(For now, I am only interested in shopper marketing as it pertains to ecommerce and digital, not B&M or even omnichannel.)
Shopper marketing is a relatively new idea in the CPG world. The idea is that a manufacturer representative will use her knowledge of the product to help a retailer optimize their site towards increasing sales of that product. In other words, if I am a shopping marketer at Welch’s assigned to walmart.com I would try to increase Welch’s sales on Walmart.com.
That’s the extent of it.
You may be asking “Isn’t that the retailer’s job?” Well yes and no. A retailer wants to sell more jelly, but he doesn’t care if it is Welch’s or Smucker’s jelly unless Welch’s is the highest margin product in that category or Welch’s inventory is getting out of hand. So a retailer wants to sell more jelly, but not necessarily your jelly.
A shopping marketer works with (or without) a retailer to increase sales at that retailer. The question is-How do we do this? There is a lot written stating that is beneficial for manufacturers to do this, but not a lot of practical advice. So I will provide some advice on this here blog.
Shopper Marketing Tactics
The best techniques are methods that we can use without the retailers knowledge. (Again-this is web only). It is not that we are trying to be devious; the reason is that I don’t want to have to go plead with Wal-Mart to make the changes that I want and/or negotiate terms for every change. I want what I want now. If I can get this, that is best! Let’s take a look at what that my look like:
It turns out Smucker’s is killing it. We have a lot of work to do.
When I say Smucker’s is killing it, I am not looking at sales numbers, so how do I know Smucker’s is winning? Because I know the way that online merchandisers think and how merchandising algorithms work. The “best” products get put at the top UNLESS retailers are trying to get rid of excess stock. Smucker’s has the top 10 spots…it is winning. I don’t need to request sales numbers. (Though maybe walmart provides them. I am not sure).
Our Welch’s Strawberry is in about spot 10. In spot 9 is Smucker’s strawberry. Let’s see what we would have to do to get the Welch’s above the Smucker’s. That is, what can I do on my end without even talking to Wal-Mart to increase sales.
Why is the Smucker’s strawberry above the Welch’s strawberry? It is a culmination of things. Let’s take a look at them:
1) The total price for Smucker’s is lower but the price per/unit for Welch’s is better. I don’t think it is the price. Next.
2) Smucker’s has double the reviews. That is an issue. Whether we can do anything about this is another issue 😉
3) The Smucker’s product has the word “jelly” in the product title. Welch’s says “spread”. This is a search for jelly! Advantage Smucker’s. We could change this in our feed.
4) There may be another issue-I’d just have to ask my team. If Smucker’s is stocked by Wal-Mart but Welch’s is third party, I am in trouble. Most companies will try to get rid of what they stock first. If I had to increase sales of Welch jelly on Wal-Mart I’d tell someone to sign a contract with Wal-Mart getting inventory in their warehouse or we might have just hit a wall. This is not the case here, but for Amazon or Newegg it might be.
Let’s Compare the Two Product Pages: *all pics click-able*
1) Note the URLs-The come from the product titles. So again, the word “jelly” gets left off another field in our product. We need to be more careful on product titles.
2) Not shown- Smucker’s seems to import reviews of their product from their own site…that is bound to increase reviews. We could do this.
3) The Smucker’s packaging is nicer. This isn’t really immediately fixable, but the packaging makes it look better. One of the ranking metrics is probably click through rate. So we should make cuter packaging.
4) Inventory levels- Ours could be low in stock..if we are using a feed I would know if this the case. Also, Wal-Mart may favor brands that offer more variety..we could try to offer more variety.
5) I could also link-build to my product. I haven’t heard much about this, but it would increase sales.
So let’s review the “free” tactics we have at our disposal: Product title optimization, changing price-(mostly if we are a third party provider), change picture/packaging, increase reviews, use seo e.g. use jelly in product copy, play with assortment. That is a pretty good about of tactics to use without interacting with the retailer. Imagine the results if I hoped on the phone!
The paid tactics don’t involve interacting with anyone at Wal-Mart. I can buy ads on Wal-Mart that advertise my jelly, not Smucker’s:
Those circles are ads I can buy. I can write ads on the Smucker’s products that says “did you hear Smucker’s is being recalled for Salmonella, try Welch’s instead.”
Or maybe something like “Welch’s tastes better”. This would increase sales of Welch’s on Walmart.com which is the goal of the shopping marketer.
In conclusion, manufacturers should think about the tactics an internet retailer uses every day to increase sales. Then use those on your product. The less you involve a retailer, the faster you can move. If you have the highest margin product in your category look for the retailer to be more likely to work with you that if you are a discount product.
Exhaust all free methods before trying the paid methods so as to achieve the best ROI. If you have a huge budget use the paid methods first so you can see results faster. It is possible that your product just doesn’t belong in that retailer and nothing you do will increase sales. If this is the case why waste a ton of time on it? Fail faster.