Think your consumers are making buying decisions based strictly on the information in front of them at the time of sale? Think again. Whether making their final purchase in a brick and mortar store or on the internet, there’s a good chance that your consumers are searching online for detailed product information before they commit. In fact, 81 percent of shoppers conduct online research before making a big purchase, according to a study by GE Capital Retail Bank.
Typically, manufacturers rely on retailers to provide information about their products to search engines — including such attributes as color, height and weight, product photos and reviews. But, leaving this job to retailers often results in low-quality or incomplete product data online. When this happens, manufacturers’ products don’t show up in online search results as they should, which means missed sales.
The good news is manufacturers’ role in e-commerce is changing for the better. New platforms let manufacturers take e-commerce tasks in-house, making it easy to directly supply robust product data to search engines. One such platform is the Google Manufacturer Center, which enables manufacturers to upload authoritative and detailed product content, like descriptions, GTINs, product variants, visual content, reviews and user manuals, all of which improves the performance of ads and the overall visual display on Google, Google Shopping and other Google services.
Considering that 60 percent of consumers start product research via search engine, according to the study mentioned above, this is great chance for manufacturers to get their products in front of more potential customers.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of taking your e-commerce strategy in-house:
1. Manage your brand. By providing your own product data to search engines, manufacturers can directly influence how their products are represented in search results. Searches usually yield multiple product results, and shoppers are more likely to choose those with robust product content.
Make your products more marketable to consumers by supplying a wealth of product content that your shoppers can use to make their purchasing decisions. You can also ensure that the imagery, videos and written content associated with a product page meet your brand’s standards and provide a complete and accurate portrayal of your product, enhancing the shoppers’ experience and strengthening your brand’s identity.
2. Reap the benefits of analytics. By supplying your own data, you’ll be privy to analytics reports, which provide valuable insight into how your products are performing online. This reporting shines a light on consumer behavior beyond what can be learned by looking at sales numbers alone.
Analytics show activity throughout the sales cycle, including details about how many shoppers are clicking on your product, the average amount of time spent on your page, how your product is performing against the competition and how its product category is ranking. You can also use these metrics to identify, and then tweak, information in your product listing that is hurting sales.
3. Improve your sales performance. Poor product content can hurt your conversion rate in a number of ways. First, if product data is lacking, your item is less likely to populate in a search query. Or, if consumers do find your product, but descriptive information is sparse, they may search for a similar product with a more thorough description.
The better your product data, the higher your conversion rates. Manufacturers directly supplying their own rich product data saw conversion rates jump by four to 13 percent, according to data from Google.
If you’re considering taking advantage of this e-commerce opportunity, here are a few things your data should include:
- A short product title with the brand name
- A short description that includes keywords to drive SEO
- Plain language and synonyms (If your name for the product’s color is “clementine,” be sure to also include “orange” somewhere in the description.)
- An enticing marketing description that also includes keywords
- A complete list of the product’s features and benefits (At least four bulleted points)
- All product specs
- Multiple high-resolution photos
- Other supplementary content, such as product reviews, demonstration videos and user manuals
Today’s shopper doesn’t just want detailed product information before purchasing. She demands it. According to research by Google, two in three shoppers cannot find the information needed to make a purchase in-store and 43 percent of them leave frustrated. And, 71 percent of those in-store shoppers who use smartphones for online research say their device has become more important than their in-store experience.
Manufacturers now have the opportunity to provide the product details that consumers are searching for online. If supplying your own data sounds daunting, consider partnering with a data pool (learn more about how to pick one here) who can directly share your product content with platforms like the Google Manufacturer Center.
Don’t rely on retailers to provide the information that determines your business’ bottom line—take your e-commerce destiny into your own hands.
Polly Gleneck is the customer value manager at Edgenet.