Spot your online sales channel revenue leaks and fix them

How do you fix online sales channel leaks? Here are a few factors that may contribute to massive conversion problems and in your online sales channels.

To stop these leaks and optimize sales online as effectively as you do in physical stores, you need to control your online product visibility.

Many brands try to succeed with online sales, but the number of brands that genuinely 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 hold back revenues across the board.


Top pitfalls that affect online sales channel 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, should you do it online?

This problem alone means millions in lost online sales channel 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. When they don’t find the product they want in an online store, they switch to the next recommended product, ready 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.

Some products suddenly become invisible–most often because of broken links. This might happen during website maintenance, for example, and maybe there are changes in the product categories.

It can also be keyword issues or other tech issues causing the problem. 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 crucial for being placed at eye level in physical stores.

When a product drops in ranking, it affects 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 the shelf in physical stores. However, online, many smaller brands or other competitors knock off global consumer brands with their more aggressive approach in getting maximum 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 when resellers upload the correct product data to the product publishing systems.

You lost trust, followed by sales. Nowadays, consumers can detect if information online is incorrect or inconsistent. This affects sales in physical stores and online.

At Detail Online, we researched and found up to 20 percent of all e-commerce product data to be incorrect or inconsistent.

Two of the biggest culprits of incorrect product information are 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.

These factors are contributing to massive conversion problems and revenue leaks.

To stop these leaks and optimize 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 online sales channel leaks manually?

Well, if you invest enough manual labor, you will no doubt find a few of them. However, tracking multiple SKUs in multiple indirect sales channels online in various 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 regularly to account for any changes that happen at the reseller.

There are global brands that have tried doing it this way, at least for a while. In most cases, they audit a limited number of SKUs, at a fixed 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 involved also have the challenge of compiling their findings in a digestible format. And make them 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 remembers you. 

As with physical stores, you need to pinpoint consumers’ needs to use the data in your discussions with resellers.

AI technology is, by nature, much better suited to this challenge. There are lots this technology can do for your business. 

To learn more about it and other hacks to improve online product visibility, download our full online auditing guide for free.

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

Originally published Dec. 04, 2019, updated Apr. 27, 2021
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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