The E-commerce Engine is Revving. Can Retailers and Brands Gear Up to Compete?

The E-commerce Engine is Revving. Can Retailers and Brands Gear Up to Compete?

According to eMarketer, consumers are leading nothing short of a buying revolution. U.S. online sales are expected to grow to more than $300B this year alone. And that growth is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

That would appear to be great news for e-commerce retailers and the brands they sell. But all that growth isn’t being spread equally. According to Practical eCommerce, consumers are spending more of those online dollars with big retailers—leaving out the smaller and niche players.

“Total U.S. ecommerce sales are likely to grow about 15.5 percent, with large online retailers — it would seem — enjoying the lion’s share of the growth.”1

Why the inequity? Speculation has centered on the fact that smaller merchants might not be as well-resourced as the bigger players. Smaller sites may not be as able as large retailers to have a mobile-optimized site, offer free shipping, or offer in-store pick up options.

But research from Content Analytics suggests that getting the basics right can actually make smaller merchants and the brands they sell just as competitive as the big vendors.

Search is the New Shelf Space

While about half of online shoppers begin by going directly to a specific retailer site, almost as many (44%)2 start with a product search. So smaller retailers and brands need to make sure that the products they’re listing show up effectively in search engines, because nearly 97% of all Google referrals come from Page 1 and 2 results.

All this begs the most obvious question: Just how do small brands make it to page 1 or 2, given all that the big brands spend to dominate?

Our research indicates that three key elements play an oversized role in driving product pages to better placement, and even smaller retailers and brands can optimize these factors, if they have the right tools.

Three Key Factors Drive Search Performance of Product Pages in eCommerce:

  1. Effective use of KEYWORDS
  2. Providing high quality LISTINGS
  3. Rich and frequent REVIEWS

Look for our next post for our research on these factors and best practice advice for brands, retailers and their agencies.

1Practical eCommerce, 4 Predictions for the 2014 Holiday Shopping Season, by Armando Roggio, August 20, 2014

2Media Bistro, “Social, Mobile Search—Amazing e-Commerce Stats and Figures”, June 2014.

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