6 Ways to Own (or lose) Customers at the Virtual Shelf Space

All CPG marketers know that bad things happen when shelf placement in stores is not monitored. We have seen it all: unopened shippers, broken coupon machines, and competitors taking your prime position.  Unless you keep a close watch on your shelf space many of your products can end up unnoticed and ultimately unsold.

Even worse things can happen on virtual shelves, particularly for brands without plans to monitor what is happening across their networks of retailers.  Through our work with top CPG brands, we’ve identified the top 6 things you want to watch for your brand in order to keep your online products as neatly stocked on the virtual shelf as in brick and mortar stores.

  1. Keep a close eye out for missing products and being crowded out by competitors

You’re wondering why your gluten-free version isn’t as successful as planned. Is it because it’s not showing up at all? Or because a competitor has introduced 4 new gluten-free options that have knocked your product to a virtual “back shelf?”

  1. Make sure your product name is consistent and complete

Are you being called what you want to be called and are the right products listed with the right names? Just last week, we found a spot where a brand name had been misspelled, throughout a whole category at a major retailer! Easy to fix, but you have to watch for when it happens.

  1. Keep everything looking picture perfect

You worked hard to create those 360 degree views of your product – are they showing up where they should be?  If not, you’re missing upside opportunities, but it could be worse … we’ve seen upside-down product shots, competitive products mixed into image galleries, and hero image shots of the bottom of a package.  You want to address all of these right away.

  1. Track and optimize your search placement

What shows up when shoppers search your brand, or your generic descriptor? Are you well-placed vs your competition, or are you buried? Are the retailer’s products showing up before yours when your brand is searched?  And, how is it different from yesterday or last week? Search results can change daily and you want to keep track. This is something you can – and should – influence.

  1. Proactively manage pricing – yours and competitors

You may have a way to monitor for MAP, but what about pricing moves within the allowed bands?  Competitor price drops and promotions can be real threats to your market share, unless you’re aware and prepared to respond. Online changes happen fast, and can be impossible to track without the right system in place.

  1. Verify distribution

Are there any distributions holes in where your products are not being displayed, or available? Believe it or not, your product may missing for buyers in some states/regions.  You want to make sure you’re not missing shopper opportunities, or frustrating would-be buyers in areas where you’re marketing.

We’ve all seen the research showing that CPG is exploding online – from $22 billion to $100 billion over the next year or so.  As consumers make this move to online shopping, brands have an unprecedented opportunity to gain visibility of, and control over, their consumers’ complete brand experience – from discovery, to purchase, to use, to repurchase.  One of the best places to start driving/leveraging this control is at the virtual shelf.  

This post was first published on the Retail TouchPoints Blog.

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