Webinar Summary: tackle ecommerce auditing

This webinar explores 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 a promotion, presentation, visibility, stock situation, position on the shelf, shelf share, 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.

People or consumers typically practice merchandising in physical stores. We did the same thing online, but we quickly learned that we need to rely on technology efficiently. Smart search technology and Artificial Intelligence are a 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

Tackle ecommerce auditing

1 Brands underestimate 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 TV set having three HDMI connections, but the TV in question actually just had two. This disappointed the consumers, and they complained, which in return made the retailer angry. The brand ended up having to carry the burden of 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 considerable part of the global population will leave a brand based on a bad mobile experience.
  • Everything instants. “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 speeds up the number of impressions.

14% of global sales happen through online channels; see below for industry-specific numbers. We expect global sales through online channels 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 present themselves also affect sales in physical stores.

2. Challenges for brands

Many SKUs disappear or never actually show up on online shelves. A customer has 1000s of SKUs, and no matter how hard they try, they never get over 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 SKUs 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 gets published or disappears forever, it gets even worse. It’s better to realize these issues early on rather than discover decreased sales numbers in the post-sales report and wonder why.

Lost sales risk = 100%. If your product isn’t there, they cannot buy it. 

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

3 The new behavior to find product information

Users start with a search on a website. 7/10 consumers search for products. They also turn to Amazon to a bigger extent than Google. Amazon is becoming the portal for product information. It’s essential to have accurate information on these websites.
Translate this into physical stores. Search is the new shelf and 1st page is eye-level.

The first page generates about 96% of all sales. The problem for brands is that online shelves are so extensive. Looking for hairdryers on Amazon UK gives 40 000 results. It’s a crowded shelf, and I see 48 responses for my first page. However, potential customers can’t find those not on the first page.
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 to appear when someone searches for a Samsung TV.

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

4. Controlling the product narrative across resellers

We found 20% of SKUs online with incorrect or disjointed content. And every 5th product had issues with either the wrong content compared to the source of truth or disjointed between different reseller sites.

This confuses and diminishes trust when they compare sources and find disjointed information. Consumers lose confidence 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 focus on 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:

5. Error in the 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

6. Product promoted as something else

This beer promoted as washing powder.
They promote this beer as a washing powder.

7. Recommendations differ

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

8. Blended PDP

Rather than presenting the product information for the product in the image, the description refers to another one.

9. Different nuances

In cosmetics, there is often a challenge with different nuances. This is an example of a product that actually exists 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. The reseller site shows very different colors of this product.

Wrong product titles are another common spellings mistake. This means that shoppers do not find the product in searches.

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

Viewing the source of truth on 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 contains sugar because it’s missing from the ingredient list. Imagine this happening to a person with diabetes. This is a typical challenge for grocery brands exposing their products on multiple platforms.

10. Using a product information system doesn’t solve the problem

In many areas, brands directly speak to resellers. But in the UK, in the grocery industry, they have a system where the middle brands communicate through a product information system. They then connect this system to the entire website.

These brands are trusting a 3rd party that the information provided is correct. Although 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 of 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 telling the wrong product story.

11. 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 unique response to out of stock issues online.

Typically, when we find a product is out of stock online, in 70% of the cases, we respond to this by buying another item. This is the Amazon effect, and we are so used to being fed with other products’ options and recommendations. Slipping on a lost sales opportunity is a shame. Maybe this is the biggest issue in online sales.

Hidden out of stock is another problem. This often happens when you want to buy a product and discover that the expected delivery is four 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 to lost sales opportunities. These are the advantages you get using Detail Online, plus it can boost your sales in enormous 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 influence the shopper for life. They may purchase 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 start tackling sales leaks

Use the technology that is in place in the market today to be on top of 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 correctly, it can enormously benefit your sales! It’s not about avoiding getting sued or getting your brand reputation on top. It’s instead 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 key regions 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 their Amazon sales by working intensively with search and working to fix issues around search.
  • We work with lifestyle brands with 24 times ROI on irtheir effortsbased 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.