“One thing is really clear: If you’re not winning on the digital shelf, and you’re not driving great content, driving regular reviews, it means you’re also not going to win in-store,” said Andrew Pearl, VP of industry insights at Profitero.
Digital continues to drive in-store purchases
While a majority of grocery store purchases still occur in stores, consumers increasingly rely on digital tools to inform their purchase decision and to compare prices while in-store, Pearl said, noting “80% of shoppers say that their retail purchases are influenced in some way online by digital touchpoints,” according to Profitero data.
Digital experiences not only drive new product discovery, but they inform consumers when a product isn’t good, Pearl said.
“Six in 10 said they're more likely to discover new products online, [and] ... four out of 10 shoppers will actually switch their purchase even when they're in store if they read a bad review,” Pearl added.
CPG brands and retailers looking to attract new customers not only need to invest in digital – whether that’s through paid search, product pages, etc. - but they need to ensure that they follow consumers on their journey, as opposed to trying to guide how they buy, Anne Zybowski, VP of e-commerce and digital shelf at Circana.
“[Eighty-three precernt] of consumers today are omnichannel shoppers, and our role as category leaders is to actually be channel agnostic and follow the consumer along the path and along those touchpoints and find the places that we can disrupt [and] influence behavior,” Zybowski said. “[There are] multiple places that oftentimes people are starting their journey online and that digital influence and thinking about digital as the tip of the spear to driving that purchase is critically important across the board.”
How CPG brands can work with retailers to create omnichannel growth
CPG brands need to guide omnichannel conversations including in-store placements and correct content on digital pages, Pearl said. First, CPG brands should understand that they "don't need to start from scratch [and can] take an existing well-known model for marketing ... and really make sure you're adapting it to the digital-shelf language," he added.
"Starting off with products, I think it's really about helping your retail partners understand those critical gaps. Now, that might be unique brands that they've given retailers, might be unique prices configurations, particularly larger packs, certainly virtual bundles," Pearl said. "Too often we see retailers choosing those bundles themselves, as category leaders, you really need to be helping them and guiding that placement."
And "in terms of the online experience, it's all driven by search behavior," so CPG brands should guide their retailers in selecting the correct keywords for their products. Taking a copy-and-paste approach of taking keywords from one retailer to another won't work because "only two out of 14 keywords are common across retailers," he added.
"Help your retail partners understand the right search terms that are relevant for their particular category and the particular retailer."