As a brand in the marketing world, especially one without its own direct-to-consumer (D2C) platform, it can be daunting to jump on the e-commerce bandwagon. This is even more pronounced when the conversation becomes about measurable impact. Most media offerings currently cater predominantly to D2C platforms, pure-play or omnichannel. This means brands without owned merchant centres must look for alternative methods to drive their e-commerce agenda. What brands can sometimes fail to account for is their owned platforms, which can serve as the perfect blend of first-party data (1PD) collection and purchase conversion via search-based media efforts. We will be looking at two such platforms in this piece: websites and brand stores.
POWER TO WEBSITES
A recent Think With Google piece discussed the “messy middle” of a consumer shopping journey. Consumers have moved from an “I’m planning to shop” mindset to an “always shopping” one. This means every communication a brand makes with a consumer is an opportunity to push for purchase. The “messy middle” is made up of two mental modes of exploration and evaluation. Both behaviours are exhibited across a variety of media, but more predominantly via research. A lot of this research, if you think about it, takes place on websites.
Historically for a brand, a website has been the go-to ‘landing page’ for campaigns. More recently, though, marketers have started seeing websites as antiquated. While websites do support 1PD collection, they miss out on lower-funnel consumer intent capture. But this brand owned real estate can now be converted into a shoppable entity for brands without D2C capabilities, with the integration of tech such as ‘Where to Buy’ (WTB).
With WTB, consumers will be given the option to click on a preferred e-retailer and continue their shopping journey.
A common question here tends to be: “Didn’t we just drive them off-platform, resulting in loss of data once again?”. Not with the right external linking in place. When done the right way, you’ll be able to track your consumer and see whether they converted with a purchase. You’ve just unlocked a) intent to purchase, b) preferred e-retailer, c) sell-out data and d) a retargeting mechanism for repeat purchases. There’s more. Once WTB is embedded on to your product pages, you can essentially use them as landing pages for your media across display, video and social to collect purchase data without the hassle of haggling with an e-retailer to share sell-out data.
DIGITAL BRAND STORES ELEVATION
Brand stores that sit within e-retailers can be valuable for brands without D2C platforms. They give brands of all kinds the chance to flex their muscles and be visible in a visually appealing fashion to high-intent consumers. Pre-Covid, brands didn’t have as many options as they do now. Amazon, Noon and Namshi are examples of pureplay partners that have made the solution available. But not all of them allow search-based targeting tactics.
With the launch of Amazon Sponsored Ads, from Q1 this year brands have had the opportunity to use the search with e-retailers and bid for eyeballs, based on brand objectives. With brand, generic and competitor keyword targeting mechanisms, a brand without (or even with) a D2C platform can build its digital storefront to convert high-intent consumers. It doesn’t hurt that there’s an additional opportunity for data collection and insights. For example, with e-retailer based sell-out data, we can understand further which stock-keeping units (SKUs) sell best, if bundle offers work and whether consumers are more interested in ‘best’ or ‘cheap’ products.
Mobile commerce partners like Instashop also play in the space of search with category (generic) and search (brand) banner placements based on agreed-upon keywords. Data shared by a partner like this involves geographic analysis and modern-versus-general versus- pharma trade analysis. Insights here can also contribute to hyper-personalisation of brand strategies.
Solutions like WTB implementation work best when activated for e-retailers that allow you to own a brand store on their platforms. When activated as a cohesive strategy, brands are likely to see high conversion with a measurable return on spend. The beauty of e-commerce today is the constant evolution of product solutions being made available for brands of all kinds. Continue to test and learn, and sooner or later you’ll find the right strategy that works for your brand.