Tapping into this core search behavior is the key to selling successfully, both online and offline, but until recently has been a challenge for retailers.
Online retailers should carefully consider their shopping channels, online store, and related variables to match what consumers are searching.
One major consideration for RSI and search is your online ad budget. Direct-response search dollars once allocated to long-tail, keyword-driven campaigns should be reinvested in platforms and campaigns that better capture retail search intent.
Retail Outlet Differentiation Beyond Price
Online shopping has placed the consumer at the core of search. Shoppers can afford to be choosy, with RSI-focused channels like Amazon and Google leading the online shopping charge. Total cost to the consumer is the major factor for purchase decisions, with all other seller variables even -- shipping, seller quality, etc.
Moving into 2015, this means retail relationships with manufacturers, buying power, and margin tolerance will dictate where consumers make their purchase. Giving retailers the best opportunity to be competitive means allocating ad dollars to products.
Increasingly, any seller’s product offerings will appear on search result pages next to other products that are identical; to compete, retailers should develop a deeper understanding of why they stock certain inventory beyond just price. Guarantees, shipping speed, consumer feedback -- these are just some of the leading variables you need to optimize for ecommerce success in 2015.
Investments in Site Experience and Content
Product metadata is what drives the ability of search engines to match inventory with intent. It’s essential that data feeds incorporate rich descriptions that searchers would use to find products, so search engines can figure out which of your products are most relevant to potential buyers and have a higher likelihood of purchase.
Investment in structured data isn’t limited to feed optimization. Google advertisers should also consistently enhance product landing pages to ensure that once shoppers find your page, they complete a purchase.
For LPO best practices and testing, consider using services like Unbounce or Optimizelyto experiment with landing page content and layout. You also should consider schema.org(a “collection of schemas that webmasters can use to markup HTML pages in ways recognized by major search providers,” according to the company) to send a clear signal of what’s actually being shown on your product page.
Product landing pages should also begin to use more images of products in context, and reviews when available. This will increase stickiness, distinguish site experience and drive conversion.
Investments in Loyalty and Intelligent Merchandising
Opportunities for organic or inexpensive traffic from traditional search channels are going to decrease over time, as more online retailers leverage RSI and search. To stay competitive, sellers will need to ramp up investments in other ecommerce areas, including retargeting, email marketing and loyalty programs.
Leverage product level retargeting to use your own consumer browsing data, in order to target people who are in-market to bring them back to your landing page. Ramp up those bids for product retargeting as high as possible, with high impression caps during the first three to six hours of consumer browsing.
Segmenting your email remarketing and merchandising is critical for consumable products (like food) or repeat-purchase products that are needed continually throughout a buyer’s life cycle, such as personal care items like razors. Savvy sellers will time purchase cycles based on previous customer purchases and email their segmented audience accordingly.
Loyalty programs are a great investment to build a strong affinity for your brand, and could be the difference between a purchase-less click and a repeat customer. Retailers need to figure out ways to bring one-time buyers closer to your brand, so consumers return when they see you back on search the next time they’re buying.
For competitive comparison shopping channels like Amazon and Google, consider using a repricing tool, or dynamically changing prices for best-sellers and popular products to increase conversions. Repricing and price changes are especially competitive during key shopping seasons like Q4, when it’s time to pay extra attention to pricing and shipping rates. One hack many retailers use at this time is the baked-in shipping cost: including shipping price within total price to incentivize purchases without the loss of profit.
Any search feature that differentiates your brand and products can help increase conversions. Consider becoming a Google Trusted Store and leveraging promotions such as Google Trusted Stores (expanded outside of the U.S. 11/19), and Merchant Promotions. For Amazon, consider expanding search and product page exposure with Amazon-sponsored products.
Using RSI could well be the difference between just staying afloat and realizing your full online selling potential.