The Coronavirus pandemic brought an old realization back to businesses – The devil is in the detail. As stores shut and opened tentatively, Amazon’s delivery cycles stretched and returned, and brands reconfigured production-supply chain combinations several times in a span of months, one thing was clear – staying strong and emerging through the current chaos would require close attention to details on a real-time basis:
- Where is the demand moving?
- What’s my inventory?
- What are my operating costs and profit margins on one channel vs. another?
- What are my buyers’ other options right now?
- How do I optimize digital assortments?
- What are the new and emerging customer needs?
And amid the chaos, another thing became apparent to brands – they needed a robust digital strategy to not just drive through this crisis but to thrive in the emerging world. Driven by lockdown restrictions and the desire for safety, more consumers have moved online.
According to research by Adobe Analytics, the total U.S. online sales reached $73.2 billion in June 2020, year over year up 76.2% (from $41.5 billion the previous year).
Consumer research by various teams at Course5 Intelligence has shown that the pandemic has created a large population of first-timers on eCommerce, with a massive increase in online spending by those who were already shopping online earlier. Most research respondents said that their shopping would continue to be omnichannel in the future, with an increased share of online.
And yet that’s only part of the reason why brands need an effective digital strategy. Even before consumers buy their products, they are looking online for information on what they want, availability, meeting the safety standards, and aligning with their preferences and needs. Google and Amazon have become the first point of research when users when to buy something, so digital lies at the very start of their purchase journey. And this is also where digital has distinctive strength over offline channels – the space and scope for a brand to define their brand, highlight distinguishing characteristics from competitor products, share user reviews to gain credibility, and deliver highly customized price-product offers, optimizing gain for buyers and the business.
However, many CPG companies do not have their direct-to-consumer platforms; many are still focused on partnering with a variety of e-marketplaces that exist globally or regionally.
How do you optimize your brand parameters for eCommerce platforms?
Even though many brands have set up their own D2C sites (for instance, PepsiCo’s snacks.com and pantryshop.com), there is no comparison in reach with major eCommerce platforms such as Amazon, Walmart, Flipkart, Shopify, Tesco, Target, Alibaba, Costco among others; your brand needs to be here. Each of these platforms has different engagement parameters for brands. While Amazon has 1P (1st party – Amazon is the wholesale buyer and markets and sells to consumers) and 3P (3rd party – Brand sells direct to consumer via Amazon) options, with Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) and FBM (Fulfilment by Merchant) options within 3P, others have a variety of other arrangements brands must choose. Making more significant decisions such as choosing the platform/s you want your brand on, the right selling/fulfillment strategy and base pricing to fine-tuning the advertising, product messaging, price, optimizing the supply value chain and product assortment on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis requires a combination of real-time contextual insight and the digital capabilities to be responsive.
Course5 Intelligence has been helping CPG, Retail, and Technology brands use AI-driven insight mechanisms and digital capabilities to define their eCommerce strategy and improve revenues in three broad ways —
WIN THE DIGITAL SHELF BATTLE
- Price — How do I optimize my pricing strategy based on various trends?
- Product portfolio — How do I optimize my product portfolio and packaging initiatives?
- Catalog — Which categories do I overplay?
- Market Share — How do I drive sales and gain market share faster than my competitors?
- Brand Hygiene — How do I optimize search, product discovery, and reach for all my SKUs?
OPTIMIZE MARKETING SPEND
- Ad-spend Attribution — What marketplaces are delivering the maximum ‘clicks to revenue’?
- Purchase Signals — Are my ads targeted on purchase signals or on guesstimates?
DEMYSTIFY DATA COMPLEXITIES
- Enable Quick Decisions — Do I have visibility on all dimensions and objectives?
- Expedite Data Semantics — How quickly can I glean insights from new data sources?
- Solve the ‘Alt-Tab’ Environment — Does my analysis exist in an ‘alt-tab’ environment? Or within a single product?
These are just a few data points that drive action within an effective and profitable eCommerce strategy. CPG brands that would like to make lasting inroads to consumers’ online shopping habits will need to deliver compelling value to buyers continuously. To do this, they will need to expertly navigate a complex and dynamic set of parameters to shine through at every level of the buyer’s journey – from the first appearance on the buyer’s horizon to becoming their first and last choice, always ensuring that the numbers match across buying price to experienced value.
Optimizing your digital marketplace strategy for the end-to-end buyer journey in an amorphous market landscape is the only way to stay ahead of the competition, establish category leadership, and increase revenue on a sustained basis.