Although the economy as a whole is suffering due to the pandemic, major hardware and home center retailers have seen a significant jump in online sales due to the rise in consumer shopping from home. Here are some tips to help you maximize the visibility as well as sales conversion of your products in online channels.
Retailers such as Lowe’s and Ace Hardware have seen enormous increases of 80% and 580% in online sales, respectively, since the advent of the pandemic. Though online sales still account for a relatively small portion of their overall revenue, there is no doubt that shoppers’ reliance on “non-contact” forms of shopping will continue to grow.
Improving the online shopping experience is critical to the future success of retailers and the brands that fill their “digital shelves.” The quality of these virtual displays must be monitored, enhanced and updated continuously to ensure an optimal shopping experience that increases the chance of closing the sale.
Retailers rely on their suppliers to provide assets to fortify their online storefronts and maximize their ecommerce efforts. Suppliers must be responsive to these demands and agile enough to provide a variety of quality digital assets on short notice.
Online Merchandising Content Checklist
Use our checklist to optimize your product pages for major online retailers.
- A+ (Enhanced) Content – If the buyer approves it, definitely take advantage of the templated content that many websites feature for popular sellers. Amazon, Lowe’s, Home Depot and other retailers offer this ability for you to expand on your content with larger photos and additional copy to punch up your product story. That content typically appears beneath the retailer’s feature text, noted as “From the Manufacturer.” It’s one area that you can control as long as you follow the retailer’s basic formatting. A+ templates are responsively designed, so be sure to account for various digital formats.
A+ content appears “below the fold,” but Amazon says that on average it increases page views by 200% and sales by 7%.
- Product photography – Use professional product photography shot from multiple angles with and without accessories, outlined on a white background.
- Packaging photography – Some end customers like to see the actual product packaging to more closely replicate the in-store shopping experience. Unless your product is shipped without packaging, as in the case of the Amazon Certified Frustration-Free Packaging Program, have photos of the packaging available. Provide front and back views that can be enlarged to read important product selection information.
- Lifestyle photography – Include shots of products in active, real-world situations featuring individuals that represent the appropriate target audience to provide important visual reference to the shopper.
- Demonstration and/or installation videos – Consumers love video to assist with shopping, assembly and installation. And as a result, so do retailers. Not providing a video is usually a lost opportunity. Note that videos can be long or short, and don’t necessarily need to be fancy in order to give shoppers confidence in their buying decisions.
- Rich copy content – Write detailed copy that provides compelling, useful information in the style of that particular retailer. Rich content with choice keywords will assist in search engine optimization and drive more traffic to your product web pages.
- Installation manuals (PDFs) – Definitely include downloadable versions of your product’s owners manual to answer questions about how the products are assembled, installed, operated, maintained, etc.
- Product literature (PDFs) – Electronic versions of product brochures or line cards can be particularly important for reference for shoppers who may not be ready to buy immediately. The literature might also spotlight key information such as testimonials that may not be permitted in other content.
- Project checklists – Lists of tools needed for your project or other planning advice can be very helpful in closing the sale and improving the user’s experience.
Companies that anticipate retail buyer demands and work proactively to generate quality content can stay one step ahead of other brands and show true category leadership. These are the companies that will earn the trust of the buyers and grow their shelf space – both online and in-store.
5 Strategies for Program Optimization
Here are some tips for maximizing the performance of your Online Content Enrichment program and improving your relationship with key retailers:
- Review your program regularly. Ask yourself: are all product, packaging and collateral updates accurately reflected on the retailer’s website? The goal is to detect any errors or areas for improvement before the buyer or webmaster does. Accurately matching what you state with what you deliver is always important, of course. For online sales, it can make a particular difference in the reviews you receive.
- Know the retailer’s online merchandising standards. Digital assets delivered in the style, format and file type that each retailer prefers will streamline the process and earn you points with the buyer. And it will result in a more timely posting of your products.
- Always include video. Not always required but almost always preferred, videos assist in the shopper’s decision-making and installation process. Video helps convert sales in the absence of in-store engagement. In many online channels, having video content can also improve the search ranking of your products vs competition on the site.
- Study your competition’s online content. How are their products represented on retailer websites? How does the quality of their visual and copy content compare? How does their ranking in category searches compare? Devise a strategy to address any discrepancies in quality or ranking. Then develop messaging that quickly emphasizes the key reasons to choose your products over others.
- Work ahead. Don’t wait for your products to be on the shelves. Your first opportunity with a retail chain may in fact be online-only sales. Further, the products may also be available nationally or even globally on the retailer’s website, and only regionally in-store. In all of your ongoing work with the merchant, be sure to show how you will feature your products online and ultimately how you are committed to helping the retailer improve sales and market share in your category. Bring examples of educational content and anything else that will engage online shoppers.
Video content can improve search ranking of your products vs. the competition on a retailer’s website.
How We Can Help
Whether you use a “product experience management” (PXM) tool or not, Heinzeroth can assist with content management strategy and content development to improve your presence on major retailers' online stores. Our extensive experience in the hardware/home center retail channel combined with our in-house photography, video production and copywriting services, make us a go-to resource for online and in-store merchandising solutions.