Learn how to monitor marketplace performance, conduct competitor research, and track SEO rankings. Find the right digital shelf software for your eCommerce business.
Imagine a person that’s going out to buy milk. First, they’ll consider where they’re going to buy it, depending on variables like price, distance, and product availability.
Then they’ll walk into that store and go through the aisles looking for that product. In the process, they may even come across something else they like, even though they weren’t intending to buy it. Once they reach the section that displays milk, they’ll compare all the options available before choosing the one that’s best for them. Maybe it’s cheaper, or bigger, or has more attractive packaging.
Finally they take these products to the checkout, where they’ll run into other products and pay for what they’ve chosen, using one of the available payment methods.
Now think: doesn’t this happen too on the online realm? Don’t we run Google searches to find the best online store to make our purchase, compare products, product content, and prices on different platforms, get carried away with good product pictures?
The answer is yes, and that’s why the Digital Shelf Manager position that’s started to surge in various online retailers makes total sense. Just like in brick-and-mortar stores, there’s a need for someone—or even a whole team—to take care of how customers will find the products and product data they’re looking for.
In this article, we’ll take a look at different tasks that make up digital shelf management and how we can use screenshots to automate the process. At the end, we’ll dive into other digital shelf analytics software and what you need to take into account when analyzing your options.
Digital shelf management is not limited to a brand’s own store—a lot of retailers have found success in online marketplaces. Monitoring your products’ performance on sites like Amazon can be tricky, as not all of them offer a system to look at historical data.
If that’s the case for you, then you can rely on automated screenshots. Capture your product listing and position at the frequency you need, and always have them at hand if you need to go back and analyze the evolution.
With Stillio, you can even monitor performance worldwide: customize the location of your screenshots with GEO IP locations.
Keeping an eye on competitor activity is always crucial, but when talking about retail and online shopping, competition is fierce. Prices, offers, new products, and marketing efforts are all things that someone responsible for digital shelves must be monitoring.
The first step of the process is knowing who your competitors are. You can’t analyze every single retailer on the web, right?
Once that’s defined, you can get to work. Browse through your competitor’s online stores and look at their style, how they’re organized, what products they’re highlighting. Pay attention at how they differ from your brand and what their strengths and weaknesses are.
Some of these aspects are long term, and you can check every once in a while. But prices, offers, and new products are more dynamic, and you need a constant eye hovering over their moves. Screenshots can do that for you!
Similar to SERP tracking, take the URLs of the competitor pages you want to monitor and select a capture interval. That way, you’ll be able to look into competitor activity without manually browsing through their site every time. Moreover, you can set email notifications to remind you when screenshots are ready for your review and analysis.
And why stop at their stores? You can also monitor their social media activity, search engine rankings, and other online media presences.
Digital shelf management starts off the shelf. As mentioned before, before going into the store, users will look at their options and choose where to shop. In the online world, one of the main places users will perform this task is a search engine.
Therefore, Digital Shelf Managers will have to keep their SEO in check. Without efforts to drive users to the store, all your hard work on the digital shelf optimization will go to waste.
SEO for ecommerce stores, as for every industry, includes on-page and off-page tasks. And besides working on tactics, SEO monitoring should also be a priority: this means reviewing your performance on search engines, find areas of improvement and opportunities for better rankings.
Luckily, there are lots of tools on the market to track rankings, keywords, and backlinks. You can complement any of these with automated screenshots of your SERPs: this way, you’re not only getting the exact position and data from the SEO tool, but also what your snippets look like on the results page, as well as those of your competitors.
To track SERPs on Stillio, just choose the keywords you want to track, take those URLs and set their captures at the interval you need. Full-page length screenshots will then be saved into your account to analyze and share at any time. You can also use tags to organize them and keep everything handy, like grouping keyword searches by product line.
Ecommerces are dynamic and fast-changing, and they have to be able to adapt quickly to their audience and to the rest of the market. Category managers that run these stores must be able to track real time data like user acquisition, stock availability, and reviews in order to respond in time and accordingly.
With this in mind, after reviewing how automated screenshots can help manage the digital shelf, let’s dive into other features you should be looking for when deciding on your digital shelf software.
The ideal tool has all your digital shelf management needs in one place. Luckily there are many options on the market you can choose from, but the most important thing is to pay attention to the basics.
We like thinking of the key aspects of digital shelf software as a trident consisting of stock, pricing, and reviews.
First of all, you need to be able to have a full view of your available stock. This means not only being able to easily see what your availability looks like on each retailer, but also choosing a digital shelf solution that allows integrations with the marketplaces you use. This way, you’ll be able to act timely on out-of-stocks, which is specially helpful during sales or special promotions.
Pricing is also a fundamental aspect of the ecommerce business. Similar to stock management, comparing your products’ prices across all sales points should be easy and accessible. In addition, you could have insight into your competitors’ prices and averages for each product category. Lastly, beyond beating your competition with the best prices, pricing monitoring allows you to ensure compliance with your MSRP and MAP policies.
The third key aspect of digital shelf management happens after the purchase, and that is review and rating tracking. How are consumers rating our product? What are they saying about it? Ratings can affect your position on marketplaces, as well as highly influence potential customers on their next purchase. With digital shelf software that covers this aspect, you can compare your performance to the category average, quickly respond to user queries, and have a 360° view of users’ opinions to adapt your strategy.
After ensuring the category management software you’re looking at covers the basics, you can peek at what other nice-to-haves they have to offer.
For example, it’s very likely that you’re destinating an important part of your budget on online advertising. Some software options allow you to track ad performance in the same space where you look at stock and prices. One of those is CommerceIQ, which can help you oversee your banner positions, whether they’re active, and compare against your competitors’ placements and messaging.
Another interesting feature is text and image monitoring. How do you ensure your product copy is up to date and grammatically correct on all touchpoints without going through each one manually? This can be done through tools like PriceSpider, as well as monitoring images, their position, and whether they’re outdated.
And while all the previous items we mentioned imply looking at data, it’s also important to think about the analytics module of the software you choose. Besides the basics, Webgility provides digital self analytics features that will be crucial for ecommerce reporting and forecasting. This includes sales insights, performance by channel and product, seasonality trends, and business profitability. Digital shelf analytics allow to detect best performing products (both in sales and revenue) and variations over time in order to support business decisions.
Online businesses cannot ignore the digital shelf. Luckily, there are a lot of online tools available that make digital shelf management much easier and efficient. Being able to monitor performance in real time, while complementing with other analysis features, can make or break your business’ success in the online world.