How to optimize your digital shelf to boost sales

When it comes to starting an e-commerce business and setting up your product pages, there’s a lot happening behind the scenes. Creating your digital shelf is more than just placing products online and waiting for people to buy.

So much goes into making a digital shelf that converts and looks appealing. In this article, we’ll discuss what a digital shelf is, why it’s important to pay attention to every aspect of it, and how to optimize it to boost your sales.

What is the digital shelf?

The digital shelf is, in a nutshell, virtual shelf space for e-commerce businesses. When you go to a physical store, you browse and pick items off a shelf. When shopping online, the digital shelf is how your product is presented among other products.

Your digital shelf presence encompasses the layout of your product page, product photography, the product’s description, and customer reviews. The digital shelf also refers to the various online places where your products are displayed: the brand’s website, a marketplace like Amazon, a mobile app like Instacart, third-party sites like Wayfair, and more. 

In addition, a digital shelf page is displayed in email campaigns, lists of categorized products, and, primarily, in search results. Customers can search for the type of product they’re looking for, and the returned results act as the digital shelf.

Why is the digital shelf important?

What do you see when you walk into a retail store? Are there big signs telling you about a sale? Do decorated end caps showcase popular, in-season items? Most importantly, do these displays grab your attention?

If so, then the retailer has done its job. Stores constantly rearrange items on the shelves to show them off in a fun and enticing way. How products are displayed affects how well they sell.

On the digital shelf, your product needs to look more appealing than the ones beside it. Because product pages are generally standardized and don’t often change, for the most part, the product needs to sell itself through smart visuals and copy.

Let’s go over the elements of the digital shelf that you can control; namely, your product page.

What are the components of a digital shelf?

Wherever your product pages live, they differ somewhat. Every marketplace has its own brand that makes it unique from the others (think Amazon vs. eBay).

Looks aside, all product pages contain certain components. Potential buyers may come across your products through ads, social media, a blog post, or from a search engine result. If intrigued, that customer may click through from the digital shelf.

Once they click on your product page, you want them to be impressed by what they see. Your listings should be eye-catching, informative, and enticing enough for them to want to buy your items.

Product title

First and foremost, think about your product title. You want your title to be clear but concise. A product title shouldn’t bog down the customer with too much information — just let them know they have found what they were looking for.

Be specific. For example, if you sell shoes, it’s not enough to state it’s a pair of shoes. What kind are they? Sneakers, flip-flops, flats, etc. Are they kid’s shoes? Do they come in women’s sizes? Your goal is to give your customer what they need without having to click around to find it.

A quick tip: take a look at other e-commerce stores that sell similar products as you. What are their titles like? Don’t just copy what they have, but take note of what you like and dislike about their titles. Then you can find a way to title your own products effectively.

Product description

Like your product title, a product description needs to be clear and informative to your potential buyer. Describe the product with all the information your customer might need to know, such as the dimensions and weight of the product, its material, color, and more. What do your customers receive when they order the product? Is there a component of the product that’s sold separately?

Keep your product description SEO-friendly by not duplicating content from your other products or anyone else’s and by skillfully incorporating keywords. SEO makes it easier for search engines to feature your products and more likely for customers to click on them.

Usually, the first thing you notice about a product is what it looks like. While the title and description are crucial, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Showing off how your product looks can leave a lasting impression on the customer. Having a gallery is even better. In your product photos, use various angles, compare the product’s size to other items for scale, and feature images of the item while it’s in use.

Product video

Like your image gallery, a video can show your customers exactly what the product is and how it can be used. Product videos are important to have because they are the closest your e-commerce business can get to explaining your products “in person.” They can highlight more about the product than photos.

Enhanced content

Enhanced content, also known as deluxe content, is what can close the sale. Here, make your product shine compared to similar products from different brands.

Show your customers why your product is better than any other one of its kind. Explain to your customers how your item will help solve any problems they may be having. How will your product change your customer’s life?

Hype your product by sharing graphs, visually comparing your product to the competition’s, or using clever GIFs and slogans.

Buy box

The buy box is one of the most important aspects of your product page. The buy box contains all the information customers need when buying your item: quantity selection, color and sizing options, shipping information, in-stock status, price, and the “buy now” button. Unless it’s your own e-commerce site, you might not have much control over what the buy box looks like, but do ensure that you’ve filled out all the necessary fields.

Customer FAQs

When looking at a product, potential buyers are bound to have some questions about it. They might feel unsure about the sizing or wonder about the material.

