Digital Merchandising: Why Manufacturers Should Monitor Retailers’ Sites

Manufacturers know that they need to take control of their brand in-store — but what about online?

With the prevalence of online shopping, many retailers are launching e-commerce websites that feature all the products available in store. As a manufacturer, are you paying attention to what they are posting?

Many brands maintain a digital presence under their own name – for instance, Product A would advertise online as “Product A” — but what about if Retailer A has Product A listed for sale on their website?

Just as you would check on how your brand is being presented in-store, the same needs to be done online. Consider the following:

1. Product Listing Information

First and foremost, just like in store, you’ll want to make sure that your product information is correct on the retailer’s website.

This includes the product name, description, price, and more.

You want to be sure that anything listed on your product page is correct and in-line with your brand guidelines.

Beyond just your product page, you also want to check that it is easy to find your product. Some e-commerce websites can be hard to navigate. Make sure that when a customer searches for your brand, they are seeing all of your products. If this isn’t happening, it’s time to talk with the retailer.

2. Shipping and/or Delivery Methods

Many retailers that have product information online do so because they offer e-commerce services where customers can order without going into the store.

You likely have already worked out with them who is responsible for the shipping and delivery in these cases, but – to state the obvious – if you haven’t, it’s a must.

Even if you have worked it out, it’s still important to make sure that the shipping is happening as described. If there is a problem with the shipping channel, for example (as happened with Canada Post in November of 2018), is there a back-up delivery method?

If the retailer is shipping out orders, are they packaged in an appropriate way for your brand?

3. Stock Management

Online stock management can be different from in-store, but as a manufacturer it’s still important to check the status regularly.

You want to make sure that your product isn’t kept “out of stock” for long periods of time or that – as can happen in store – you have product on the shelves, but the online system isn’t being updated.

This is an extra layer of scrutiny, but if you are selling online it’s well worth it to undertake.

4. Product Photography

In-store you have to worry about how your product looks on shelves. Online you have to think about how your product looks in photographs.

Ideally the retailer has a strong website with high-resolution pictures and your product looks great on the page. Depending on the product, there may even be an option to view it in 3-D or in different colours.

But if that isn’t happening, you need to know about it and make sure that brand is putting its best foot forward.

5. Digital Promotions

You may send out sales and promotions through your brand’s digital marketing, but what about your retailers? Whether you’re planning a nation-wide promotion or a sale specifically with one retailer, you want to make sure that it is reflected online as well as in-store or flyers.

Ask retailers how they are promoting these events — through a newsletter, on social media, on their website, etc.

You may also consider a digital-exclusive sale or promotion.

6. Social Media

While you can control your brand’s own social media, how are you being represented by your retailers?

What are they posting about your products – or are they posting about them at all?

You might consider creating content to share with retailers for their use on social media, in newsletters, etc. It’s also a good idea to create an image library, particularly for retailers who rely on Instagram.

The more content you can create and share, the easier it will be for your retailers to communicate your message in a brand-friendly way.

7. Brand Reputation

We’ve written before about the effect that negative online reviews can have. While you may be monitoring reviews on your brand’s online presences, what about your retailers?

It’s important to respond to online reviews, particularly the negative ones. But if a negative review about your brand or product is made on a retailer’s social media, are you even aware?

There are a lot of places to leave online reviews – Google and Facebook are two of the biggest ones – and some customers may not differentiate between your brand the retailer. If they are leaving negative reviews on your retailers’ presences about your product, you need to be aware and responsive.

Digital brand management can be time-consuming, but in today’s online-driven world, it’s vital. Even when customers are still shopping more in-store, research shows that the majority do research online before buying.

Storesupport Canada can help brands manage their online reputations.

Learn more today by calling 1-877-421-5081 or visiting www.storesupport.ca.

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