Data is one of the biggest advantages e-commerce brands have over their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Brands that sell products online can glean insights not only from sales figures, but also from impressions, click-through rates, bounce rates, and numerous other data points. They have a constant stream of visitors to help them optimize every image, ad and product description.
However, most brands are just scratching the surface of what they can do with e-commerce data, because they’re focusing exclusively on their own data. Manufacturers that want to maximize sales need to look beyond their own websites and tap into data from retailers that sell their products.
It sounds daunting, but without data from retailers, you’re missing the big picture of how people interact with your products online. As technology continues to evolve, the gap will only grow between brands that leverage the full potential of e-commerce data and those that don’t.
Right now, brands can use data from online retailers to improve their customers’ shopping experience, learn from buying behavior, monitor branding, and optimize their campaigns — all of which help you increase sales.
Following are four advanced tips for using e-commerce data to increase sales.
1. Streamline the Path to Purchase
No matter how good your product page looks on your own website, some consumers prefer buying from their favorite online retailer. Their loyalty to your brand shouldn’t be at odds with perks like these:
- Free two-day shipping
- Hundreds or thousands of verified reviews and ratings
- Rewards programs
- The convenience of buying online and picking up in store (BOPIS)
You can fight to keep people on your own website and risk losing sales, or you can embrace the diversity of the e-commerce ecosystem, and let your visitors decide where and how they want to buy your products.
What happens if someone goes to a retailer’s website, and your product is out of stock? Or the price is higher than what you listed on your website? They’ll probably either decide not to buy, or worse — they’ll buy a competing product.
That’s why more and more manufacturers have begun using software that automatically pulls pricing and stock information from their retail partners in real time, so they can display the data on their product pages. This lets consumers choose to buy your products in the way they prefer, while also ensuring that you don’t send them to a dead end.
By reducing the number of clicks and searches it takes to get to their products, these manufacturers have been capitalizing on people’s intent to buy. There’s less opportunity for their visitors to fall through the cracks or change their minds. Since these brands send people to retailers where they can actually purchase their products, they’re increasing dramatically the number of visitors who become customers.
2. Follow the Entire Customer Journey
Say someone clicks your Google ad or opens your email and clicks through to your product page. After doing some research about your product, say that individual decides to buy it. So the shopper hops over to Walmart.com and… what happens next?
- Does the shopper buy your product?
- Does the shopper ditch your product for a competitor’s?
- What else goes into the shopper’s cart?
- What complementary products does the shopper purchase?
Without data from online retailers, manufacturers can’t be certain how well — or how poorly — their marketing campaigns are doing. All you can see is what happens in the bubble of your own website, even though consumers might be buying from retailers as a result of your campaigns.
Manufacturers can remove the mystery by using tools that pull data from retailers’ websites. These tools allow you to follow a consumer’s path from your marketing assets to your website, to your retail partners, to checkout — so you actually can see how your campaigns are performing. This helps you focus your efforts on the campaigns that give you the biggest return on investment.
Additionally, some tools drive manufacturers’ cart-level data, so you can learn what your customers are buying alongside your products, and how much they’re spending. Are consumers buying your drill with a competitor’s drill bits? Are they buying your home security cameras along with cribs, diapers, and other baby supplies? Insights like these can lead to bundling opportunities or even new product lines, diverting more sales from your competition.
3. Unify Your Brand Across Storefronts
Suppose someone is very interested in your product, but wants to purchase from a retailer to take advantage of a rewards program, or to read reviews. The shopper researches your product for a while on your website and then goes looking for it on Amazon. Or Target. Or wherever. When the shopper reaches those other product pages, the images may be a little different. Or the name is displayed differently. Or the description isn’t quite right.
These might seem like minor discrepancies, but if there’s doubt that a page is displaying the right product, the consumer is going to click somewhere else. No one wants to pay for a knockoff or get stuck with an outdated model. All of a sudden you’ve lost a sale — not because your product wasn’t what the shopper wanted, but because your retail partner didn’t upload the new branding assets you sent a month earlier. Or — oops — you updated your own branding and forgot to send the new assets to your retail partners.
With the sheer number of products you sell and the many online retailers you work with, brand monitoring might sound like an impossible task — but it doesn’t have to be. Again, many brands today leverage data from online retailers to solve this problem and increase sales.
Using advanced technology, manufacturers can see all the copy, images, videos and other assets that appear alongside their products. More importantly, they can aggregate the data and see how well their retail partners are following their current brand guidelines.
By ensuring that your brand and products look and feel consistent wherever they appear, you help relieve any friction created by old images, incorrect copy and other discrepancies.
4. Prioritize Your Highest-Converting Retailers
Obviously, you don’t want to send people to a retailer that is doing a terrible job representing your product online or whose product page simply isn’t converting.
Maybe there are some abysmal reviews on your product page from people who had a bad experience with the retailer, or who objected to things that had nothing to do with your product. Sending shoppers there doesn’t just lose the sale on that page — it dissuades those consumers from considering you elsewhere.
Or maybe a retailer is promoting your competitors’ products on your product page.
On the other hand, some of your retail partners probably are doing an outstanding job. They have stellar reviews and current branding, and they always promote your relevant add-ons. Most importantly, they make sales.
You can use this information to decide which retail partners are worth investing in and promoting — and who you need to drop. If you have a “where to buy” widget on your website, you can elevate the retailers that convert and demote the ones that don’t. This ensures that you have the best shot at converting visitors who hit your product pages — and ultimately, at increasing sales.
Use Data to See the Big Picture
When you sell multiple products with multiple online retailers, the data you collect from your own website can take you only so far. If you can’t see which retailers have your product in stock, which represent your products the best, or if visitors even convert, you’re losing sales.
Conversion optimization platforms are developing new, more robust data solutions every day, and tech-savvy brands are finding more ways to leverage data and increase sales. In the world of e-commerce, the data revolution is far from over.
Great article Anthony! I work for webcrafter.nl myself and we have firsthand seen these changes in how both we and our customers use data. It is incredible to be able to use such AM ounts of data in order to improve the customer’s experience and in the meantime improve conversion rate optimization.