Keep a note of these questions and add them to a FAQ section. If at least one person has this question, then chances are someone else might have the same question.

Ratings and reviews

Ratings and reviews help sell your product. One of the first things people do when scrolling through a digital shelf (sometimes even before they click on the product page) is to check out the reviews. If they see an item that has a four- or five-star rating and it’s something they need or are interested in, then they’re more apt to click on the product. If they see the product has a one- or two-star rating (or no rating at all), they’ll most likely keep scrolling.

Wherever you’re able to, respond to negative reviews by trying to make the situation right. Thank positive reviewers for their feedback. Your responsiveness demonstrates to buyers that your company cares about customer service.

What is digital shelf optimization?

Digital shelf optimization is the process of making sure your page performs well. It means building your page according to best practices so that it can found on search engines such as Google and other marketplaces such as Kroger, Walmart, Target, or Best Buy. In addition to boosting SEO, optimizing your product page will affect other key performance indicators (KPIs), such as minimizing the bounce rate or increasing the average time a customer spends on your site.

Now that you know what digital shelf optimization means and what it can do for your displays, what are some ways you can boost your SEO and KPIs?

Every pixel of your product page can be optimized, such as:

  • The product’s name or page title
  • Product photography and visual assets, including video and enhanced content
  • The product description

How to optimize your digital shelf

Retailers strategically place their products on physical shelves with enticing displays and labels that are eye-level.

Digital shelves work much the same way with a virtual twist. Much like the importance of keeping your product at eye level on a physical shelf, you want your product to be placed above the fold. Online, “the fold” is where a person must scroll to see more.

Product placement

Retailers have limited shelf space, but e-commerce stores do not. You can have pages and pages of products, but how you prioritize your products matters. For example, you don’t want your most popular product buried on page eight. In a marketplace, you have less control over how your products rank, but building your product pages according to SEO best practices will help.

On your own site, your items are probably already categorized into mugs, notebooks, T-shirts, etc. Consider creating categories that put various items together under a common theme. For example, “back to school” may include notebooks and T-shirts.

Use your shop’s homepage and other strategic locations on your site to showcase new popular items and cross-promote related products.

Keep an eye on your digital shelf

Things change at a constant pace. Even after you’ve set up your products for people to buy, you shouldn’t be finished with optimization. Keep an eye on your digital presence across every channel and marketplace, and tune-up listings as necessary to keep up with the competition.

Monitor your digital shelf often and update it in a timely manner. When Back to School season is over, get ready for Halloween.

Keep your product pages up-to-date by ensuring there are no broken links or outdated information. 

How PickFu can help with digital shelf optimization

Optimize your digital shelf by collecting outside feedback on your listings. Here’s how:

  1. Decide which area of your product listing you want to optimize first. For instance, you might think the highest impact you can make is to optimize your product photography or title. Or maybe you want to see what people think about your listing versus a competitor in your category.
  2. Based on what you decided to test, input a question on PickFu. Some sample questions to consider:
    • Based on the title, which product would you rather buy?
    • Which image do you prefer?
    • After viewing this listing, what questions do you have about the product?
  3. Choose the audience that you’d like to respond to your question. PickFu enables you to quickly poll 50, 100, 200, or even 500 people at once. These respondents are real people, categorized by over 45 traits that you can mix and match. For example, if you’re looking for help with a product for dogs, you can choose a respondent pool of dog owners.
  4. In just minutes, PickFu will bring you answers on demand. Read through each comment carefully, and use the feedback to improve and iterate your product pages.

With PickFu, you can test your marketing copy and visuals, compare your strengths and weaknesses to competing brands, run pricing surveys, and more.

Case study: YES Bar

On September 3, 2020, PickFu CMO Kim Kohatsu and Mindful Goods founder Daniela Bolzmann presented a case study to MyDigitalShelf.

The case study involves YES Bar, an emerging CPG brand that is sold in stores including Erewhon, Lassens, and Williams-Sonoma. The company was hoping to improve its Amazon sales because conversions had plateaued.

With the help of PickFu, YES Bar improved its main product image, resulting in an 11.8% increase in sessions. With the increased organic traffic, this one change alone could account for about $3,390 in increased revenue.

The cost of the PickFu test? $85.

You can use PickFu to optimize your digital shelf, too. In just minutes, you’ll get answers from a targeted audience and start boosting your sales. Try a PickFu poll now! 

Learn more: Optimize your product listings by testing design concepts, photos, and descriptions with a target audience of likely buyers.

Rachel Poli