Best-in-class e-comm content on the digital shelf

ipad, tablet, onlineThe almost limitless space provided by the ‘digital shelf’ offers shoppers much more choice, as well as providing a level playing pitch for all manufacturers.

The flip side to this means differentiating a brand from another becomes much more challenging.

Optimised product content is a key enabler to ranking highly on search and opening the door to brand exploration. However the impact extends further than e-commerce platforms. Recent research by IRI, shows that two in three Australians learn about new products online before purchasing.

This indicates that there is a blurring of lines across channels meaning that e-content’s impact extends to bricks-and-mortar too. This trend even extends to the traditionally bricks-and-mortar channel, grocery, where one in two search online for product information before grocery shopping.

As a result, building best-in-class, search-optimised content that resonates with the shopper and provides a frictionless online shopping environment, needs to become central to any omnichannel strategy.

There are five key elements that every best-in-class content needs to include:

  • Titles and bullet points
  • Product Description
  • Enhanced Marketing Content
  • Images
  • Reviews

Titles and bullet points

Titles are usually indexed by search algorithms and are key to enticing customers. Best-in-class titles possess: Brand, product line, material or key feature product type, colour, size, packaging/quantity.

While it may be tempting to stuff keywords into your titles and use caps, don’t!

Keep it short and sweet, with titles having fewer than 200 characters. Additional backend/hidden key search terms can also be used to drive a product’s “findability”. Within this master list of words, include attributes, synonyms and common misspellings.

Bullets are also an impactful component of content, helping to direct shoppers and highlighting key features and benefits of a product. The most effective web pages make online shopping, a frictionless experience, and part of this, is ensuring the content is easily digestible and effective.

Finding this sweet spot is key, which means providing at least three but no more than five bullet points, each with no more than 150 characters.

Product Description

While product description does not directly impact ranking, it is indexed and so its role cannot be underestimated. Well-written copy with a strong call to action can enhance shopper engagement and in turn have an effect on conversions.

This part of the page’s real estate is an opportunity to tell a bit about your product, while throwing in some valuable keywords you want indexed. At this point in the shopper journey, the shopper is establishing if the product meets their needs.

When considering what to include in the description, answer these questions: What does your shopper want to feel, touch, and think? How will their lifestyles be enhanced by your product?

Enhanced marketing content

Enhanced marketing content is the extra space below the fold on the retailer site (the fold being the space of a webpage where the viewer must scroll down to see).

This section of a page is important and matters in conversion, as it ultimately allows manufacturers to showcase the unique proposition of their products, driving SEO and engagement.

This content can include additional nutritional content and may use enhanced material messaging for such features as “sustainability”, “social responsibility”, as well as multiple engaging images and videos. This space allows for truly rich content, but still needs to be focused, compelling and on point. This is an opportunity to really push the overarching brand message, address shoppers’ purchase barriers and drive it home.


High quality images engage more senses and provide a level of familiarity.

Remember in the absence of the tactile environment of instore, consumers need to find a way to engage with your brand enough to remove any barriers to purchase.

This begins even when searching for the product. Hero images need to stand out from their competitors on the search results page.

As some of these pages can include over fifty products, review what image will stand out on this page to entice the consumer to click on the product, particularly when there are a number of sellers of a product on the one e-tailer site.

Once on the product page, consumers need multiple images that clearly demonstrate the key features of the product. One way of doing this is showing the contents of packaging. This is done through images showing the contents pouring out of the bottle for example, removing the ambiguity of what is inside. In addition to this, with one in two searching for product information while shopping on mobile devices, pages need to be optimised for any device ensuring they have the same impact.


The amount of shoppers writing reviews online about product experience has grown year-on-year, where according to IRI, 36 per cent of Australian shoppers are now writing reviews.

When looking at the more digitally inclined, this number doubles to 70 per cent. While brands can benefit from free marketing through them, they can confirm a shopper’s impression or expectation, whether good or bad providing social proof of a product’s efficacy.

They also do however impact search algorithms, improving visibility on the digital shelf.

Manufacturers can encourage reviews by including an email feedback sequence to buyers, engaging with followers on social media or directing consumers on brand’s website pages to e-tailer sites to leave honest and unbiased feedback.

Effective e-content matters. Its ability to drive conversion online and impact performance is evident through research done by Clavis Insights based on clients across the globe.

Products with at least 350 characters or 50 words in additional description have 85 per cent higher sales than those that do not.

In addition to this, the omnichannel environment means channels have become blurred. Optimised content resonates beyond the e-commerce channel itself. Trends show that shoppers don’t differentiate their brand experiences by channel. Thus, a positive e-commerce experience will translate to other marketing and merchandising efforts, meaning investment in this area reaps rewards elsewhere.

By Ruth Butler, e-commerce development partner, IRI.

Company Description: IRI in association with Clavis Insights can help manufacturers to monitor, manage and track brands’ digital shelf presence to drive sales both offline and online, to protect brand equity across the channel as well as to provide standardisation and operational efficiency to organisation’s approach to online space.

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