The concept of the Digital Shelf in online stores has become a permanent fixture in the dictionary of people involved in e-commerce, and building the visibility of products in online stores has become one of the key goals of online marketing.

What is a Digital Shelf?

When shopping at a traditional grocery store, walking between the shelves, we are overwhelmed by the number of different products and offers. When we want to buy coffee, we meet several types and different producers. If we do not have specific preferences, what determines our choice? There are many factors, but the most important of them are:

  • Brand awareness
  • The appearance of the product – attractive packaging encourages you to buy
  • Visibility of products – if we can’t find a product on the shelf, because it is at the very bottom, we will not buy it
  • Price sales – still one of the key factors prompting customers to choose a specific product
  • Visual promotions – newsletters, banners, etc.

These factors contribute to the visibility and attractiveness of the product in the store.

In e-commerce it is similar. When browsing an online store, the customer goes through a process similar to shopping in a stationery store. The only difference is that the entire process takes place on the screen of your computer or phone, and the shelf is not physical, but digital. So, just like in an ordinary shop, we go in to buy sugar and leave with a full shopping bag.

Some e-commerce purchasing facts:

  • Over 60% of customers change their decision while browsing the store
  • Over 30% buy an additional, unplanned product
  • Over 80% of people are tempted with various promotions

These few statistics show that it is worth taking care of the visibility of your products in the online store, because it can significantly affect sales. In addition, the collected data can show us how our visibility compares to the competition and quickly react to changes.

What makes up the Digital shelf?

  • Product prices – the price is a key element of the offer and often can determine the attractiveness of the product for the customer. Monitoring the competitors’ prices cannot be omitted, as they are often a reference point for the customer to assess the profitability of purchasing our product.
  • Availability of products – goods can be purchased in the store only when they are available and preferably immediately. Product availability is, in addition to price monitoring, one of the most important factors determining sales volume.
  • Traffic sources – remember that you should also verify the visibility of products on the pages of auction sites (number of auctions/sellers), price comparison websites, and google shopping.
  • Product positions in search results – taking care of high positioning of our products in the search results based on the searched phrases
  • Positioning on category lists – product position on the list of a specific category page in the online store
  • Banners/advertisements – promotions in the graphic form displayed on the home page of the online store and category pages
  • Reviews and ratings – comments on the product pages
  • Product descriptions – the content on the product card, taking into account specific product features
  • Special offers – large online stores have dozens of types of promotions, but usually only a few of them are key. The most important ones are also most exposed by online stores, which significantly improves the visibility of products.

How to measure the visibility of a product on the Digital Shelf? (brand monitoring)

Price tracking

Frequently used measures in the case of price tracking are:

  • average price for the product/category (moving average, arithmetic average, etc.).
  • minimum prices/price changes – monitoring of the lowest prices, sometimes only for official distributors (own prices and competitors’ prices)

It is also necessary to track the competition prices, with which we compare our products. Thanks to this, it is possible to maintain the adopted pricing strategy and react to price changes in online stores.

Products availability

The most commonly used measures are:

  • the number of online stores where our product is available – obviously aiming at 100% of the assumed distribution.
  • number of traders on auction sites/number of offers in price comparison websites

Any unavailability means potential sales loss. Constant monitoring also allows you to track distributors with frequent availability problems, to optimize your supply chain.

Product position in search results

In this case, 2 measures are most often used:

  • average position of products in the results
  • a number of products in the top 5 of the results.

For these measures, it is of course necessary to prepare an appropriate list of phrases, based on which the results will be collected.

Product position in category lists

As in the search results, we most often use two measures:

  • average position of products in the results
  • number of products in the top 5 of the list

Banners

Banners should be viewed from two perspectives: quantitative and qualitative. The quality measure should take into account the size and location of the banner.

The most common measures are:

  • quantity and quality of banners on the home page
  • quantity and quality of banners on category pages
  • quantity and quality of banners pointing to a specific product (not only brand or special offer)

An image is worth more than 1000 words, which is why banners are a very effective way to promote your products. As this is the most frequently paid form of promotion, the collected data may allow us to estimate the advertising expenses of the competition.

An important advantage of banner monitoring is also the ability to verify the correctness of purchased advertising campaigns on the websites of online stores.

Reviews and ratings

The most commonly used measures are:

  • number of reviews
  • average rating
  • number of reviews added during last month

The data collected while monitoring comments also allows taking over dissatisfied customers from the competition by creating an appropriate message in marketing communication.

Product descriptions

The measures used are:

  • percentage of completeness of product descriptions according to the materials published by the manufacturer
  • number of photos in good quality
  • number of assigned parameters (features)
  • is there a video posted
  • is there a 3d presentation
  • description length

Having this data, we can estimate the quality and time of content implementation.

Special offers

The most common measures:

  • percentage of products in current special offers in the store
  • the number of products in the offers indirectly lowering the price, e.g. multi-items, discount codes, 0% installments

These are key values for brand visibility monitoring because the most important promotional campaigns are strongly promoted by stores in all their communication channels (including promotional newsletters, social networks, billboards, and many others).

Summary

Internet monitoring from the brand’s perspective is currently mainly:

  • social media monitoring
  • e-commerce monitoring

We must remember that e-commerce is not only online stores but also auction websites, price comparison websites, etc. Brand monitoring should comprehensively cover all places where our products are presented and sold.

The main task of Digital Shelf monitoring is the ability to compare with the competition and, in the long run, to analyze how our marketing activities affect sales.