The pandemic gave e-commerce a boost. Now what?

The pandemic gave e-commerce a boost. Now what?

Alexander Kleijngeld Senior Solution Consultant at MetrixLab

By Alexander Kleijngeld,
Senior Director, Solution Consultancy at MetrixLab

Are you team ‘COVID-19 is over’ or ‘COVID-19 is here to stay’? No matter your perspective on what the future holds, it is probably safe to assume that quarantines and face masks will for the most part be a thing of the past. At least in part we will return to our pre-pandemic behaviors, including the way we shop.

E-commerce (or digital commerce) has seen tremendous growth during the pandemic, and while some of that growth is expected to subside, no one expects a return of e-commerce sales to pre-pandemic levels. But while sales growth in digital channels just sort of happened, now the fight begins! All manufacturers large and small will be looking to consolidate and further grow sales in e-commerce – because where there is growth, there is opportunity!

As a manufacturer, you’ve seen sales generated through e-commerce from your brick and mortar retail partners – supermarkets, drugstores, pharmacies – and from online players skyrocket over the past 2 years. But in-depth information about shopper behavior is hard to come by. Your channel partners are for the most part not overly eager to share who is buying what, when and where. And they are not overly eager to share details on the experiential delights and frustrations from their shoppers either. For the most part, your digital channel partners will not have a clue why shoppers are or are not buying your products. In fact, they are looking at you to figure that out and share the learning back with them!

The pandemic gave e-commerce a boost. Now what?

Growing digital commerce with continuous testing

We recently partnered with a premium shampoo brand manufacturer who discovered that the premium perception conveyed by their brand in stores (elevated through special displays, darker colors, top-row placement on shelf, etc.) wasn’t coming through in online channels. This resulted in a declining share of sales. The brand developed a series of digital creative assets, such as hero images, home-page brand banners, shop-in-shop (branded storefront), video and testimonials (A+ content) to feature on product landing pages and other digital real estate. Developing premium cues in a digital cluttered environment that is not controlled by the brand is by no means easy, but through continuous testing and iteration the brand could develop sales-boosting cues that translate to an e-commerce environment.

Another manufacturer – frozen foods this time – experienced tremendous growth in online home-delivery channels during the pandemic. To further grow in these channels, they first quantified the huge mental barriers that consumers still had when ordering frozen foods for home delivery – basically (and unsurprisingly), shoppers are concerned the product will melt. In addition, there were visibility/findability issues.

The manufacturer embarked on a creative journey to overcome those barriers one-by-one and step-by-step: They developed and launched a virtual shop-in-shop formula in order to overcome visibility and findability issues. They tested over 30 claims and packaging ideas to reassure customers that the product wouldn’t melt on their ability to convert into sales. Finally, they developed new packaging formats and renewed the assortment to make sure all relevant usage occasions and needs were covered. Since the manufacturer could successfully navigate its customers pain points when it came to digital commerce, these changes allowed them to contribute to channel growth.

Two steps for optimizing your e-commerce efforts

So you know you need to invest to ensure that your e-commerce sales and branding efforts are on par with brick and mortar. Now what?

The first step is building granular in-depth understanding of the online shopper journeys. MetrixLab’s E-SHOP ALONG solution features accompanied online shopping trips where a consumer and moderator go shopping together in digital channels, with the moderator observing and probing. This provides granular insights in behaviors, motivations, drivers and barriers in e-commerce, and from there inspiration for the development of online sales conversion and brand prominence tactics.

The second step is to put your creative conversion and brand building tactics and executions to the test. This is where MetrixLab’s E-SHOP COP (conversion optimization program) comes in. The E-SHOP COP solution allows manufacturers to optimize their brand prominence and sales conversion on e-commerce sites. The backbone of an E-SHOP COP project is a copy of one or multiple e-commerce sites. You can use these simulated sites for continuous experimentation towards optimizing the presence and presentation of your brands and products. It enables a test, learn, re-test and optimize approach towards improving all sorts of e-commerce related creative sales tactics.

The ROI on an E-SHOP COP program is easily quantified through the central outputs: Sales and brand prominence lift forecasts. The additional rich diagnostics of your creatives to help you learn and improve over time.

So now what? Get started!
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