Nowadays, we often talk about the digital shelf, which can mean two things:
On the one hand, shelves for physical stores and warehouses equipped with technology capable of 'reading' the products on them and keeping track of stock and activity in real time. On the other hand, the digital shelf is the set of all digital channels through which a user can interact with products.
This is the one that will surely interest you if you have come this far. Let's take a look at its importance today for marketers and brands that want to implement a successful digital strategy for their products or services.
What is the Digital Shelf?
It’s comprised of all the online touch points a customer uses to discover, research, consult and purchase any product or service.
Today, most manufacturers and retailers don’t showcase their products in one place, but are aware of the importance of distributing and promoting them in more channels. It’s not about using as many as possible, but rather those most useful for your regular buyers, be it an online store, marketplaces like Amazon or Google Manufacturer, social media sites with integrated native shopping, like Instagram, specialized platforms for B2B suppliers...
The catalog of digital shelf channels is very broad, as well as the possibilities of combining them to create the best omnichannel strategy for a company. This complicates two aspects:
- Product content management, which must be shared and kept up to date on more channels
- Tracking and analysis of the purchase journey, as it ceases to be linear and becomes a set of diverse and personalized steps based on each customer's preference.
Businesses that adopt an omnichannel strategy and, therefore, develop a digital shelf where their products are present in many channels, achieve 4 times better results than sellers that focus on a single channel.
It is becoming increasingly common for purchasing processes to combine several digital channels both in the consultation and in the acquisition and receipt of the order, even adding an in-store stage or a physical point of sale. In short, the digital shelf promotes very different shopping experiences, and the main responsibility of brands and marketers is to make it great for all customers, whatever digital shelf channels they use.
At this point, both product content, which is the main point of contact with customers and must always be accurate, complete and up-to-date across all channels, and automation systems that facilitate the enormous task of managing product data in a complex digital shelf play a key role.
The importance of automation to manage your Digital Shelf
Retailers and brands find the need for automation software in the following areas to effectively manage their digital shelf:
- Order confirmation
- Welcome and registration of new customers
- Reactivation of accounts and customers
- Communication with customers
- Receiving and reviewing product information
- Correction and update of product data
- Export of product information to multiple channels
- Connection of product data with other programs (editing, CMS)
- Management of accounts and receipts
- Updating stock and inventory levels
- Visits, inquiries and purchase activity in all channels
- Attention to users' questions and queries during and outside normal business hours
With the right software support, brands can build the digital shelf strategy they prefer and take full control over it and its three main weaknesses:
- An attractive user experience throughout.
- Easy access to product information for customers, retailers and distributors.
- Agility in accommodating actions and strategies to changes in the market, demand and stock levels.
The challenges of selling on the Digital Shelf
Users want to consult and buy more products in digital channels, among the main reasons, because they streamline the process, give access to more options to compare product features and prices, and they favor immediacy over traveling to a physical store.
However, there are several drawbacks to online shopping that all brands and retailers designing the perfect digital shelf strategy should be aware of:
- Long waiting times to receive the order
- Inability to see the actual product
- High shipping costs
- Shortage of online payment method options
- Difficulty and cost of returns and exchanges
- Distrust when providing payment data
- Issues with stock
- Incorrect or outdated product data
On this last point, it is fundamental for the digital shelf strategy to have PIM (Product Information Management) software that automates and centralizes product information, so that receiving, editing, updating and exporting it is as easy as doing it in a few clicks and from a single shared place, accessible to any user to whom permission is granted.
The main obstacle encountered by businesses that want to build or improve their presence on the digital shelf is product information that is scattered and outdated across different teams, systems and even countries. A PIM platform becomes the reference point for real-time collaborative work, where everyone has access to the same up-to-date version of product content, enhancing the shopping experience and brand image across all channels.
With a PIM system, your digital shelf gains:
- Better organization of work among different teams.
- Enriched product content that is more attractive compared to the competition.
- Accurate, complete and up-to-date product data across all channels.
- Information on the quality and success of your products, which is key to making better business decisions.
- Faster product launches in any market.
- Immediate resolution of product data errors.
- Personalized syndication of product content for any channel.
Do you want to add all of these advantages to your digital shelf, and more? Try Sales Layer's PIM for free right here, or book a free meeting with a specialist to learn about your business problems and needs. They can advise you on the best way to address them with the right technology.