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Ep. 4 - How to Succeed on - with WhyteSpyder

Listen as experts discuss the importance of merchandising categorization to succeed on

A DBB podcast episode on 'How to Succeed on - with WhyteSpyder'

Table of Contents

As the world’s largest retailer, Walmart must master the shopping experience for its customers. That means making sure each channel a customer shops through supports a good experience. The company’s website on a computer browser, the smartphone app, a store location, the reserved space for grocery pickup, the product detail page: every point of engagement on the shopper journey needs to be ready.

As suppliers for Walmart, merchants must maintain content for those channels that meet customers’ demands.

A mom in Bentonville, Arkansas spends a few minutes in the waiting room at her doctor’s office searching the Walmart app. She’s on the lookout for gluten-free, prepackaged meal options for her family. Before she hears her name called, she has a few minutes to scroll through the app search results, glance at images, and read product details. She checks prices, ingredients, and nutrition labels before adding a couple of meals to the app cart.

After work that evening, she returns to retailer website, this time on her laptop, and starts right where she left off. The meals she selected earlier in the day are still in her cart, the meals she clicked on before her appointment appear in the margin, and new, similar meals show up as options.

Recipes show up, all gluten-free, as well as more foods and snacks she has purchased in the past. Every item is visible and accessible, each with an easy one-click option for her to add to her online cart. If she wants, she can tap a 21-second video for complete meal ideas, including desserts, that match the criteria of her original search. The product page includes a list of possible meal-plan suggestions with ideas for each day that week and real-time dates.

This streamlined experience has helped her choose the products she wants and how those products will ultimately make it into her car—or her home—through pick-up, delivery, shipping, or combination of those options. In fewer than 10 minutes, this customer has purchased a week’s worth of grocery items that will be in her kitchen in the next 24 to 48 hours.

This is what omnichannel comes down to: creating a seamless and congruous experience for your shopper.

Shoppers As Experts

Customers are driving the shopping experience. The Bentonville mom is but one representation of the more than 70% of Walmart customers who have diversified their shopping behaviors and accelerated the channels in which they purchase. Even though 72% of retail purchases still happen inside the store, more than 50% of Walmart customers first go online to research products, even while standing in a brick-and-mortar location where, presumably, they’re not tearing open a box to find out more about your product.

Smartphone technology helped make this possible. Once consumers could reach into their pocket and pull out 24/7 fast access to information with little portable computers, there was no going back. People have the opportunity to research and purchase products in a multitude of ways from a choice of retailers. Each person engages with retail channels and spaces in the way that works for them at that time, and those individual experiences can be used as data points for research.

Content is Most Definitely King

That technology and variety is where content comes into play. Good content increases conversions by alleviating doubt and helping customers understand what they’re purchasing, whether that’s an after-school snack or a battery charger. Good content makes your brand look better than your competitors and your products more tempting. Good content acknowledges the leverage shoppers now have and gives them an experience that drives sales.

The challenge confronting your brands is how to prioritize that good content to make it the right content for shopper engagement. Your shopper engagement. Walmart’s shopper engagement. This requires recognizing the relevancy of omnichannel and how it correlates to customer satisfaction and ultimately, driving sales.

Everyone involved in this process is at a crossroads. Walmart tries to meet shoppers at the crossroads of where and how the shopper wants to buy any product. Suppliers need to meet the retailer at the crossroads not just with their products, but with the fundamental content needed to support those products’ sales.

Every online product detail page should offer an open door to all the information a person needs. Is that information the right content? Can an individual look on your product page and see a description and read through specifications? Do your detail shots and short videos display how it can be used? Are there lifestyle photos integrating the product into curated scenes that demonstrate its potential? Is the content prioritized in such a way to help that individual feel their own potential and how their life is improved by purchasing this product? And by purchasing the product now?

“Customers expect it. Walmart expects it. Your brand must meet them in that space.”

Simplifying an Urgent, Daunting Process

If your brand isn’t putting its best foot forward online now, you’re missing out. Every second without the right content means losing visibility—and sales. That’s one of the current challenges with being profitable as a brand in 2023: the ability to have really quick turnaround.

Omnichannel doesn’t allow for delays, and as it grows, so does the urgency surrounding the customer experience. Walmart is meeting the customer where they’re at. Brands have to do the same.

Today’s customer is walking down a particular aisle knowing what they want and hoping they can pull it right off the shelf. Are you helping them find that aisle, and then meeting them on that shelf with the product they came looking for? Did you create the right content to direct them to that aisle long before they walked into the store? Do you have the tools and technology and knowledge to get their attention and keep their focus and make sure your product at this Walmart is what they should definitely buy?

Creating—and maintaining—that mountain of content for every product can be cumbersome. It must be maintained and updated to meet the shopper on their journey. The whole experience is now as tangible as the actual product. Walmart will require your brand to be really good at all the channels where their customers engage.

Every word, sentence, summary, description, specification, photo, video, and multidimensional interactive option must be reviewed and updated. Your brand will have to be great at meeting the expectations on that crossroads of where Walmart meets you.

New Retail: Omnichannel Expands Opportunity for Your Brand Story

Omnichannel gives your company new and continuing opportunities to extend its packaging and lengthen the aisle you have available by providing online other products within your portfolio that shoppers might like. Each avenue in which a customer shops offers a place for your brand to reach out and bring them on board and take them through an intuitive shopping process. Each creates a space for new, relevant content to help you help the customer.

It’s a side of the business not always well understood by those who have largely been focused on solely building the in-store space.

Walmart will demand being really good at both. It will also require brands and suppliers to be really good with other channels. The longer a brand waits to work on competency in this process, the more overwhelming it will be for suppliers. The layers of complexity increase, and tools and expertise will be needed to move forward. Every item will need applicable attribution including details, technical specifications, size, weight, construction materials, and price. Every customer will take limited time to check out content they need to see before possibly deciding to move on.

When you think about omnichannel, you’ll have to think about content and attributes. A product brand not making those a regular part of their mindset is analogous to a professional basketball player working on everything but dribbling and free throws.

Your brand will need expertise and experience to manage the always growing, everchanging omnichannel marketing needs. Content will have to be complete and match the style guide put forth by Walmart. It’s important for your brand to plan ahead and recognize the complexity and time-consuming task of making your catalog excellent to an omnichannel retailer’s requirements.

Back to Business (Fundamentals)

Content will have to allow businesses and brands to concentrate on what they do best, what they know. That’s precisely what Walmart is doing in its own business. They are working to make sure every shopper globally can get their product in the most convenient way possible without friction: not just the mom in Bentonville; but the uncle in Pali, Costa Rica; the student in Quilicura, Chile; and the grandparent in Edmonton, Canada.

Walmart is saying: You’re selling with us, and we need information on this product that you’re selling with us. We’ll tell you what we need, we’ll provide you with a style guide for the content and we’ll give you criteria and a score so you know what you can improve.

Living up to these omnichannel expectations is the task at hand--and ahead--for merchants and suppliers living in the backyard of the world’s largest retailer.

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