Webinar Summary: tackle ecommerce auditing

This webinar explore the presentation of brands in e-commerce. The host 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.

Detail Online helps brands all over the world. Today, we operate in over 60 countries, auditing opportunities and threats to spot sales opportunity leaks.

Merchandising in physical stores is done by people. We started to do the same thing online, but we quickly learned that we need to rely on technology to be efficient. Smart search technology and Artificial Intelligence are powerful help in finding all threats and opportunities online. It’s impossible to embrace this manually. However, we still discover brands doing this manually, looking for a needle in a haystack. It’s a tricky task that becomes eternally complex without the right tools.

Joakim Gavelin

Brands are still underestimating product visibility online

What brought Joakim into online auditing was a content issue that happened 5 years ago. One of his customers in consumer electronics needed help with merchandising in-store. A retailer sold and promoted a television set having three HDMI connections, but the TV in question actually just had two. The consumers were disappointed and complained which in return made the retailer angry. The brand ended up having to carry the burden for this mistake. This turned out to be the tip of the iceberg.

We have learned that people behave differently online.

  • Lower tolerance. Online, users expect things to move faster. If the loading time is too long, users move to another reseller site or product.
  • Don’t expect a bad mobile experience. Research shows that a huge part of the global population is willing to leave a brand based on a bad mobile experience.
  • Everything instant. “Now commerce” – users push the buy button and expect delivery the next day/immediately. Intolerance for waiting times.
  • Screen time. Studies show that the global average is that users spend 6 hours / day screen time – that’s a quarter/year on average. Users spend this time connected and exposed to brands. Compare this to the time spent in physical stores and the exposure you get for brands there – online accelerates the amount of impressions

14% of global sales happen through online channels, see below for industry specific numbers. Global sales through online channels is expected to grow another 50% until 2023.

Percentage of sales happening online

50% of all transactions in online sales travels across borders. Users search for info all over the world. A consequent story is fundamentally important across country borders.

80% of shoppers search online before buying – online or in store. They look for promotions, availability, reviews, prices and other competitive offerings. Brand visibility issues online and how brands are presented also affect sales in physical stores.

Challenges for brands

Many SKU’s disappear or never actually show up on online shelves. A customer has 1000s of SKUs and no matter how hard they try, they never manage to get more than 82% of the SKU’s published on reseller sites at the same time. This is an issue.

We do audits every single day and have a lot of data. We know that as much as 40% of SKU’s have shown to go missing online. Not all the time, not for life, but if your hero product disappears from the shelf for three days around Black Friday you will miss out on a lot of sales. Plus, you risk losing this client for life.

Joakim Gavelin

Even an SKU that disappears and comes back it’s bad enough. But if a product never get published, or disappear forever, it gets even worse. It’s better that you become aware of these issues early on rather than discovering decreased sales numbers in the post sales report and wonder why.

Lost sales risk = 100%. If your product isn’t there it cannot be bought.

Many products disappear due to technical errors, changing their algorithms, categories, online stores, as well as physical stores are rebuilding. Sometimes products get lost, similar to what happens in physical stores. 404 – happens online all the time.

The new behavior to find product information. Users start with search on a website. 7/10 consumers search for products. They also turn to Amazon in a bigger extent than Google. Amazon is becoming the portal for product information. It’s fundamentally important to have accurate information on these websites.

Translate this into physical stores. Search is the new shelf and 1st page is eye-level.

96% of all sales are generated from the 1st page. The problem for brands in general is that online shelves are so extensive. Looking for hair dryers on Amazon UK gives 40 000 results. It’s a crowded shelf. I see 48 responses for my first page. Those not on the first page aren’t found by the potential customer.

Joakim Gavelin

Sometimes brands do strange things to get on top. We found an example where someone wrote “Not a Samsung TV” in the headline just to appear when someone searches for a Samsung TV.

A brand that use Not Samsung to trick search
Example of a brand that use another brand to appear in search

Controlling the product narrative across resellers

20% of SKUs are found online with incorrect or disjointed content. Every 5th product we found issues with. Either incorrect compared to the source of truth or disjointed between different reseller sites. This causes confusion and diminishes trust when they compare source and find disjointed information. Consumers lose trust in such situations. 52% most often leave the cart. 98% have left the cart once for these kinds of issues when found compliance or inconsistency issues across websites.

