Digital Shelf Analytics

How Brands are Leveraging Digital Shelf Analytics to Grow E-Commerce Sales and Protect Their Brand Image

Manufacturers are determined to show their products to the best effect wherever they appear on the web. But in a world with more sales channels than ever, is this one factor we just have to let go of? Not at all! And the answer lies in a digital shelf analytics solution.

The Mission: Optimal, Brand-Compliant Product Presentation Across All Digital Channels

The competition for online customers starts anew every single day. And here the little things really do matter, because competitors are only ever a click away. It makes sense, then, that manufacturers aren’t prepared to leave product presentation to chance, or the sales channels alone.

Brands want to make sure their products are perfectly placed on the digital shelf – across all digital touchpoints. To do so, they need to focus on the following, to name just a few:

  • Products are online and available everywhere insofar as possible.
  • Product content is (grammatically) correct and answers any relevant questions (product title, brand name, descriptions); structured product attributes as well as appropriate and high-quality images and other media are also available.
  • Product prices and information on sales promotions are up to date and correct.
  • The overall product presentation is high quality and complies with brand guidelines.
  • Products are placed in all relevant positions in retailer stores and marketplaces and rank highly for relevant keywords in store/search engine/comparison portal results lists (organic and paid).
  • Sales campaigns apply to as many channels as possible and advertising cost subsidies are targeted.
  • Products receive positive customer reviews and ratings.
  • Sales prices are competitive while still in keeping with the internal pricing strategy and brand image.
  • The product range is better than any competitor’s across the board – or at least on par!

As such, brands pursue the following goals:

  • Ensure product availability.
  • Increase conversions and sales, optimize margins.
  • Maintain and protect brand image.
  • Improve customer satisfaction and experience.
  • Reduce the number of returns.
  • Boost competitive position.

The Challenge: Too Much Work for Too Little Data

For brands to reach their target groups, they need a presence on as many channels as possible. But when that’s your job, it can be tricky to keep track of your digital shelf. Common difficulties include:

  • Too many sales channels leading to loss of control: Your own store (D2C), retailer stores, marketplaces, price comparison portals, product search engines… The number of online touchpoints is on the rise, especially in international business. As a result, brands lose control over the listing and presentation of their products.
  • High frequency of changes: Offers and prices change daily, at least! Even positioning is dynamic. Add to that the flood of new customer reviews and new competitors entering the market.

Let’s get real: keeping an eye on all channels and products manually, not to mention on the competition, is impossible. All e-commerce managers can do is take random samples, surfing through individual stores daily, checking on content and prices as well as organic and sponsored search engine rankings and poring over the results in endless Excel spreadsheets.

But this is not an effective approach and certainly fails to do justice to the complexity of the market, with key information easily overlooked. Plus, it creates unnecessary costs and managers waste their time maintaining tables when they could be optimizing measures. Response times are slow and decision-making is grounded in incomplete data.

The Risks of Poor Digital Shelf Management

The dangers involved in monitoring the digital shelf manually, and therefore not fully, are serious:

  • Low conversions.
  • High number of returns.
  • Uncompetitive pricing.
  • Poor rankings.
  • Damage to image because of poor product content or incorrect pricing policy.
  • Inefficient use of advertising budgets.
  • Important developments and trends are missed or recognized too late.
  • Customer satisfaction and experience suffer.
  • Lack of insight into competitors’ ranges and strategies leading to competitive disadvantage.

The Solution: Digital Shelf Analytics to Keep Data Comprehensive and Up to Date

Opting for a solution for digital shelf analytics (DSA) frees e-commerce managers from collecting and analyzing the data themselves. The software relies on a web crawler to search marketplaces, stores and portals and collect relevant data on products and positioning. This data is then clearly prepped in dashboards and used for in-depth analysis. The result? Rapid decision-making or even automated actions. Plus, the solution actively signals where any urgent action is required.

Investing in digital shelf analytics solutions and replacing manual data collection allows companies to cut their annual costs by 30% by 2026.
– Gartner (2022), “Market Guide for Digital Shelf Analytics”

For example, digital shelf analytics can provide answers to the following questions in just a few clicks:

  • Where does content fail to live up to ideas or brand guidelines (misspelled brand or product names, outdated images, incorrect or missing product data)?
  • Which retailers aren’t advertising the latest sales promotion or are undercutting the minimum advertised price (MAP)?
  • How has the actual selling price for a product developed?
  • Which products haven’t gone online/been listed or aren’t available (out of stock)?
  • Where is there a need for SEO or advertising measures to improve rankings?

The solution also offers advanced AI-powered analytics, including:

  • Review analyses: How many reviews are there? What do customers think about the products and how do comparable competitor products perform? Are there reasons behind poor sales figures and high return rates or approaches for improvement?
  • Bestseller analyses: What product trends are developing in the market?
  • Competitor comparisons: Where is the competition better at positioning and presenting their products (prices, rankings, content, etc.)?
  • Attribute comparisons: How does your product range differ from the competition?
  • Product portfolio analysis: Which products do competitors offer and where are there gaps in your portfolio?

Managers can be notified should an event crop up that requires action. For instance:

  • A product isn’t on display or is no longer available (out of stock).
  • A product has fallen out of the top 10 in search results or lost the Amazon Buy Box.
  • The average rating for a product has dropped below 4 stars.
  • A retailer is excessively discounting a product.
  • Incorrect content has been published.
Our Digital Shelf Analytics Software

MYSTERY SHOPPER keeps an eye on your digital shelf. On all channels, whether large marketplaces or individually connected online stores. Up to date, every hour of the day. With automated competitor product recognition thanks to AI and machine learning.

The Result: Manage and Optimize E-Commerce Activities with Impact

It still falls to a manufacturer’s e-commerce manager to take tangible steps to optimize the digital shelf. But digital shelf analytics gives them the reliable data basis and time they need, with up-to-date data from all channels packaged ready for decision-making on a daily basis.

Integration into a product information system makes the task even easier, creating a closed data loop: from creating the offer to publication on the sales channels and feedback via DSA. Then in future, further content optimization measures can be automated too, as is already an option when it comes to price optimization. With our MARGIN MAXIMIZER dynamic pricing tool, you automatically achieve the best possible price for your products wherever they are, making sure you stay ahead of the competition.

This frees you up to devote all your energy to optimizing your product portfolio and presentation across all digital channels. Small but regular measures will quickly rack up – and higher sales, lower costs, satisfied and loyal customers and a stronger brand image all add up to a better standing in the competition!

A woman holds a tablet with a dashboard of XPLN's MYSTERY SHOPPER software solution
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