Why Blended Merchandising And Advertising Is The Future Of Online Sales
Brands need to actively blend their merchandising and advertising efforts in 2016. Beyond winning shoppers’ trust and putting the right inventory at researchers’ fingertips, an integrated approach offers retailers several benefits, which are outlined here.
E-commerce sales are predicted to surpass $3.5 trillion by 2020, and even when purchases happen in store rather than online, more than two-thirds of shoppers still conduct digital research before buying.
With the growing power of mobile e-commerce, consumers aren’t just doing research on-the-go; they’re making decisions on the spot, and they have both high expectations and little time when doing so. As such, brands cannot afford to serve consumers ads that lead them to products that are no longer available. Unfortunately, this happens often.
As the holiday season comes to a close, it’s a time to reflect on what worked for online retailers and what didn’t. While display advertisements remain popular (and are expanding within social platforms like Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram), these ads do both the brand and the consumer a disservice if they aren’t relevant. In general, digital marketing is pointless when ads lead shoppers to products they can’t buy. What’s more, even when brands do feature products actually available for purchase, these advertisements often lack critical pieces of sales information that encourage shoppers to buy.
In order to avoid situations like these, brands need to actively blend their merchandising and advertising efforts in 2016. Beyond winning shoppers’ trust and putting the right inventory at researchers’ fingertips, an integrated approach offers retailers the following additional benefits:
More Effective Use Of Digital Budgets
Many brands waste advertising dollars on campaigns that offer zero opportunities for conversion. If, for example, an online shopper is served a targeted ad for a pair of boots, this ad does both the brand and the shopper a disservice if these boots aren’t in stock. Or when consumers visit a bare bones landing page only to find minimal product information, no photos, or back-ordered inventory, they are likely to take their business elsewhere and lose faith in that brand or retailer as a result.
Advertising is expensive, and in terms of e-commerce, it’s impractical for marketers to spend their entire budgets across all products and lines. Instead, they should look at available merchandise and make strategic choices to push specific inventory. For example, if one item is overstocked or another is under selling, brands can create campaigns around these products to move them off shelves.
Marketers also waste their ad dollars when landing pages lack detail. To keep consumers engaged by the time they reach a retailer’s website, product information must be detailed, specific, and easy to digest. This product content should be consistent both online and in store, too.
Rather than advertise blindly, marketers can and should integrate inventory data to create a cohesive shopping experience both online and in store. In doing so, marketers will save both time and money.
Greater Ad Specificity
With a better understanding of real-time inventories, brands and retailers can deploy campaigns that promote the specific products they have on hand, meaning customers will never reach a dead end. For instance, if shoppers are researching SUVs, marketers can coordinate their merchandising information to create campaigns around the models they actually have available on the lot. Then, in knowing what shoppers are most interested in purchasing, marketers can use tools like remarketing and dynamic retargeting to serve them ads featuring this content even after they have left the site. This way, shoppers can avoid researching cars that they are unable to own.
In addition to specificity, marketers can use merchandising data to create a sense of urgency across their ads or weave in additional points of relevancy. If there are only five tablets left in stock, brands can include this information in their advertising content to inspire shoppers to purchase. Likewise, if brands know customers typically buy a stylus with this tablet, they can add this to the advertisement. This will increase relevancy with shoppers and position the brands for more sales.
Competitive Ad Spending
As retailers get better at using their own merchandising information to generate advertisements with greater specificity, they can then begin to use outside information to do the same. In the past, small businesses could look across the street to see their competition. If one drug store was carrying a new type of candy and it was selling out, others on the block could take notice and begin to advertise and move the same product.
Although this relationship between brands is no longer so direct, today’s retailers can use market data to analyze what their industries are selling. For example, marketers can pay attention to their competitors’ social media activity to determine if certain products or trends are resonating with shoppers. They can then echo this competitive intel into their own advertisements and chip away at other businesses’ market share.
Even the best marketing and sales teams can become stronger by working together. While business units could once operate separately with little to no repercussions, today’s highly interconnected and digital world demands that teams join forces to benefit both the bottom line and the savvy consumer.