The e-commerce market is rapidly exploding – in the last year alone the amount consumers have spent online increased by 11.2%. From customers moving online to do their weekly shopping, to consumers browsing comparison sites on their smartphones and tablets, the digital shelf is becoming just as important as the physical shelf.
Yet it’s interesting – and also very worrying – to look at the state of product packaging being displayed online by some brands, compared to their physical products. The lack of a unified approach undermines a product’s ability to be both desirable and profitable, says Matt Bennett, SVP, Growth Strategies, Product Development & Innovation at SGK.
While more consumers head online to make their purchases, many brand owners are failing to equally invest in the representation of their products online. So what can they do to take control of the e-content supply chain and ensure a consistent brand experience for consumers across all points of purchase - both physical and digital? Here are three tips:
1. Create a unified supply chain strategy
Start by creating a consistent strategy, from conception to completion, for managing a products’ online and physical presence. Make sure that you have a clearly defined supply chain process that can simultaneously launch products on time in both the physical and digital store. Not only will this guarantee brand consistency, but it also ensures that you are able to control the digital image used elsewhere, both in retail environments and also on product review sites.
2. Consistency is key
It’s vital that your products are represented consistently across ALL online retailers and product review sites. If you’re seeing a mix of 2D and 3D images, different lighting and colour, outdated or missing information, see this as an opportunity to improve the impression your brand makes on the digital shelf. A simple way to do this and reduce supply chain costs is to use final and approved artwork for both your printed and virtual product. This limits discrepancies between the digital and physical shelves. Also consider protecting your brand by specifying explicit standards for packaging on the digital shelf in your brand guidelines, which will ensure consistency across all products.
3. Avoid regulatory risk
With not long to go until the main elements of the Food Information to Consumers EU 1169/2011 Regulation come into effect in the UK and across Europe, brand owners should be reviewing packaging to ensure it complies with the new requirements. The regulation requires clearer and more prominent display of allergen and other information on packaging, but also specifies that compliance includes the digital shelf. Inaccurate representation of a brand online doesn’t just erode consumer trust, but it can place a business at regulatory risk.
From a lack of process ownership to overly complex supply chain, there are many reasons that consistent and compliant digital packaging is overlooked by brand owners. Yet, as more consumers migrate online to do their shopping and new regulations place brands at risk, the online shelf can no long afford to be pushed to second place status.