The way we shop is changing profoundly, and this is transforming the way brands communicate with consumers. The three moments of sale – getting noticed and chosen in-store, engendering loyalty and recommendation in-use, and then reinforcing that advocacy post-use – still exist, but they are changing. Brands need to recognize this and adapt accordingly.

The first moment has always been about encouraging consumers to stop at your shelf, choose your product and then buy it. In the new world of e-commerce, your brand is suddenly a thumbnail, scrolled up and down at lighting speed. It is a similar challenge – to get noticed in a short space of time and with a lot of noise around you – but it has a new set of rules.

Surviving in the e-commerce world

Getting to grips with these new rules is vital for brands in the digital age. Increasingly, consumers are shopping online. As digital natives gain more and more buying power this trend will only accelerate: Amazon currently has 22% of the online grocery shopping market, and is expected to reach 50% by 2020.

Brand marketers have long recognized that if shoppers are unable to find their product in-store, or their product packaging is unappealing, sales will suffer. The same is true in the digital environment. If you know what you want to buy but you can’t find it, how long will you keep looking for it? How long will you keep punching keywords into search, or scrolling through alternatives before you settle for one of those alternatives? And if you are simply browsing, you will stop on the products that look appealing.

We may keep looking longer for brands we know and trust. We may be more inclined to stop on them even if their digital presence is weak. Other factors come into play here, and there will always be a case for offline brand building activities. But to optimize revenue online it is clear that we need to optimize our digital presence.

Five steps to success

So, how to do this? How to achieve maximum stand-out and selection in the digital shopping world? Here are five steps to success in the first Moment of Sale.

1. Be found with optimized search and browse

Through either your portal, an Excel feed, or an XML Product feed through the APIs, you as a seller can add up to 1000 characters of search terms. This is a good place to add competitors, common search terms, and phrases. Note that Amazon handles misspellings and plurals, and you do not need to include anything already in the title.

Understand the difference between search and browse. Amazon’s search function returns the most relevant products based on the shopper’s history, including sales, reviews, and content that is relevant to the search term. Best sellers will not necessarily be the highest ranked result, and these results will include paid for placements. The browse function on the other hand shows shoppers the best sellers for that category, as well as merchandised placements.

2. Consider paid-for advertising

If you have the budget then paid-for advertising is a great way to attract attention to your products. There are three options. Sponsored Product Ads are pay per click ads that use the search function to display one product, taking you directly to the product detail page.

Headline Banner Ads also rely on search terms, but show up above the search results, and they can include a branded image, a tag line, and three products in the ad. Product Display Ads are ads displayed directly on a detail page, below the buy box.

3. Get your title right

The title is the most heavily weighted search term. A good title in this environment includes the brand name, excites the shopper with descriptive buzz words, and gives clear accurate information on product size and number.

4. Invest in strong copy

Building a brand on Amazon is not easy. Copy and imagery are your two most potent tools for doing it, so make the most of them. Invest resource in creating the strongest copy you can. Make full use of all five bullet points Amazon allows, and then expand on them in your detail copy.

Include engaging information about the product, buzz words, and push your product benefits. Above all else know what your audience wants from the product and emphasize that.

5. Invest in compelling imagery

Images have a direct effect on conversion. For every two images you add, your conversion can increase by 0.25%. For CPG, the ideal is four product shots, two label shots and two lifestyle shots. If you omit to add images Amazon will do it for you, typically adding poor quality images to your product page.

The main image must be on a white background, the product must take up 80% of the image and anything over 1000 pixels turns on zoom. Remember the importance of lifestyle images as well as pack shots, and consider investing in instruction or in-use videos as these are very effective at engaging shoppers.

Distilling the brand

Before you can begin on these practical steps there is a first, crucial design stage. Visual identities designed for the offline world rarely work well digitally. They need to be clarified and distilled down to their essence.

The time has come to abandon the traditional hierarchy of how consumers read label information, from primary to secondary and tertiary information. Online it is only primary information that will come through. So, what is essential? Distill down to this, accentuate the most memorable and strategic visual assets, and your brand will stand out in the digital retail environment.

Look at how PG Tips has done this. Or Dove, or TRESemmé. The brand elements have been carefully dissected, retaining the valuable assets, stripping away anything inessential, and bringing the key elements to the fore, so consumers can quickly understand benefits and make a purchase decision.

Lessons for the offline world

Success in the new digital environment will depend on a brand’s ability firstly to achieve this clarification of visual identity and then secondly to master the practicalities of online retail. We are seeing more and more brands acting on this.

Many of them are discovering that it also drives a reappraisal of their offline pack design, and that they emerge with a clearer, stronger and more effective visual identity wherever they are listed. In conclusion, then, brands that address this topic are winning not only in the new electronic first moment of sale, but also in the traditional first, on-shelf moment of sale.

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