Shopping online has been the norm for years, but it is a more recent phenomenon for the consumer packaged goods industry. In fact, e-commerce is exploding and will account for 10 percent of all CPG sales by 2022. The IRI strategy for helping CPG retailers and manufacturers win online is highlighted in the latest Times & Trends report, “Build, Drive and Earn E-commerce Growth for Retail Success."
“More than 76 percent of all shopping trips begin online, regardless of whether the actual purchase is made online or in-store,” said Sam Gagliardi, senior vice president of consumer & shopper marketing for IRI. “Consumers visit e-retailers to seek out products, reviews and money-saving opportunities, so it’s a must for brands to establish a solid presence along their shoppers’ paths to purchase. The IRI E-commerce Reporting Suite helps CPGs build a strong online presence and deliver the right message at the right time, which can help manufacturers grow e-commerce sales by up to 150 percent.”
The first step in tapping into e-commerce growth opportunities is cultivating a strong presence on e-retailers’ sites and at key junctures along the online path to purchase. To build this presence, CPGs need to ensure their brand portfolios meet consumer needs in breadth and depth, as well as product availability. Creating relevant and search-engine-optimized content with good visuals is the key to attracting and engaging shoppers.
“Best-in-class e-tailers follow a very specific approach to building their retail presence,” added Susan Viamari, vice president of Thought Leadership for IRI. “They have visibility all along the path to purchase, so they know how consumers go about their online search — what makes them tick: product attributes, price/value messaging and so forth — and they need to use these insights to optimize their online presence and supporting marketing programs accordingly.”
It is important to include images, product content and customer product reviews in this messaging because these pieces of content are an important tool for allaying some potential purchase inhibitors. Getting e-tail right depends heavily on having a clear and consistent understanding of high-value customers, including not only their digital footprints, but also their paths to purchase in the brick-and-mortar world.
Consumers swim through a wave of information on a daily basis, so being in the right place at the right time is no easy task. To break through, marketing stories must be relevant and current at any given point in time. And remember, consumers will not go looking for messages; these messages must be where the consumer is along his or her shopping journey.
By knowing how shoppers travel to sites—where they go, which pages they visit, how long they spend there—in addition to where they actually purchase CPG products, marketers can invest their e-commerce dollars wisely. And by paying close attention to which items are competing, which items are winning and what factors are influencing shoppers, CPGs can hone their marketing messages and boost impact by developing strong calls to action across the digital channel, thereby shortening the customers’ paths to purchase.
A large CPG manufacturer wanted to propel its e-commerce growth by understanding the performance of its own brand and how its consumers were interacting with its categories in a newly emerging online space. Since the manufacturer needed specific tactics to drive growth, it leveraged the IRI E-commerce Reporting Suite and analytic expertise for insights, including:
- Dollar sales and share positions over a three-year period for own and competitor brands
- Comprehensive understanding of digital paths shoppers took when purchasing its brand products as well as motivators behind online conversion
- Strategic and tactical recommendations to build out its e-commerce teams, develop go-to-market strategy and optimize online presence across multiple retailers
The approach helped the manufacturer monitor its competitors, prioritize its biggest opportunities, understand consumer perceptions about its site and create a comprehensive strategy for both online and in-store sales growth. Ultimately, the manufacturer unlocked e-commerce growth of nearly 150 percent.
“E-tail is a phenomenal growth lever, and CPGs are beginning to realize its potential as more than just another retail channel,” added Viamari. “E-tail space has become a powerful marketing channel as well. CPGs must evolve to compete and view e-commerce not only as a sales channel, but also as a critical awareness driver and behavior influencer.”