenue leaks. To stop these leaks, and optimise sales in your online sales channels as effectively as you do in physical stores, you need to take control of your online product visibility. We suggest a smart tech solution based on the principles of mystery shopping, audits and merchandising.

Can you discover and fix these sales leaks manually?

Well, if you invest enough manual labour you will no doubt find a few of them. However, keeping track of multiple of SKUs, in multiple indirect sales channels online, in multiple languages, is a very daunting task. Just imagine doing searches for hundreds of products to make sure they are available and the product description is correct. Then imagine doing it on a regular basis to account for any changes that happen at the reseller.

There are global brands who have tried doing it this way, at least for a while. In most cases, they audit a limited number of SKUs, at a limited frequency (monthly or quarterly), in just a few cherry-picked stores. Therefore they discover just a fraction of all their lost sales opportunities online. It still costs a fortune in manual hours. And the people who are involved also have the challenge of compiling their findings in a digestible format, and making it available to the right stakeholders who can take action and make improvements.

Manual monitoring usually takes place using the same IP number, which does not give you an accurate picture of your online presence since the site will remember you. As with physical stores, you need to see an objective consumer view to be able to use the data in your discussions with resellers.

AI technology is, by nature, much better suited to this challenge. There’s lots this technology can do for your business. To learn more about it as well as other hacks to improve online product visibility, download our full online auditing guide for free (länk till landningssida för formuläret).

You can also read my next blog post in this series, where I talk about how to use smart tech to do all your mystery shopping and audits online – and to help you with online merchandising in the new digital landscape.

Originally published Dec. 04, 2019, updated May. 11, 2020
Joakim Gavelin
Joakim Gavelin
CEO, Detail Online

Joakim has spent 25 years in merchandising and conducting audits in physical stores, and for the last 5 years he has been applying the same principles online. The tactics include promotion, presentation, visibility, stock situation, position on shelf, share of shelf etc., which all affect conversion in e-commerce.

E-commerce Auditing Guide

Discover the most important parameters of ecommerce auditing and get practical advice on how to monitor your product visibility in online reseller channels.
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