A generation ago, shoppers had relatively few options when researching brands and products for purchase: They could peruse reviews at the library’s periodical desk, ask their friends for advice, or consult a store employee.
Now, these touch points — among many more — are readily available to consumers, conveniently accessible in their pockets at any time. Today’s shoppers are interacting with brands across dozens and dozens of touch points before making a purchasing decision, according to OptiMonk.
It’s a tremendous shift in consumer behaviour, and begs the question: Can your brand experience meet shoppers’ newfound expectations?
This blog will focus on three ways your brand can proactively meet consumer expectations on the digital shelf, all of which revolve around a core tenant of ecommerce marketing: consistency.
Why Is Brand Experience Consistency So Important?
Salsify’s “Consumer Research 2022” report features insights from more than 4,000 shoppers in France, Germany, Great Britain, and the U.S. about their expectations when making both digital and in-store purchases.
According to the findings, there’s now an “overwhelming demand” for convenient, comprehensive omnichannel shopping journeys. For example:
Customers Are Doing Their Homework
Even when shopping in person, consumers are increasingly reliant on digital information while making a final purchase decision. Salsify’s research found that about a third of consumers use their mobile phones to look up products while shopping in a physical store. This was particularly common in France (41%), Great Britain (36%), and the U.S. (36%).
In addition, 46% of British shoppers, 46% of U.S. shoppers, 45% of French shoppers, and 44% of German shoppers indicated that they will choose not to purchase a product online if there’s not enough information or details provided.
An Increasing Number of Shoppers Will Pay More for a Brand They Trust
When comparing similar products online, 46% of U.S. respondents indicated they would buy the higher-priced option from a brand name they trust. That’s up from 30% the previous year. As customers become increasingly discerning, that trust can be difficult — but certainly not impossible — to maintain across multiple channels.
The Pandemic Accelerated Online Shopping Trends
Many shoppers report making more purchases online since the pandemic started — particularly in Great Britain, where 55% said they began buying online more of the time.
As many of these shoppers are new or reluctant adopters of the online shopping experience, it’s essential that your brand experience is a compelling one.
Tip #1: Define Your Brand Identity — And Stick To It
You can’t have a consistent brand experience without a well-defined brand.
More than ever, shoppers want to know exactly what they’re getting into before making a purchase. With dozens of your brand’s touch points available at their fingertips, it’s essential to lock down your messaging, tone, style, etc. to maintain a reliable voice throughout your brand experience.
Remember: A company’s brand is much more than its logo, social media posts, and ads — it’s a holistic reflection of your company’s values, aspirations, and sense of community. It should be your company’s figurative North Star in all matters of decision-making.
Set Your Brand Apart
When developing a brand identity, first consider the factors that make your brand or product unique in the marketplace.
- How are you different from your competitors?
- What kinds of problems do you solve for your customers?
Your value proposition should appear prominently — and of course, consistently — throughout your channels.
Align on Company Values
From there, consider your company’s values:
- Do you have clear values and a straightforward mission statement?
- What kind of community do you foster with your customers and employees?
Clear, consistent principles will help to build brand trust, while retaining like-minded customers.
Know Your Customer
Finally, research your customers:
- How does your brand make them feel?
- How do they describe your brand to other people?
- Is your brand communicating its promises — and meeting them — effectively?
These sorts of self-assessments will go a long way in ensuring your brand meets the standards of both your company and customers.
Tip #2: Provide Accurate, Up-to-Date Product Data at Every Touch Point
The increasing number of information-driven customers also stresses the importance of maintaining accurate details on all of your product pages. Naturally, it’s important to not let customers associate inconsistencies in your brand experience with a poor product or service.
Alternatively, taking a proactive approach to product data management can bring its own rewards. Consider the case of Mars, Incorporated. The legendary candymaker was looking to develop an ecommerce experience that would replicate their in-store experience for online customers.
However, it was no small task. The company stored its product data in several different locations — a bit of a headache for employees, even when looking up simple information. Mars also operates many different kinds of stores in a variety of markets around the world.
To consolidate their product data, Mars worked with Salsify to create a single repository of information — empowering them to easily connect to 550 retailers. The company estimates it saved about 60,000 hours of content management time with the new system, making it easier than ever for them to provide an enhanced customer experience.
Maintaining a single, authoritative source of information on your products is an essential part of managing your brand’s spot on the digital shelf — especially if your company is managing product pages across numerous sales channels.
If your product pages are a bit of a mess, you aren’t alone — many brands will need to play “catch-up” at some point or another. Focus first on ensuring your best-selling products have consistent information across all product pages, and work your way down from there.
Tip #3: Ensure All Teams Are Aligned
So far, this post has discussed keeping your brand identity and product information consistent. But there’s one element of brand consistency that might be easy to overlook: your employees.
Make sure that everyone in your company is on the same page about your digital shelf strategy. Each department — from marketing to engineering — should be keeping their eyes on maintaining that consistent brand experience for your customers.
This process often starts with getting your executive team on board. Once leadership makes its brand priorities clear, there should be a top-down effect on the rest of the team. Departments should be assigned specific benchmarks, with rewards for meeting goals and fostering collaboration.
When your stakeholders are all focused on the same vision, values, and goals, your customers will increasingly see your organisation as a trustworthy brand that delivers on its promises.
Consistent Collaboration Is Key, Too
In addition to your internal teams and stakeholders aligning for brand consistency, seamless shopping experiences require you to work together with retailers, too — ensuring you meet consumer expectations and improve your digital shelf presence overall.
If you’re interested in learning more about breaking down the barriers between your brand and retailers, check out our guide.