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The digital landscape is increasingly fragmented and saturated. Hundreds (if not thousands) of products compete in the same category. Even if your brand is a market leader, there are so many channels — from Amazon and your direct-to-consumer (D2C) channel to third-party retailers websites — where consumers can purchase your products and services.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has also ushered in sweeping changes in consumer buying behaviors.
In this environment, achieving customer loyalty is the Holy Grail, but becoming the top brand choice for shoppers is both an ambitious goal and a constant challenge. Recent retail research from InMoment highlights why: 50% of customers have abandoned a brand that supposedly had their loyalty for a competitor who better met their needs.
Marketing intelligence firm Valassis found that consumers are using the current circumstances to test out new offerings from different brands. According to its survey, 19% of respondents said they are feeling less loyal to their current favorite brands — and 13% said they are looking for new brands to try.
Mike Moumoutjis, general manager of Goodbaby International, the global parenting products company behind well-known brands like Evenflo, says brands need to focus on three key tactics to become the top choice for consumers: pick your battles, build and test your strategy, and scale what you learn.
Moumoutjis says it's critical for brands to pick their battles, and that means knowing your market. Identify and understand the behaviors of your target audience, and learn how they engage with your brand.
His team recently completed an exercise where each member looked at their last five Amazon orders to understand consumer behavior better. What Moumoutjis discovered was that convenience, rather than relevancy, won out almost every time.
"You didn't know the brand, you didn't really even understand that much about the category," Moumoutjis says. "You literally went in there, and you purchased something just for the immediacy or the expediency of what it was."
"It's weird how we professionals look at ourselves in the world — and what we think the consumer does — and then we go out and just do the exact opposite," he says. "We just get our needs met by the internet in the most expedited way possible."
Moumoutjis' point is valid. Many consumers don't have the bandwidth to make very considered purchases every day, unless it's for big-ticket items like a car or TV — or, in Moumoutjis' case, baby products. They may compare prices, but the extent of their research may only be an online search for "the best products" in their intended purchase category.
"The truth is how we look at the world, how we set up our campaigns, and how we set up our products, it's very methodical," Moumoutjis says. "You make a spreadsheet, you put down what you do, what someone else might do, how they performed, and then you expect the consumer to go out and shop the same way."
Goodbaby International has done studies and found that 75% of its consumers only shop at a single brand. Moumoutjis says brand, marketing, and product teams spend too much time competing for these consumers, rather than focusing on the other 25% of consumers who do a lot of comparison shopping and may be brand-agnostic.
To successfully compete across channels, your brand must seize every opportunity to put its best digital foot forward. Delivering a better product experience — with accurate content, pricing details, and compelling product descriptions and imagery — is the best way for your brand to compete for this smaller subset of consumers and become the top brand choice for shoppers.
Online retail has become more dynamic. Prices and messaging change depending on when and where consumers see a product — and can even be based on their previous online behavior. In this environment, gathering insights from metrics and using this data to drive a comprehensive product strategy has gotten more difficult.
"It's wreaked havoc on people really being able to get down and provide true visibility of what success looks like," Moumoutjis says.
To combat this, Moumoutjis suggests building a small test case internally, since this allows more room for experimentation and the ability to fail quickly and learn fast. But before you even launch a test, be sure everyone in the organization is aligned and understands that incremental change often can produce better results than big, hairy audacious goals.
"It really comes down to having everyone agree on first having a strategy of what you want to change with the consumer in the digital space. That's a big one," Moumoutjis says. "A lot of times, we don't have a strategy. We just have either an intent or desire. That doesn't always equal out to success."
You can start by looking at what parts of the digital product experience your team wants to change over the long term. From there, formulate a test that aligns your product, sales, and brand teams on these objectives.
Success may mean achieving these key performance indicators (KPIs), but it also could come in the form of generating meaningful insights about which tactics worked and which didn't. With a smaller test, less is at stake, but the learnings you gain could lay the groundwork for future success.
Goodbaby International is successfully using this approach with its newly launched sub-brand, Evenflo Gold. The D2C offering isn't just about driving revenue; it's also about driving loyalty.
"What it was developed to do was to make us the first choice of a specific set of consumers," Moumoutjis says. "So, since we can't get everybody to pick us as number one, we picked people who would really be excited about a pure digital value proposition, who want a 100-day return and a lifetime warranty."
"Granted it's a small group of people," he says. "But we found a way to make it number one with them."
Moumoutjis adds that "small, tactical wins actually drive a ton of insights back of the organization." Through Evenflo Gold, his company has discovered that this audience prefers simple, straightforward messaging. Moumoutjis's team is now applying these insights across the brand's entire catalog to streamline how Evenflo communicates with customers.
What Goodbaby has essentially done is conducted research and development (R&D) on a smaller scale to fit a digitally-oriented business case. Your brand can do the same by matching your organization's strengths with where you want to be and which consumers you want to engage. With this approach, you can steadily innovate and move from one of the many brands consumers consider to their number one choice.
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