The 5 Most Important Things We Heard About Product Content at Groceryshop 2019

Even though groceries have been sold online for the last two decades, brands continue to struggle with maintaining consistent, accurate product content across all their different online retail partners. With some brands having hundreds or even thousands of SKUs, ensuring every retailer website has reliable, up-to-date information for products can be a daunting and relentless task.

At the same time, consumers are demanding more product information than ever before. Product content has also proven to be a major driver of search visibility and conversion on retailer websites. For these reasons, today’s most forward-looking brands are leveraging product content as a strategic differentiator, embracing the opportunity to provide shoppers with more detailed information and stand out on the digital shelf.

At this year’s Groceryshop conference, the agenda included a full session on this topic titled ‘Leveraging Product Content.’ The panel discussion, which was part of the CPG-Retailer Relationships track, featured the following industry leaders:

The panelists shared many compelling ideas about product content, the most important of which I’ve summarized here.

Product Content Is a Process, Not a Project

This was one of the session’s most important takeaways for brands. Most brands think about product content as a one-time project with a defined end. At the beginning of the discussion, Adrianne del Sol, VP of eCommerce at Danone, shared how she flipped her team’s project-focused mindset into a process-focused one. She discussed the “data-driven flywheel” approach that involves developing product content, launching it, measuring it against expectations, and constantly iterating. Since the flywheel continually feeds itself, this strategy ensures your product content is always operating at peak performance.

Focus on More Than Just Amazon

For most brands, e-commerce efforts are still predominantly focused on Amazon. While Amazon is certainly an e-commerce powerhouse, it is not the only online grocery player, especially for brands operating in consumable categories.

Today, the consumer decides where they want to shop, and that decision is primarily based on a retailer’s fulfillment options. Due to the popularity of click-and-collect and on-demand delivery, the pendulum is starting to swing back towards brick-and-mortar retailers as the most essential channel for grocery brands in terms of e-commerce sales. This means that brands need to invest in creating high-quality product content for websites outside of just Amazon.

A great way for brands to quickly assess the quality of their content on the other major grocery retailers is to spot-check their listings on the Instacart website or mobile app. Unless you’ve worked with Instacart to set a priority source of information for your products, it usually pulls the content for your listings straight from its retail partners. This means that the same SKU may have different content for Kroger than it does for Publix — even though both listings are on the Instacart website.

Using Instacart to compare content across retailers is an easy way to identify inconsistencies and incorrect information. Working with Instacart to designate a priority source of information gives you even more control over the content that appears on your Instacart listings, ensuring your customers have a consistent experience across all of the different retailers.

Product Content Is an Investment

Publishing high-quality product content comes at a cost for brands, but as Ram Rampalli, Head of Catalog Strategy at Walmart, said, “Data is an investment, and we can do great things with data.” He urged brands to focus on providing retailers with as much unique, verifiable information about a product as possible, including copy, images and search attributes.

At Walmart (and other major retailers), this product data helps power many omnichannel customer experiences, such as using a mobile app or website to research and locate products when shopping in stores. For this reason, it’s important for product data to be consistent across all channels, including online and physical stores.

Retailers aren’t the only ones that benefit from brands investing in their product content and data. Due to the various output needs of different retailers, providing product data inputs is extremely time consuming for e-business teams. Establishing a single repository of accurate product information that all retailers can pull from will save brands massive amounts of time in the long run, as retailers begin to automate product data extraction and classification. That being said, “garbage in, garbage out” is one of the biggest risks of automation, meaning it will only be effective if brands invest in robust, accurate product data from the start.

Storytelling Wins Customers

A common thread throughout much of the discussion was how consumers across all generations are looking for more product information than ever before. Today, consumers want to know what a brand stands for, including its purpose, values and attributes, such as sustainability efforts and ingredient sourcing practices.

Luckily for brands, the digital shelf provides an opportunity to educate and engage customers like never before. On most retailer websites, brands have the opportunity to publish diverse media and content that would never fit on typical product packaging or point-of-sale materials.

Even though legacy CPG brands are some of the best storytellers, many of them are failing to take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity to connect with customers. According to Cory Rellas, Co-founder & CEO of Drizly, these brands think that “the legacy of their massive brand coming online will do the work.” However, “they would be better served to think about themselves as a new brand coming online.”

This means using enriched, high-quality product content such as images, videos and other media to tell your brand’s story in a way that resonates with your target customers. If your brand is only supplying simple, text-based descriptions and search attributes for your products, you will struggle to distinguish yourself against the competition in the digital channel.

Don’t Forget to Optimize for Search

While creating product content that appeals to consumers and ultimately drives sales is important, it’s also crucial for brands to optimize that content for maximum search visibility. Much of the commentary about digital shelf merchandising points to it being an endless aisle, but in most cases, it is actually more finite than physical shelves. According to del Sol, that is because about 85% of conversions happen on the first page of search results, and 65% of those conversions happen above the fold. Today, CPG brands must be thinking comprehensively about optimizing product content for search and conversion if they plan to win the digital shelf.

OneSpace Can Help

OneSpace helps CPG brands centralize, optimize and publish product content that wins top position on the digital shelf. By combining e-commerce search data and content optimization tools with software for content storage and syndication, OneSpace’s Product Merchandising Platform helps brands increase organic search visibility and conversions across multiple online retailers at scale. Contact us to see how we can help.

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