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Help shoppers squint less to buy more: Why brands need (much) better digital shelves

Help shoppers squint less to buy more: Why brands need (much) better digital shelves

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The days of linear shopping are over. Today, with shopping having gone social and infused with shoppertainment, consumers are consciously or unconsciously shopping all the time.

According to a recent report by SGK – “From clicks to connections” – which identifies key changes in shopper channel behaviour compared to three years ago, over half of the respondents (52%) say they now discover products more from browsing and scrolling within digital stores versus other channels such as advertising, social media, or even word of mouth.

Explaining this phenomenon, Rachel Yang, head of digital at SGK, said: “While we still have traditional searches on Google, a lot of the times, the journey both begins and ends on marketplace platforms, with the deal sealed with the confidence of media-rich product pages and user reviews.”

She added: “Put simply – when you can buy everything under the sun on these platforms, why start anywhere else?”

What this means for marketers is they must go the extra mile to ramp up the look and experience of their digital storefronts to help shoppers make a choice. Yang added that while creators and influencers at the top of the funnel typically garner more marketing buzz, more attention needs to be paid to the inspiration and discovery aspect within the digital store to drive conversions and sales.

This article was written in collaboration with SGK.

Trust is paramount, but lacking

We all know the importance of gaining consumer trust, but it certainly isn’t built overnight or without investment. But why exactly is the effort so worth your time? Because according to the report, shoppers are open to being influenced, whether or not they’re mission-driven shoppers.

In fact, two thirds of consumers end up with impulse purchases, even if they research beforehand exactly what to buy. However, a lack of trust is the number one silent barrier to purchase, and critical in turning a click into a sale.

In total, consumers consult approximately 2.2 different types of media, including user reviews, brand pages, and blog posts, and take an average of three steps before purchasing. These steps include checking for discounts and promotions, comparing against similar products, and checking product reviews or ratings.

This is especially true in APAC, where shoppers are known to be studious and information-driven. In a region rife with fakes, shoppers need to be assured of the quality and veracity of what they’re buying.

And they look for this in proxies such as user reviews, sales volume, and certification labels. In fact, 52% of APAC shoppers say they now research products more with user reviews, the number one change in product research behaviour versus three years ago.

Inconsistencies and insufficient information are also a barrier to building trust. For example, in Korea, product display pages with insufficient information or overly brief descriptions are viewed as untrustworthy, and almost 75% of shoppers encounter production information inconsistencies, leading up to a 11% loss in sales.

Conversations to start conversions

Undoubtedly, brands have woken up to the power of content marketing, but many are struggling to find inspiration when it comes to authentic content creation. In a sea of sameness, how can your content stand out?

“Authenticity is crucial in the APAC market for brands to establish credibility and stand out from competitors. Consumers here are savvy, making it vital to tailor content that resonates with cultural nuances and fosters deeper emotional connections,” Yang said.

In Japan, precise product information is valued, while in China, integrating local language and cultural symbols enhances brand perception. The study also highlights that regionally, 87% of consumers say they are more likely to purchase a product if shown more media content. Clearly, in our attention-starved world, video is king.

But the takeaway is more nuanced. Yang explains: “Brands need to rethink what is previously considered ‘hygiene’ content. Unboxing videos now doubles as entertainment. And while better digital shelves convert sales, brands should also see how best to elevate these pieces of user-generated content.”

Learning to give up control

Yang is of the view it isn’t so much about the evolving mediums, but rather the evolving way to tell a story that makes or breaks a brand. She explained that inviting consumers to co-create content creates a sense of affinity and trust. But to do so authentically, brands must learn to give up a certain level of control and bring consumers in as trusted creators.

“The worst way to collab with a creator is to dictate the script. But how can brands ensure it’s on brand? That begins with clear anchors in brand truth, tone of voice, and target persona, then letting the creator interpret it with their own voice,” she said. “That’s the key to both coming across authentic, and resonating authentically.”

But she also cautions that brands need to ensure clear hooks to drive traffic to “close the gap between conversation and sales. “It’s not about big tent pole campaigns anymore, but a series of always-on stories that can lead straight to conversion within a swipe or click.”

At the end of the day, if content is king, dissemination is clearly queen, and marketers must learn to speak to each channel’s characteristics – experiential in physical stores, entertaining in social – all without deviating from the brand persona and product promise.

Brand consistency in messaging, look, and feel – without cookie cutter copy and paste – is what builds brand trust. For shoppers, they look for more media, clearer information, and more impactful product storytelling to help them choose. And the brand or retailer that explains not just “why buy this?”, but “why buy this here” wins the sales.

To find out what shoppers look for to turn clicks to sales, download the “From clicks to connections: Better product storytelling for richer commerce” report here.

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