How Innovation and Experimentation is Defining Successful Retailers

How Innovation and Experimentation is Defining Successful Retailers

Bricks to Clicks: Chapter Seven Summary

In our seventh post in our “Bricks to Clicks” summary series, (you can read our last post HERE) this week, we’re talking about chapter seven of Content Analytics founder and CEO David Feinleib’s book Bricks to Clicks: Why Some Brands Will Thrive in E-Commerce and Others Won't.

 

Chapter 7: The Retailer Challenge (and Opportunity)

If the so-called retail apocalypse has taught us anything, it’s this: some retailers have been too slow to recognize and respond to the radical changes in online shopping habits. The Internet has taught shoppers to be increasingly value-conscious, and this generation of shoppers knows how to look for the best deals. To retain their loyalty, every retailer or brand needs to become a shopper’s best source of information.

 

Supplier Portals: The Difference in Bricks to Clicks Success Models

Retailers that provide their suppliers with robust and user-friendly supplier portals ensure those suppliers have more control over the selling and shipping their products. We first launched our supplier portal with Walmart, cutting down the inconvenient wait period for suppliers that were simply looking to update their content.

As we’ve outlined in other posts, suppliers used to provide product information to retailers through a patchwork of spreadsheets, legacy FTP uploads, and various XML feeds. Our portal became an easy and centralized way for suppliers to update their product content not just with Walmart, but with other major retailers as well.

Our cloud-based Master Catalog for retailers accelerates the transition from the old-world brick and mortar sales model to an e-commerce environment. Suppliers have a method to deliver updated and accurate images, product information and other content to the retailer, and they see those changes go live in minutes, not weeks.

 

Heatmaps: Providing Actionable Data to Retailers and Their Sellers

Content Analytics provides content health data sitewide. That data is then converted into a sitewide heatmap, segmented in actionable ways (by department, for example) so management knows where the greatest opportunities for improvement are. That information can then be shared with a retailer’s merchants, bringing them into an interactive and productive conversation about why content health matters to both retailers and sellers equally.

 

Pricing and Inventory Alerts

Retailers use our system to notify buyers when products suddenly go out of stock. Our pricing reports show when and how pricing needs to be adjusted based on competitive analysis.

 

Assortment

Third-party marketplaces are perhaps the most disruptive businesses in the retail world. Their business models vary slightly in terms of shipping, payment, and fulfillment. Our dashboard provides global views of item assortment for sellers and retailers.

 

Item Setup

We help retailers streamline the item setup process using our cloud-based solution, so sellers have an easy and fast way to manage product page content. Our direct API connection to retailers like Walmart ensure that these updates go live instantly, so products and retailers retain high search rankings when shoppers are doing their product research.

 

Unique Content and SEO

Retailers all ask sellers to maintain unique content on their site to diversify the competitive environment as much as possible. If sellers create uniform content on every retailer platform, search engine rankings suffer for both the seller and the site. Both sellers and retailers need an expedited, cloud-based content management platform (like ours) to manage and plan all of their content and SEO efforts consistently. With our platform implemented: we’ve seen page visits jump by 14 percent and sometimes as much as 30 percent.

 

A/B Testing

Often, retailers and sellers use our platform to measure which of two page layouts perform better. While personalization hasn’t driven online shopping as the market once assumed it did, ratings and reviews are highly influential.

 

Ratings and Reviews

Studies prove that products with at least 21 reviews receive twice the traffic of products without reviews. Ratings, when managed properly, become a great source of unique content for retailers. Rather than relying on syndicated reviews (from a supplier like BazaarVoice or BuzzAgent), native reviews (created directly on the retailer site) provide unique and proprietary content that differentiates a retailer’s content, improving search rankings and the end-user experience.

 

Bricks to Clicks and Fearless Experimentation

We say all the time that experimentation, and the willingness to be open to change, is often what differentiates bricks to clicks success stories. Systems like Q&A sections and live chats may still be too new to measure in terms of how well they drive revenue. What they show is a willingness for e-commerce platforms to learn to engage with customers in new and diverse ways.

Subscription models are all lagging behind Prime and Amazon’s overwhelming success. While it’s unlikely that other retailers can replicate a Prime-like model, online-only subscription sellers like Birchbox and Ipsy are obvious concepts that are working today. Time will tell how well those single-channel sellers can scale.

Apple has turned single-channel sales into a near art form, with an in-store experience that is singular even among physical retailers. Amazon is getting ready to launch brick and mortar stores, and more and more people are enjoying the convenience of buying their household groceries online.

 

Competitive Insights

Today’s retailers need competitive insights on a daily basis. Reports on pricing, promotions, assortments, and content quality are far more important in the online space than the physical retail world. Competitive data often determines how Amazon and Walmart’s algorithms change the pricing for a product in real-time throughout the day. Competitive insights also drive content creation and content quality; for example, verifying which technical specs a competitor lists for consumer electronic devices.

 

Single-Channel E-Tailers and Delivery Drones

Niche retailers are specializing in single channel products, and are fast to market thanks to setup and management apps like Shopify. As the online market develops, it looks increasingly like we’ll see a handful of big mass-market retailers retain their market share and an increasing number of specialty retailers that appeal to target shoppers will continue to innovate and develop.

Will Amazon own the last mile with their delivery drones? It’s too soon to tell, but it’s also too soon to write them off. The point: big omnichannel sellers like Walmart and Amazon will continue to experiment and find ways to get their products to online shoppers as quickly and as conveniently as they can.

 

Summary

Retailers often use third-party systems to support and expand their online business. Cloud-based item setup and content management systems like ours facilitate improved content quality for both retailers and sellers. Unique content engages both shoppers and search engines for a more compelling shopping experience. Our competitive analysis and content health reports empower organizations to deliver increased site visits and better conversion rates.

 

Get your copy of David Feinleib's latest book at Amazon.com.

 

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