A few weeks ago, we published a blog about how to improve your product rankings on Amazon.com. As we mentioned, a large percentage of shoppers—online and offline—start their product search on Amazon. However, we all know that not all shoppers have the same shopping habits. Not only do you need to pay attention to how your product stories are rendering on Amazon, but also you need to monitor your product information on other sites and search engines—and one of these, of course, is Google. A survey by PowerReviews earlier this year concluded that while Amazon, at 38% of respondents, is the preferred online search vehicle for product search, Google is a close second, at 35%.
Many shoppers, especially those that are Amazon Prime Members who enjoy free shipping on many items on the Amazon site, find shopping on Amazon to be convenient. Many products have multiple reviews and there are frequently multiple sellers for a given product, enabling price and shipping comparisons.
However, Amazon may not actually boast the best product or price options, especially for those shoppers without Prime membership. Likewise, product information found on Amazon.com may be inconsistent and limited by keyword search terms. In contrast, Google’s keyword and algorithmic power can provide shoppers with product options from a variety of retailers—a selection that rivals what is found on Amazon. When shoppers limit themselves to just one shopping site, they may be limiting their product knowledge and options.
When shoppers search on Google, they can find the best products and prices more quickly. For example, when shopping for an “ugly Christmas sweater” for my husband, I searched on Amazon and found this one for $29.99:
However, when I searched for this same sweater on Google, I found the same item for $24.50 on another site. Normally, I wouldn’t be so price-sensitive, but in this case, since I was purchasing a “gag” item, I wanted to spend as little as possible!
Not only may Google provide you with lower price options for your product search, but also Google provides local inventory listings from retailers that are physically located near you. Considering that most retail transactions still take place in a physical store, this information is very useful to shoppers. For last minute gift-buying, this information could be a deciding factor.
Another benefit for shoppers is the better product information they will likely find on Google. Since Google Shopping is a “pay to play” service, requiring retailers to purchase Product Listing Ads (PLAs), retailers may be more inclined to ensure that up-to-date and accurate product information—in terms of imagery, pricing, and product descriptions—is being presented. For manufacturers that participate in Google Manufacturer Center, better product information is pretty much guaranteed due to the tools and analysis that Google provides.
The take-away here is that shoppers can be unpredictable with respect to how and when they conduct a product search. We can provide you with behavioral data and statistics all day long, but to reach the individual shopper, you need to monitor all the channels where your products can be found so that you can meet those personalized needs as they arise. Each individual shopper has unique habits and preferences—where they begin their product search (Google versus Amazon versus retailer), what their criteria are (price versus convenience, for example), and what their timeline and delivery preferences are. Therefore, you need to have accurate, complete, and compelling product information available on every channel to ensure that you can be found and considered, each and every time a shopper searches for your product.
As we embark on 2017, check back with inRiver for more on this topic. We will have additional blogs and webinars to help you create great product stories, raise the visibility of your products and your brand, and stay abreast of your competition and the latest tools and trends. In addition, we will share information about our relationship with Google Manufacturer Center and our connector to that helpful portal.
Register now for our first webinar of the year where we will explore some key eCommerce trends for 2017!
Kathryn Zwack, Senior Content Marketing Manager North America, inRiver
Consumers, myself included, are looking for convenience when considering a purchase. Most prefer to search for products by using Google, Amazon or similar services instead of talking to one of your sales reps or walking into a store. Depending on industry, between 50-60% have researched their product purchase online before they even talk to you.
The more precise the question is that we formulate in the search field, the better response we get, we believe. Or are we actually just getting the results from companies that have figured out SEO, search engine advertising, and the whole content marketing thing? Truth is, companies are spending billions of dollars on search engine ranking and advertising, indicating that it does have a huge impact. The amazing thing is that I have talked to many companies that are spending significant amounts of money on search ranking, but when you go to their website, it does not give you the expected experience. It could be everything from difficult navigation to insufficient product descriptions and product details, difficulty to search for products, hard to find accessories or spare parts, or lack of detailed images.
So how come companies continue to spend their money on search ranking, and just accept that the majority of the spending is not doing any good? Search engine ranking is important, but imagine this: if you take some of the money you spend on search or advertising and use it for actually producing great product content and really letting your products tell their story, then your (potential) customers would not only find your products more easily, they will actually buy products from you. This is a researched fact, and as Peter Sheldon from Forrester recently shared in a Webinar we hosted (watch recording here), almost 70% of your online customers rely on the product-related content when they make a purchase decision. He also shared that 66% of all consumer visits to a manufacturer’s website involves consuming product-related information.
With companies spending seriously big money on getting a top search engine ranking to attract customers to their webshop or store while lacking good product content, many are literally giving their money away. Trying to optimize a web shop without having that product content in place, you will probably continue getting unsatisfactory conversion rates. And adding a new tactical tool to merchandise your assortment will probably not help much, either. I’m not saying that tactical solutions are wrong, but since all of these solutions depend on good product content, you should address the real problem instead: your product content.
Having tools like a PIM (Product Information Management) system helps you manage your product content smoothly and efficiently, and I can promise you that you will see your KPIs improve. But most importantly, your customers will find you and your products, and they will buy not only once, but continue buying since you now provide them with a great customer experience that entails great product content. Great product content leads to informed customers that make purchase decisions.
CEO and President, inRiver