Avoid the 3 Online Traps That Kill CPG Sales

Remember the last TV you bought? If you’re like most people, you conducted research comparing features, prices and support before making a final purchase decision. What about the last new candy bar or spaghetti sauce you bought? Not so much, right? You probably were inspired by seeing it while shopping and briefly thought, “this looks interesting, I’ll give it a try” before tossing it into your cart.

This makes it a “low involvement” product, and pretty much all CPG items fit tightly into this category. As grocery sales migrate online with fewer people spending less time wandering aisles in stores, CPG brands are faced with a challenge: How do they replicate these impulse purchases in the e-commerce world, where attractive end cap displays and other point-of-sale marketing collateral aren’t relevant?

Brands that fail to evolve from traditional methodologies in marketing their products are doomed to experience lower sales as consumers spend less time in grocery stores. This is a segment that’s growing rapidly, particularly among millennial and Gen Z consumers.

Here are three traps that CPG brands marketing online should avoid at all costs:

1. Never make interested consumers search for your product. CPG brands excel at marketing, and many are doing it quite well online as well. However, the old model of CPG marketing, where the brand advertises in order to build awareness and then uses in-store marketing to remind and motivate purchases, is retiring.

Opportunities to remind are dwindling and building awareness now carries the burden of also motivating sales. That’s why it’s so important for all online marketing to provide a simple path to conversion. When consumers see a product that captures their interest online, don’t put the responsibility on them to then go seek it out. They won’t (remember, this is a low-involvement purchase). Instead, treat it like an impulse purchase in-store. You see it, you like it, here’s how to buy it right now.

2. Don’t complicate the path to conversion. Once you’ve taken control of the buying process, streamlining it is vital. Every extra click and field to fill out results is more prospective buyers abandoning the transaction. Remember how long it takes to see an item in-store and place it in a shopping cart? That’s how long it should take to make a similar purchase online.

Achieving this goal requires selecting retail partners wisely because CPG brands rely on them for fulfillment. When we speak of completing an online transaction, what we’re really talking about is adding items to a digital cart. Once items are in a cart, they’re fulfilled when the consumer converts the entire order. Expecting fulfillment for a single CPG product is unrealistic. The path from clicking an interesting product online to having it placed in an online cart must be seamless and easy. Making it so depends on smart tactics and selecting retail partners that share the same commitment to ease of purchase.

3. Avoid requiring instant checkout or using unfamiliar retailers. It’s also extremely important to partner with well-known retailers that consumers already trust for fulfillment. Even if you’re Procter & Gamble, people aren’t going to make their detergent check out with you, then move to another manufacturer to buy their dog food and so on. They want the one-stop convenience their favorite retailer provides. Don’t try to sell it yourself. Similarly, don’t trap shoppers into buying from retailers where they don’t already have a cart. It’s wise to use established grocers or online retailers to fulfill orders, and it’s best to work with those that have large presences in the markets they serve — i.e., those that can deliver directly or let a shopper buy online and pick up in-store.

Online grocery shoppers tend to use carts like shopping lists. As they think of items, they simply add them to their carts and fulfill the order when they’re ready. In CPG e-commerce, adding an item to a cart is analogous to conversion; products are rarely removed from carts before they’re fulfilled. Streamline the ability to add to online carts, but don’t require immediate checkout.

CPG brands that are marketing successfully online are already winning half the battle, but it’s all for naught if they’re unable to convert with speed and efficiency. Deeply understanding and leveraging buying behaviors specific to online shopping are key to longevity in this quickly evolving market.

This article originally appeared on Total Retail.

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