Between a Website offering thousands of references and another offering just a few hundred, it is an easy choice for consumers. This means that the scope of the catalogue becomes crucial for retailers. But how to proceed without incurring astronomical costs for storage, transport, management, etc.? By expanding the offer thanks to omnichannel retailing. Here are some explanations.
A question of visibility
It is mathematical. More than one-third of consumers begin their search for products on Google1. Among them, 91% do not go beyond the first page of results2. Therefore, the vital nature of good natural SEO for retailers is understandable.
At the same time, search engines - like consumers - prefer sites offering as many choices as possible. The more products associated with a keyword the brand e-shop carries, the more chance the site has of appearing at the top of the list of search results. And it is the same in stores since 71 % of consumers hope to find the same variety of products at a physical point of sale as on Internet3. In other words, brands are forced to expand their product catalogue if they want to deal with competition.
Facing brands, pure-players and marketplaces are regularly placed at the top of Google result lists thanks to their almost unlimited catalogue. For example, Amazon4 offers 183 million references on-line! Such a wide range of options that consumers tend to go directly to these websites rather than going via a search engine: they are certain of finding what they are looking for. Thus, 44% of Americans start their product search on Amazon5.
To reverse the phenomenon, there is no mystery. Without going so far as offering such an extensive catalogue as the pure-players, retailers are forced to extend their offer to remain competitive and to propose more choice to consumers (up and cross-selling). But how to expand the catalogue without skyrocketing costs for storage, transport, management etc.?
TAKING UP THE CHALLENGE
How to expand the product offer thanks to omnichannel?
The arrival of omnichannel commerce offers a new opportunity for retailers to increase the offer in store without greatly increasing storage costs. Touch screens with access to a full catalogue, applications that provide complementary products, store-to-web... there are many innovative shopping paths designed to offer more articles at the physical points of sale. The benefits for the retailer are numerous: increased volume of additional sales, more personalisation of the customer path - or of the products themselves – or even increased cross selling thanks to partnerships between brands.
This is one of the keys to expanding the online catalogue: getting complementary retail companies to work together through the resale of products as a white label or via a license transfer. This has recently been tried by a children's clothing brand to offer perfumes in its catalogue. In parallel with these multi-partner agreements, it is vital to pool stock and information. A strategy adopted by Amazon since each partner seller brings their stock information and their standardised product information sheets. This is a way to increase stock without greatly increasing the volume of work.
1 Source: Survata for Bloomreach, 2015
2 Source: Chikita, 2014
3 Source: Observatoire Cetelem 2014
4 Source: Fevad, 2015
5 Source: Survata for Bloomreach, 2015
6 Test performed incognito30/01/2017
The expansion of the offer must therefore be based on qualitative criteria, rather than quantity alone. This implies having the right tools to take up the challenge:
- A central, comprehensive and omnichannel repository of the products: the sellers and the customers must have access to standardised, reliable information that is updated in real time.
- Automatic import of the external repositories: to have the same level of knowledge, partner brands must communicate their data through APIs and algorithms that can verify the reliability of information.
- A Product Information Management tool (PIM): this software makes it possible to enrich product information sheets flexibly by creating products families with different characteristics, for example.
These are all essential tools to ensure that brands have a chance of competing with pure-players without turning into marketplaces.
Compete with the pure-players?
"Consumers have matured in this sense due to the "Amazon effect" with which they have become used to having access to an almost unlimited catalogue. Without fighting directly against the giant of the Net, the retailers must meet consumer demands by expanding their offer to remain competitive."
Pierre Gressier, Head of Distribution & Services Sector, Gfi Informatique.
Omni-partners and omni-logistics building blocks?
The omni-partners and omni-logistics building blocks of the Gfi Omnicommerce solution allow you to set up a centralised and unified repository of your products. Directly integrated into your information system, these blocks secure the content enrichment of the catalogue, optimise exchanges with partners and industrialise product referencing.