However, just being present on AliBaba, Zalando or Amazon is not enough to win at commerce. Although marketers state that online marketplaces are the most difficult environment to deliver a strong customer experience[i], brands cannot be passive within these highly competitive areas. To grow sales, increase market share, and protect brand image, brands need marketplace optimisation.
The first step is making sure you are available on the marketplaces where consumers are looking for you. Marketplace contribution in sales varies a lot according to each brand, even within the same industry. For instance, adidas’ share of brand purchases on marketplaces is 54% when Nike’s share is only 29%.[ii] It is thus critical to understand where your consumers really are before investing resources in a new platform. Product assortment must also be considered. Brands don’t need to sell all their products on Amazon and should review factors such as whether they can easily deliver the product to the client, ensure uninterrupted stocks, preserve their existing commercial relations, and make a sustainable margin.
A brand must be easily discovered. Do you know what words users are searching for? Do you use the same phrasing in your content? Are your products’ headlines optimised? For iProspect clients, maximising visibility and sales on marketplaces is the fastest growing priority, and Amazon has been the platform with the greater progression year- on-year in terms of perceived impact on their audiences.[iii] Paid platform merchandising can help brands increase their digital shelf. For instance, Amazon proposes many advertising options to grow your visibility, your sales, and even indirectly your search rankings, such as sponsored products or sponsored brands.
Online marketplaces are increasingly popular destinations for people shopping for clothing. As the industry becomes even more competitive and to sustain growth, fashion companies must develop long-term strategies for marketplace platforms. To emerge from competition on Amazon, BRAX, a German leading brand for premium casual garments, leveraged content and paid placements. BRAX first analysed how selected products performed on Amazon and the impact on its profitability. From these insights, the brand was able to better align product page content with consumer expectations, so that people could easily find the information they wanted. BRAX then combined Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands to stand out in the Amazon search engine results. By constantly managing product inventory, BRAX was able to counteract the negative effect of sold out or restricted products (which often happens in the fashion segment on Amazon). As a result of ongoing optimisations, BRAX successfully increased the organic product visibility by 79% and noticed 4 x more clicks and 4 x more conversions.
Too often people land on product pages but cannot find the information they want. The competitiveness of the offer is obviously critical, from the price point, to shipping time, to the availability of specific programmes such as Prime. While traditional retail limits the information you can put on a box, the digital shelf gives you the freedom to clearly list all the features and fine print the consumer needs to see. All too often negative reviews stem from the consumer expecting something, only to be disappointed after making a purchase. Do you present your product clearly, with useful information and compelling visuals and enriched content? Lacking the ability to physically examine or test the product, consumers appreciate those who present their product honestly and attractively, rewarding them with the sale over the competition.
Does the overall shopping experience promote repeated purchases? The relationship with the consumer doesn’t end at the purchase but continues through to delivery and usage. Did products arrive in a timely manner? Were customers satisfied with your service after something went wrong? These are expectations of today’s consumer, and if they are not met the consumer will likely try a competitor the next time.
Subscription services help the consumer make repeat purchases by decreasing the busy work of shopping. It’s much easier to say “Alexa, buy me that cereal again from last week” than it is to open an app or website and go through the whole process again.
The rating culture has spread to all industries: 94% of us consult reviews while shopping and 86% of consumers consider reviews an essential resource when making a purchase decision.[iv] As a direct barometer of how the brand delivered to previous customers, reviews inform us about the reliability of the service provider and its capacity to be trusted. Brand logos used to be the key proxies to convey a certain sense of quality and reliability to consumers, but now reviews are consumers’ preferred resources for making informed decisions.
All too often, traditional brands focus on the image they want to portray and the messages they want to project, but those who listen and engage most with the consumer are winning out. Although marketers see reviews as the biggest risk to consumer trust with their brands[v], only 38% of them declare taking a proactive role, i.e., playing an active role in the discussion and engaging conversations with reviewers.
Because they have such a strong influence on shaping consumer choice, reviews have a huge impact in driving traffic, sales and insights. On Amazon, having ratings and reviews in place means a traffic lift of 90%, a conversion lift of 50% and a sales lift about 75%.[vi] A product below 3.5 stars and without a minimum of 15 reviews simply cannot be advertised in campaigns on the platform!
Ratings and reviews also play a role beyond the sole marketplace ecosystem, improving the brand presence in search engine results pages by improving relevance and freshness of content.
This article is excerpted from Future Focus 2019: Searching for Trust. Download Future Focus 2019 for key insights and success stories on navigating truth and authenticity in 2019.
[i] PWC, ‘Global Consumer Insights Survey 2018: New business models in the ecommerce era’, Sep 2017
[ii] iProspect 2018 Global Client Survey, October 2018
[iii] Jumpshot, ‘Jump the Garden Walls’, Data Report Q4 2017
[iv] iProspect 2018 Global Client Survey, October 2018
[v] Internal evaluations by Amazon Media Group Germany, as reported by Peter Lauck, former Head of Sales at Amazon Media Group Germany and now Director eCommerce at iProspect Germany
[vi] iProspect 2018 Global Client Survey, October 2018
[vii] Internal evaluations by Amazon Media Group Germany, as reported by Peter Lauck, former Head of Sales at Amazon Media Group Germany and now Director eCommerce at iProspect Germany