This is the text of an article that appeared in the November 2013 edition of Retail World Magazine (page 58):
Products Need to Look as Good Online as Offline to Win in Digital Channels
Brands invest significant sums in packaging, in-store merchandising and presentation, yet often fail to deliver compelling product content at the digital point of sale. As consumers increasingly use the internet and mobile devices to research and purchase, making products look as good online as offline is essential to take advantage of these new opportunities. The brands that provide high quality product content in all consumer channels will be those that win in the digital future.
THE SOURCE OF FUTURE GROWTH
Online sales and usage are consistently growing at over 30% p.a., in a largely flat overall market. This makes a brand’s approach to digital channels a key differentiator to success versus the competition. With Coles, Woolworths, ALDI, Foodworks and others all having direct to customer offers, the investment required to operate these channels has to be budgeted into marketing strategies. The success of numerous cross-channel brand campaigns demonstrates the potential of digital content to drive growth and complement offline marketing strategies. Brands therefore need to have a digital strategy in three key areas:
- Production and distribution of compelling digital product content
- Using digital marketing to engage directly with consumers to drive awareness, sales and loyalty
- Merchandising and advertising products effectively in retailers’ digital channels
AN OPPORUTNITY FOR THE WHOLE RANGE
Major retailers now list the full store range on their web sites and apps, providing the capability for customers to build shopping lists, or do their full weekly shop. “Big data” now enables customised marketing emails to draw from the full range, targeting specific products at individual customers. Whilst this gives brands new channels to communicate new lines and showcase the higher margin products in the extended range, it also means that full digital content across all products is required to participate and realise these new opportunities.
BEYOND THE CATALOGUE IMAGE
A catalogue image is no longer good enough to get the message across. Full product content consists of images of multiple angles of the product large enough for zooming in and reading the packaging, fully structured data, marketing copy, and ideally video. It’s now also possible to virtually put the product in the digital customer’s hand with 360° rotations, controllable and zoomable by the user.
The new Coles web site illustrates the opportunities afforded by extended content. It enables customers to use structured data to navigate to products with the attributes they need. Such attributes include allergen information, health benefits and country of origin. Numerous independent apps designed to help customers choose products also rely on content to work effectively. If a product doesn’t have the information required by these sites, at best they won’t appear in right place, at worst they won’t appear at all.
MERCHANDISING ONLINE IS NOW SIMPLER
Brands need to develop this product content and provide it to retailers in a format that makes it easy for them to use on their digital platforms. Historically this has been something that neither retailers, suppliers or their service providers have been geared to deliver due to the high cost and lack of expertise in mainstream marketing agencies. New services such as that provided by SKUvantage aim to close this capability gap.
Having captured product content to support the re-launch of the Coles’ site, SKUvantage now provides a full service to suppliers which captures and delivers extended product content for their brands, into retailers. This enables suppliers to take control of the information about their products displayed on retailer sites, and ensures it is complete across the full range. The SKUvantage service is priced to make gathering content across the whole range affordable, with an easy maintenance process to keep it up to date with low effort.
STRONG RETURNS FROM PRODUCT CONTENT
Reckitt Benckiser have recently adopted a market leading approach to product content, using the SKUvantage service to capture detailed content across their full range. This is then proactively provided to majo r retailers in a format they require for their digital platforms to drives sales. The spin-off benefits of capturing all this content are numerous, from providing a single point of reference for category managers, to being repurposed for field sales teams and enabling direct to consumer opportunities.
Brands need to take this sort of proactive approach to product content to realise the opportunities of the digital channels. Such an approach gives consumers the information they require to research and purchase, whilst communicating the right marketing messages to drive sales and return on investment in new products.
No brand would want plain packaging offline, so why settle for it online?