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While keeping brand identities intact online may seem like a new challenge stemming from the rise of the digital shelf, maintaining control has long been an issue. Before the rise of the digital shelf, many brands lacked control over the in-store placement, appearance, and pricing of their products.
Through retailer requirements, these digital channels still make much of the call about what goes online and how you get it there. But this is a consumer’s world — and brands and retailers have to adapt to it.
Shoppers increasingly demand more than a basic product page, as product information drives both search and sales. Successful brands and retailers continually optimize to ensure these content experiences engage and compel shoppers to click “buy.”
A 2017 study of 46,000 shoppers by the Harvard Business Review showed over 70% of consumers used multiple channels to discover, research, and buy. The multichannel approach meets shopper’s demands for an omnichannel experience that allows them to research and shop across a wide variety of platforms.
Imagine your customer spots one of your top-selling products on Instagram while sitting on her couch. Later, while on her lunch break at work, she reengages with that product and does some research online about it. The next week, she checks the price for the item on her phone while waiting in line to purchase it at a retail store.
Wherever your customer shops — whether online or in-store — she wants a smooth, unified experience. This is brand identity.
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Whether it’s product information and images on Instagram, a direct-to-consumer (DTC) website, or on your product packaging on a retailer’s shelves, the consistency of your messaging across every touchpoint is essential to establishing brand trust.
Shoppers want to find information about your products — fast. The more places your brand houses consistent product information, the quicker consumers will find the answers they need.
Some brands imagine that a direct-to-consumer site is the final solution, assuming that consumers know where brands are and how to find them. The danger with this line of thinking is consumers — consciously or not — expect brands to meet them at every touchpoint.
Buying products online and picking them up in a store is more popular than ever, as 68% of consumers have already used this service, according to 2019 research from Business Insider. Many other shoppers use apps to purchase groceries and other essential items online. Both of these groups are expanding every day.
While there are many questions currently looming about the future of commerce, it’s easy to predict that the push for digital will only continue to expand.
A strong brand identity breeds loyalty and repeat customers. The Harvard Business Review study showed omnichannel consumers to be more valuable than single-channel shoppers. With each additional channel shopped, omnichannel shoppers spent more money and became repeat shoppers.
The Harvard Business Review study also revealed that six months after an omnichannel shopping experience, the customers had logged 23% more repeat shopping trips and were more likely to recommend the brand to family and friends than those who used a single channel.
Maintaining brand identity on the digital shelf can seem tricky. But, as elusive as brand ownership might feel right now, it’s possible to control how your product content appears to consumers. There are six essential steps for taking control of your brand identity on the digital shelf.
Step back from looking at each channel individually and look at the entire landscape of where your products can be found. This is the product experience consumers have with your brand. To them, a product is a product — regardless of where it’s shopped.
Brands must utilize a product information management system (PIM) to ensure content is accurate and consistent before it even leaves their company’s hands. Having a single source of product content truth allows brands to manage and optimize product information for every channel.
Consumers expect their shopping experiences to feel as though it was built specifically for them. They want customized product suggestions, product content that seems written for their lives, and brand images that reflect their interests. They also want these experiences across the channels they frequent most.
What’s viewed on one retailer site must match what’s seen on another. Brands must be able to activate matching product content for every channel, also known as syndication. Syndication sends product content from your platform to your retailers — allowing your team to maintain multiple versions of product content to fit every unique retailer requirement.
This helps your brand ensure product consistency, no matter where your products appear.
Employ enhanced content to stand out and highlight your products and brand story. Editorialized content and images captivate shoppers and help them better understand how and why your products surpass the competition.
Voice-enabled shopping, social commerce, and augmented reality (AR)-based shopping experiences will only going to grow in popularity. Look ahead, and prepare for those shopping avenues now by taking the first steps toward digital transformation.
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