Shopping basket with food and laptop with shelf of supermarket
Shopping basket with food and laptop with shelf of supermarket or grocery shop on the screen. Online ordering and delivery food concept. 3d illustration

By Gabe Wight, General Manager, Retail Ecommerce Analytics, at 1WorldSync

Consumers enjoy the ease and convenience of the e-commerce grocery experience. The ability to add frequently purchased brands to their shopping carts or set up auto-subscription services with the click of a button is a dream for customers. But for brands fighting for shelf space? Not so much.

The online shopping experience removes the opportunity for consumers to physically look at and review competing brands — and perhaps choose something new or opt for a more spontaneous pick — before deciding what to buy. Bottom-shelf brands have a harder time finding a point of entry with consumers unlikely to see their products because they’re not shopping in person.

Food and beverage brands can follow these three tips to stand out in a heavily saturated digital market and capture new shoppers.

1. Finding a point of entry

When shoppers subscribe and save or “buy again” from their previous cart, they don’t see the other options on the digital shelf. For brands, getting that first purchase is most important. 

Brands can expand their customer base by capturing individuals exploring a new category. Changes in lifestyle, economic factors, social influences, or the emergence of environmental considerations propel customers into unexplored territories. 

For example, a couple expecting their first child enters a major new product category: baby care, which includes items like diapers and formula. These new parents have likely never purchased these products before and may feel overwhelmed by the array of options. Baby care brands have an opportunity to capture these new parents as first-time buyers.

Brands must understand where shoppers enter new categories and get in front of them to capitalize on what they’re looking for. In stores, brands might create an endcap display or use bright colors on product packaging. But that strategy doesn’t work online.

A focus on occasions and micro-occasions becomes paramount. Brands should dive deeper beyond what’s in shoppers’ carts and relevancy scores. It’s time to understand shoppers on an individual level.

Consider a scenario where a shopper watches their kids play football on Friday nights. Brands can elevate some items that might hold significance in this context — like sports drinks, folding chairs, blankets, snacks, or coolers. By tailoring offerings to these micro-occasions, brands can encourage inspiration purchases online. 

2. Optimizing product listings for search engines

Consumers build trust with brands and products by conducting extensive online research. Nearly 95% of shoppers research multiple items before making an online purchase, with 46% researching two or three products and 34% searching four or five products.

A smart SEO strategy helps brands capture new shoppers during their searches. Brands want to be a part of the top search listings on a retailer’s website to capture sales. 

So, how do brands make it to the top? By using relevant, targeted keywords to optimize product listings for retail sites. Think of keywords as the aisles of e-commerce. The more aisles a product appears in, the greater the potential for sales.

SEO-driven copy plays a vital role in propelling products to the top of common searches and increasing discoverability for customers. However, SEO can’t be a set-it-and-forget-it strategy in the fast-changing digital retail environment. Brands must actively monitor keyword performance and make adjustments to earn sales. What works today may not work tomorrow — or next month. 

E-commerce analytics platforms are an invaluable tool in this ongoing effort. This technology empowers brands to analyze their online SEO performance, providing insights and actionable steps to improve their SEO efforts.

3. Leveraging product data for differentiation

Once shoppers land on a product detail page (PDP), they rely on strong product content, which allows brands to:

  • Engage and educate consumers.
  • Stand out from their competitors.
  • Strengthen brand loyalty.

Product content must be compelling, timely, and high-quality. E-commerce analytics can reveal which content types (videos, 360-degree spin imagery, etc.) resonate better with shoppers, while content quality metrics help brands improve product presentation. 

Quality product content, including descriptions, visuals, customer reviews, and ratings, wins customer trust and influences purchase decisions. In fact, most consumers rank product content over brand recognition when shopping online. 

Reviews also act as a dealbreaker for shoppers. Nearly 40% of customers won’t buy a product with fewer than five reviews. For example, a shopper evaluating two comparable air fryers may select the more expensive model with over 50 positive ratings, even when a cheaper alternative exists. Social proof helps consumers justify their purchasing decisions. 

Brands should actively encourage customers to leave reviews on PDPs, fostering a platform for both new and returning customers to gain insights from others’ experiences. For example, brands can offer discounts or loyalty points to motivate customers to share their opinions. 

While strengthening their PDPs, brands must recognize that not all content quality is considered equal. Each retailer uses a different scorecard to assess content. Retailers might take punitive action against brands falling short of product content standards, leading to those brands appearing farther down the list in search results.

By following these three key strategies, brands can effectively navigate the digital marketplace and capture the attention of new customers. In the crowded online space, understanding shopper behavior, prioritizing relevant keywords, and developing engaging product content is key to unlocking growth and building lasting brand loyalty.

Gabe is responsible for 1WorldSync‘s Retail E-Commerce Analytics solution. He has more than 20 years of retail experience and has spent time in leadership positions where he was responsible for growth, shopper marketing, media, and digital. He was also a manufacturer CMO, responsible for all e-commerce, both owned and through His experience matches what is well documented – that shelf position has the greatest long-term effect on e-commerce sales. Gabe built Retail E-Commerce Analytics (formerly Webáta) to create accessibility to the data that helps form decisions to win that digital shelf position. He joined 1WorldSync upon the acquisition of Webáta in 2023.

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