A connected commerce experience Featured Image

A connected commerce experience

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It is critical for brands to fully understand the impact of strategic digital content decisions and what effect they will have on awareness, sales, consumer experiences and, ultimately, reputation.

The importance of mastering online retailing and an example of one brand that didn’t

To be effective and successful, brands must develop strong strategies that will positively affect all aspects of their content ecosystem. Any missing link can have an adverse effect on sales and the consumer experience. If any brand does have gaps in their eCommerce content, are they aware of it and, more importantly, are they aware how many sales opportunities are being lost as a result?

Thankfully, eBusiness Institute has an extremely effective solution that identifies the problems that need rectifying and provides detailed solutions as to how this can be achieved. We also help your brand generate great product content that’s perfectly attuned to sustainable growth. The answer lies within a Digital Shelf Assessment, which will be looked at in greater detail later on in this article.

The content ecosystem

What exactly is a content ecosystem? It’s more than just products or advertising; it’s the complete route map from brand to consumer via a network of retail touchpoints.

Encompassing everything, your content ecosystem represents who you are and what you stand for, what you can do and what you have to offer. When all the pieces are correct and, just as importantly, linked together correctly, it becomes a powerful process that drives people to your products and increases organic sales leads. However, if you miss out one link along the journey, the chain breaks down and impacts negatively on search engine results and, ultimately, sales.

Getting connected eCommerce wrong

Let’s consider an advertising banner. Will it drive consumers to the product page and generate sales? If the visuals are attractive, it’s well placed with good content and has a strong call to action, then it should generate increased traffic.

However, advertising alone might not generate the trust required to close a sale. This is especially true of some demographic group attitudes towards advertising. People don’t trust adverts on their own as being the reason to buy something. In particular, 79% of Gen Z participants in a recent study said that they “avoid ads whenever they can”[1].

A connected eCommerce experience Barilla Example
Here’s a paid for Barilla banner placed above products belonging to a competitor on the page – Image source: ocado

In our image example above, you can see that Barilla has clearly invested in Retail Digital Media (RDM). Their Paid Retailer Search Ad appears when the word ‘pasta’ is typed into the search box. This strategy can be an effective tool to raise awareness and increase sales and conversion rates. The banner shown here is visually pleasing with a good brand presence, and is well placed above a competitor’s products. But it doesn’t have a particularly strong call to action (CTA), this could have been made more prominent and powerful, so a little of the efficacy is lost. However, there is a more critical, fundamental problem.

The search is for pasta, right? But that is the one word missing from virtually all the Barilla product descriptions and recipes. Therefore, although the Barilla banner ad appears when ‘pasta’ is searched for, Barilla pasta products are overrun by their competitor Garofalo.

In fact, the first Barilla product doesn’t appear until scrolling down to the fourth row of products below the fold, by which time the consumer will have gone past 12 Garofalo products, some with a tempting special offer. This small but crucial error in Barilla’s product content dilutes the intensity of the campaign, loses vital sales, wastes valuable investment and misses an opportunity to own territory above the fold and gives away the advantage to their competitor.

Getting the content ecosystem right for a connected consumer experience

There are several stages to creating a positive content ecosystem. Trying random content promotions in isolation will not deliver sufficient results when compared to planning a cohesive and linked strategic approach. The key to success is a well thought through and executed content plan to deliver a connected commerce experience.

Start with a review of everything online to ensure that the customer will have a great experience whilst accessing content. This is where brands must deliver quality and engaging content. Consumers have never had so many options about how and where to shop, and the quality and breadth of content should be a huge driver of conversion. If your brand isn’t keeping up with consumer expectations, then you are going to lose business to competitors that are.

Keep the brand quality consistent. All that awesome and informative content will work for you. Get it right from the start and repeat, repeat, repeat.

Distribute your content where it’s going to engage the most with your target audience. Use data to understand the buying patterns and habits of your customers. Who are they, where are they shopping, when and why?

A connected eCommerce experience - Instagram Consumer Goods Engagement
Best times to engage with your customers on Instagram – Image source: digitalmarketingcommunity.com

Now it’s time to scale up the content and iterate. Think about management, masterisation and global production of your content. Reach out to new customers and new markets. Engage new and existing audiences with a connected commerce experience.

Digital Shelf Assessment

As we have seen, where gaps appear in eCommerce content, there will be a negative effect on sales and perhaps an increase in abandoned shopping carts. The solution is a Digital Shelf Assessment. This is an in-depth review that generates category and market insights, not only giving brands visibility of internal and external factors affecting their sales, but also going further to formulate an effective content plan to engage with retailers and markets.

With over 6 years of experience delivering Digital Shelf Assessments for 329 eRetailers across 35 countries, eBusiness Institute has a market-leading tool that helps to identify strategies that really work. It is this expertise that makes our latest White Paper such a compelling read.

A connected eCommerce experience Example
eBusiness Institute Digital Shelf Assessment Scorecard showing the colour coded scoring system for each attribute within a brand’s basic product content

Our White Paper focuses on the Oral Care market and how a Digital Shelf Assessment is the first step that brands should take when formulating a content strategy. Not only for those who are in the business of selling smiles, this White Paper reveals valuable insights that all brands should take away.

In conclusion

As we’ve seen, there are several potential pitfalls along the way towards successfully creating a content ecosystem. The rewards for getting it right are worth the effort. Engaging with a wide audience and growing sales organically will deliver what retail philosophy might describe as ‘the greatest happiness is the greatest number’[2].

The Barilla example shows that randomly trying one thing and then another in isolation doesn’t work. Linking great content to the wider ecosystem at every stage, will.

Develop the brand quality with great and engaging content, keep it consistent and distribute it where it’s going to have the most impact with the target consumer market. Measure, repeat and measure again until you’re ready to expand by reaching further out into new audiences.

When done correctly, your brand will be reaping fruitful returns while your customer will be delighting in a satisfying connected eCommerce experience.

Next steps to success

eBusiness Institute offers a compelling and practical service aimed at Mastering Online Retailing. We have seen recent growth in eCommerce like never before and, whilst that is great for established eRetailers, it has caught many brands off-guard.

If your brand needs to learn more about creating content that converts, then contact  eBusiness Institute.

eBusiness Institute, helping brands to excel at eCommerce

Read our Oral Care Digital Shelf Assessment White Paper and learn how this excellent and proven tool can help drive sustainable sales growth for your brand.

Download the White Paper »


[1] https://expresswriters.com/building-a-content-ecosystem/

[2] https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/bentham/


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