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    Why Engaging Content Makes Winning Digital Shelf Experiences

    April 15, 2021
    7 minute read
    Why Engaging Content Makes Winning Digital Shelf Experiences

    Consumers increasingly demand engaging product content on the digital shelf, but creating this content at scale can be challenging for brands.

    This need for content is rooted in the completely altered strategies of online retail. What was once a strategy nailed down in concrete has evolved into the complete inversion of traditional retail.

    Brand manufacturers would sell their products to retailers; retailers would sell products to consumers. There was limited shelf space, and the brands’ main focus was the retailer — not the consumer.

    But in today’s digital world, brands are selling through the retailer, not to the retailer. Retailers attract customers with the digital shopping experiences they crave, and more consumers on retailer websites create more value for brand manufacturers to sell through those sites.

    Brands are in charge of the consumer experience instead of the retailer.

    Nathan Teplow, senior product marketing manager at Salsify, recently invited two digital shelf leaders, Frans Vriesendorp, CEO and founder of INDG, and Jasmin Quellmann, head of global content creation and distribution at Beiersdorf AG, to discuss this paradigm shift and the strategies needed to win with this new retail strategy.

    Competition Is Infinite on the Digital Shelf

    Even brick-and-mortar category leaders, known for being prominent household names, have lost market share on ecommerce channels. But brick-and-mortar strategy is very different from omnichannel strategy.

    Brands are now responsible for more: better content, engaging product experiences, a more comprehensive selection of channels — and it can be challenging to keep up.

    According to the 2020 Salsify consumer research report, 45% of shoppers abandoned a purchase because of bad product content like low-quality (or too) few images. Why? Shoppers rely on this digital content to build confidence in the products and brands they buy online.

    Your content also has to beat out the competition. The scale and distribution challenges that exist in the brick-and-mortar retail landscape don't exist online.

    While there may be a small handful of brands on the physical shelf in your category, you'll likely find dozens of competitors on the digital shelf on the first page alone. These competitors are digitally native and know how to create winning content online.

    How To Develop a Digital Shelf Strategy

    The product detail page (PDP) serves the entire customer journey from initial discovery through to conversion — and ideally, repeated purchase. Through your content and experiences, your offerings on the PDP have to differentiate you from your competition.

    Being discovered on the digital shelf can be challenging. According to Marketplace Pulse research, 78% of keyword searches on Amazon are unbranded.

    Examining the top 100 searches on Amazon in January 2021 reveals that branded search terms fell into three primary categories: Apple products, Amazon products, and popular gaming brands.

    If you’re Amazon, Apple, or a leader in the gaming industry, you’re probably finding discoverability isn’t an issue. But, if you’re not one of those brands, you’ll need to work the algorithm to land in the top search results.

    The importance of content showcases on the digital shelf in many ways. Consumers demand it, and the best-selling products have it.

    Consider how Amazon sells its products on its site. To win the search, your content needs to be of the highest quality. Your product descriptions should be descriptive and provide accurate information that your customers need.

    Your content needs to also convince your customers that your products are the best ones for them. Take clues from Amazon in how they market and sell Amazon-branded products on their site. Amazon creates highly editorialized imagery, with text overlays to describe what the product does, how it works, or how it would be used through lifestyle imagery.

    Amazon focuses its shopping journey on the content that sells.

    Finally, turn your shoppers into customers — and ideally, loyal ones — by creating content that engages them during the shopping experience. Maximize your entire PDP’s real estate with below-the-fold content that showcases the product and the brand’s story.

    If your product is vegan, tell them. If it’s all-natural, organic, recyclable or recycled, or any other notable attribute, be sure to explain that throughout your product content.

    Create Engaging Content at Scale to Keep Up With the Speed of Commerce

    Once you’ve determined the strategy and the content you want to create, the next problem is scale. Six images and three videos for every SKU in your catalog will add up quickly. And keeping up with the consumer side is only half the battle.

    Retailers constantly change the requirements for how they want brands to submit content to them and the attributes required to go live. Amazon and Target both changed their requirements multiple times per week in 2020.

    To keep up with the constant changes and the seemingly insurmountable amount of content you need to create, brands need a system in place that creates high-quality content at scale.

    There are several solutions on the market that help brands do just that. Template-based content creation can help brands create content that keeps up with the market pace. You can also codify content that helps drag-and-drop high-quality product images into lifestyle media. An exponential solution is the only way to solve an exponential problem.

    Creating this content at scale can create richer content quickly. It’s no longer possible to make content by yourself at the rate at which it’s needed. Brands are routinely looking for outside support, whether through their tech stack, content creation agencies, or both.

    But once it’s made possible, brands can enable their customers to truly experience the brand and its products. 

    Watch the full webinar to learn more about creating content at scale to keep up with the speed of modern commerce.


    Written by: Brian Johnson

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