Don’t only take responsibility for how your brand is visible in your country, remember that your potential customer will look for product information all over the world. Below are just a few examples of issues that can occur:

Error in key product information

8 instead of 10 makes a big difference for the buyer of this product
8 instead of 10 makes a big difference for the buyer of this product

Product promoted as something else

This beer promoted as washing powder.
This beer promoted as washing powder.

Recommendations differ

Recommendations that differ
One reseller says “shoes run true to size”, the other says the same shoe “is small in size”. This is confusing for a shopper that is trying to figure out what to buy.

Blended PDP
Rather than presenting the product information for the product showed in the image it happens that the description refer to a different product.

Differences nuances
In cosmetics there is very often a challenge with difference nuances. This is an example of a product that actually exist in only one color, yet it’s visible in 4 very obvious different colors. Very hard for the consumer to know what to expect.

The image in the center is the source of truth. Reseller site show very different colors of this product.
The image in the center is the source of truth. Reseller site show very different colors of this product.

Another common example is misspelled product title. Means that shoppers do not find the product in searches.

In some industries wrong product information can have severe consequences. This is an example with canned minced beef.

Viewing the source of truth in the Princess website and see the product contain sugar. If we go to a reseller to buy the product we cannot see that the product contain sugar, it’s missing in the ingredient list. Imagine this for a diabetic. This is a typical challenge for grocery brands exposing their products on multiple platforms.

Using a product information system doesn’t solve the problem

In many areas, brands are speaking directly with resellers. But in the UK in the grocery industry they have a system in the middle brands communicate through a product information system. This system is then connected to the entire website. These brands are trusting a 3rd party that the information provided is correct. Despite the fact that you have a Product Information System or content management system in place in the middle you still need to audit your landscape from this end to answer the question what the customer view is. Are the products presented in the right way? This is not about a brand story going missing online, it’s about having the wrong product story being told.

Out of stock – more serious online, than offline

15-20% of SKUs are out of stock online. That’s double compared to in store where the global rate for out of stock is 8,3 %. The problem is that we have a fundamentally different response to out of stock issues online. If we found a product being out of stock online, in 70% of the cases we respond to this by buying another item. Called the Amazon effect, we are so used to being fed with options and recommendations of other products, slipping on a lost sales opportunities is a shame. Maybe this is the biggest issue in online sales.

Hidden out of stock is another problem. It might appear as you can buy a product, but when you try to complete the purchase you see that expected delivery is in 4 weeks. Remember our tolerance rate is up to 3 days. Many shoppers will drop off.

Summing up all of this, the visibility, ranking, compliance, storytelling about your brand and product, and stock availability add up to lost sales opportunities. All of these can be found with Detail Online and can benefit your sales. Increase your sales in monumental numbers. If you do not act and nurse this, it can lead to lost sales for life. If you lose out on the cart once this might have an effect on the shopper for life. They may start purchasing a competing brand.

Joakim Gavelin

The importance of e-commerce auditing is skyrocketing. Regardless if you sell technologies, fashion, cosmetics, toys, food etc. It doesn’t matter. The exposure to these threats is equal in all these industries.

How you can begin to tackle sales leaks

Utilize the technology that is in place in the market today to be on top in the online landscape. Audit your products. Take responsibility for the products and brand and the exposure they have on your reseller channels. Find the challenges when they occur and fix them if your products:

  • go missing
  • get removed from a listing
  • run out of stock
  • disappear from the shelf
  • have disjointed content.

It’s easier than ever to apply the principles of mystery shopping, audits and merchandising in the digital world. If you do this properly, it can strongly benefit your sales! It’s not about avoiding to get sued or getting your brand reputation on top. It’s rather for you to stay on top of your products.

We work with multiple brands today that run these audits.

  • We have helped global consumer brands double their market share in a key region by working online.
  • We’ve helped a brand to restore 88% of their hero sku’s disappearing from the shelves
  • We’ve supported a DYI brand experiencing a 300% up on sales on Amazon by working intensively with search and working to fix issues around search.
  • We work with lifestyle brands with 24 times ROI on the efforts they do based on the findings they do with Detail and the fixes they do based on these findings.

Most of all, we help our customers sell more through online resellers by being on top of their products and taking full responsibility for them.

Ready to find and take action on lost sales opportunities?
Learn how Detail Online enables you to continuously monitor your products’ visibility in reseller channels online.