Black Friday tips to win on the digital shelf


November 11, 2021

There's still time to save the holiday retail season

This season of gift-giving (or more accurately, gift-buying) has already begun well ahead of Black Friday. Amazon, for example, quickly hopped on the early Black Friday train, offering deals in October, and others quickly followed suit to maximize online revenues on and off the digital shelf.

While some of the push from retailers might be to get ahead of the curve with expected shipping delays and supply chain slowdowns, at the same time, statistics say that consumers are all-too ready to make their purchases. One of those reasons is that over the past two years, in light of the in-store restrictions and lockdowns, the world has gotten used to online purchasing. It has forced shoppers to reconsider previous hesitations around digital commerce and it’s not likely to revert back to pre-pandemic behaviors.

This year is expected to be the biggest retail season yet, achieving a 10% increase from last year’s numbers. According to the Adobe Digital Economy Index, a new milestone will be reached in e-commerce globally this year with $4.1 trillion in online spending alone. So how can retailers and brands make the most of their opportunities on the digital shelf?

3 tips to win on the digital shelf

1. Marketplaces matter:

Do you know where your shoppers start their online product search? It’s not Google, and it’s definitely not your website. In fact, 44% of online product searches start with a marketplace like Amazon, eBay, or Zalando according to a recent report from inriver, “Inside the mind of an online shopper.” The report is based on a survey of 6,000 online consumers from across the US, UK, and Germany to understand current shopper behaviors and purchase paths. One of the biggest takeaways was the fact that marketplaces have risen significantly in importance to shoppers.

Only 19% of shoppers start their research on search engines like Google and only 9% on a brand website. This means that retailers and brands need to ensure their products are not only selling across the various marketplaces globally and that they are optimizing their products there as well. And that isn’t an easy task given the scale marketplaces offer.

2. Product information insights:

As more shoppers look to leverage the advantages of digital commerce this holiday season, they need to have confidence in their purchases. This means they will rely on product information more than ever before they hit the buy button. If you can’t touch a product, how do you know it’s the right material, size, or shape? Product information becomes the single most important element when making a purchase online and the written descriptions are what shoppers value most.

69% of online shoppers surveyed report they have decided not to make a purchase due to a poor product description. And, written product descriptions (39%) are the most important when making a purchase with images (24%) coming in next, and videos coming in last (12%). You can have the best products in the world, but if you aren’t describing them properly across channels, or have missing information, you will most likely lose the sale and the customer. Have enough of these issues and it will impact revenues this holiday season and into the next.

Inside the mind of an online shopper

3. Stop stock-outs

Black Friday deals are what this retail season is known for. Shoppers look to scoop up popular items for great prices and tend to follow the best deals well before the holiday to ensure they minimize their spend and optimize their gift-giving. If brands and retailers are advertising a certain item, generating enthusiasm for the sale and it is out-of-stock, well, that’s an issue.

Don’t disappoint a shopper on a mission when you should be able to manage inventory and out-of-stocks before it happens.

The good news is that with the right technology and insights into the mind of your online shopper, typical Black Friday challenges can be solved. Foundational marketing and e-commerce solutions that top brands and retailers use today often include product information management (PIM) and digital shelf analytics (DSA) solutions. The volume and scale of product information that is created and managed online and off for retailers are unprecedented. It is only increasing with each new sales channel. With every product comes written content, videos, reviews, SKUs, dimensions, and more to help sell it. All of which need to be localized, translated, and syndicated across channels and marketplaces. That means there are thousands of pieces of product information to be managed and it is not a task to attempt manually.

Without the right solution in place, inaccurate or missing product information can quickly become the fastest way to lose a customer or a “how the Grinch who stole Christmas” experience.

Either way, it’s not ideal and impacts revenue. However, implementing a PIM and DSA solution gives a brand the ability to scale, to manage product content from beginning to end, all the while monitoring and preventing those pesky out-of-stocks and under-performing content.

Black Friday may be underway for some retailers, but the big day is still to come for many. There’s time to take control of your digital shelf and make sure your customers buy from you. Pay attention to the marketplaces where customers head first to shop and ensure you are delivering consistent product information (written and other types). Lastly, avoid the stock-outs by monitoring products in real-time to avoid a frustrating customer experience and angry holiday shoppers.

Download the results of the “Inside of the mind of an online shopper” ebook for more insights and maximize your Black Friday.

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  • Erika Goldwater, CIPP

    Director of Global Communications

    Erika Goldwater is the director of global communications for inriver. An industry veteran, Erika lives and breathes B2B marketing, content, public relations, and data privacy. She's a Boston marketer who hails from Baltimore.

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