The good news for manufacturers is that thriving in the world of digital marketplaces is not impossible.
By focusing their transformation efforts in four critical areas, they can hold the competition at bay, give sales performance a jolt, cultivating brand loyalty, and most importantly, ignite new market growth.
Operate: Manage across marketplaces
Data is the currency of success in the digital marketplace. Yet for most manufacturers, this is a weak link. Most analyze product data in isolated silos, assessing performance with a blinders-on view of each individual marketplace platforms, which tells only a fraction of the story. And their ability to consistently gather insight—and apply learnings—from search trends or ratings is often underwhelming.
To break through, manufacturers need consumer intelligence from across all digital marketplaces and the ability to act on it in an automated way at scale. This means centralizing account data and publicly available data including competitor data. This cross-marketplace view gets overlooked, but is key to maximizing product performance. To work at speed and scale, manufacturers need machine learning and artificial intelligence to power advanced rules engines that automate responses to data insight from marketing to supply chain. Managing well across marketplaces also means making significant operational changes to address the complexities of channel strategy, inventory allocation, availability and customer service in this dynamic environment.
Orchestrate: Personalize the brand experience
Something is missing from the e-commerce experience. The brand. Companies spend millions on transformative brand stories told through creative campaigns across traditional media, social media and more. But that experience rarely makes its way to the marketplaces, even though the volume of customers and the impact of the experience (81% recall) is undeniable. Instead, boring product images against a soulless white background are the standard for many PDPs. Companies are shockingly ignoring the value of their greatest differentiators and missing critical opportunities to connect with their customers around their unique brand story to avoid the commodity trap.
Getting the brand to the marketplace is only the first step. Brand experiences must also be finely-tuned to target consumers and markets uniquely. New innovations, such as digital twin technology, can create a single digital asset of a product that can be dynamically tailored for different regions, personas, seasons, promotions and more. This agility makes it much more cost effective than traditional methods when numerous variations of the creative are required. It even allows for building an asset before a product is released and supports changing aspects of it later to keep pace with markets or customer needs.
Optimize: Drive performance with experimentation
Nothing is static in a digital marketplace, and the positioning of products cannot be either. How do brands know if the right content, messaging or advertising is resonating with consumers? This requires an ongoing commitment to testing and learning. While there is evaluation of performance from a reporting standpoint today, it is typically siloed and retroactive, coming long after major investments have been made. This approach is costly—in both dollars and time—and can be avoided with much more affordable research and experimentation upfront.
By treating every product page as its own P&L, companies start by understanding the problems that are standing in the way of driving profitable growth at a new level of granularity, often discovering themes across relevant collections, categories and marketplaces. With this approach, manufacturers can hypothesize solutions based on customer insights, trends and historical data. But rather than deploying them with simply the hope that they will be successful, they can set up experiments to rapidly determine what will drive the optimal performance at scale. It is a quicker, more intelligent and more cost-effective path to profitability. One that is built on a foundation of facts, not opinions.
Originate: Discover new opportunities for growth
Digital shelves give manufacturers valuable real-time customer insights that they have never had before. They know what customers are searching for across categories and products, what they are buying, and what positive and negative feedback they are offering in ratings & reviews.
The game changer for manufacturers is in how they act on this gold mine of insight. Based on analysis of trending categories and shelves, manufacturers can enhance existing products or develop new ones that will satisfy an identified need among customers. They can then strategically act on these insights in different ways across different marketplaces to better forecast demand and accelerate growth. They can even evaluate acquisition targets based on current shelf performance relative to competitors.