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Ecommerce Product Discovery

Ecommerce Product Discovery: Everything You Need To Know

July 22, 2021

When it comes to retail, there’s something that all brands have in common: they all want to get their products in front of the right people. 

Increased reliance on technology and the rise of online shopping has changed the way consumers discover products. In this post we take a look at everything you need to know about online product discovery in order to make your ecommerce store a success. 

What is product discovery?

Customers may not always enter a shop with a specific product in mind. Sometimes they may want to browse to see what a store has. And this goes for ecommerce stores too – sometimes someone may take a look at your website without a particular product in mind. 

Some may deliberate for hours, some may buy something they like on the spot. But how did they find the right product in the first place? Product discovery is the process of making it easier for consumers to find something for them, thus increasing the chance of conversion. 

Product discovery has gone through some changes. Whilst the basic concept and process remains the same, in the past ecommerce sites have used mostly merchant-defined categorisation when it comes to narrowing down products for customers. Now things are more advanced and we have much wider capabilities when it comes to ecommerce websites, thanks to platforms like Shopify. Advanced filtering options allow customers to narrow down products based on my precise criteria. These processes, i.e. filtering, searching and simply browsing a website via the main navigation menu are all part of online product discovery. But it doesn’t end here – the internet provides a whole range of ways to get your products in front of your target audience. 

Problems with ecommerce product discovery

The digital world has become highly saturated – consumers are inundated with content every time they pick up their smartphones. Competition is therefore tough, making it difficult to get your product in front of target customers before your competitors, and make it stand out. There is also often a gap when it comes to what people want to purchase and what they actually find. There is so much inspiration online, but sometimes finding a product you’ve seen online can prove difficult. This is why it’s so important to ensure you’re taking all of the necessary steps to make the discovery process simple and straightforward. It’s not enough to just post a photo online – you need to make the product accessible and instantly purchasable. Customer expectations are higher than ever before – they want convenience, speed and clarity. 

How customers find products online, and how to aid the discovery process

Social commerce

Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest have long had ecommerce functions, with TikTok planning to follow suit this year. This means that your customers can purchase directly from social media if they wish, or may discover a product through a social media post that they then purchase directly from your website. Social commerce erases the need for multiple steps that may be off putting to potential customers. Because of this, social channels are becoming the go-to platforms for product discovery, so it may be time to ensure your feeds are up to scratch. 

Product pages

You may think that by the time a customer reaches a product page on your website, your work is done. But product pages can be a great way to get other products noticed, whether it be because they’re similar or are relevant to previously viewed products, thus providing opportunities to up and cross-sell. Most ecommerce platforms will allow you to add a section to a product page, usually near the bottom, where you can link to other products. This section is generally titled ‘You May Also Like’ or ‘You May Also Need’. 

Inspirational content

Product discovery often takes place through both on and off site content. Whether your product is discovered through placement in a popular publication, a review or through your own blog posts, informative copy that inspires is very important. It’s worth bearing this in mind when it comes to your content marketing strategy – if this is the first time someone has heard of your product, you need to leave a lasting impression and spark action. 

A good website

Your website can aid product discovery in a number of ways. Your homepage is your shop window, so to speak, so ensuring this looks professional and enticing is vital. You can use it to showcase your latest products and collections, as well as any seasonal campaigns you may be running. 

Your filtering and navigation should make it as easy as possible for your website visitors to discover products by finding their way through your website and refining their searches, whether it be by size, colour or filters more specific to your products/industry. Your website should also be optimised for mobile, as the majority of customers now use mobile devices for online shopping. 

Your site architecture also puts you in the best position to rank in search engines for keywords that are being searched by your target customers. 

Looking for expert advice on your ecommerce strategy? We’d love to chat! Send us a message and we’ll be in touch. 

Written by Andy

Andy is Venture Stream’s Chief Operating Officer and has over 15 years’ experience in ecommerce consultancy, design and retail marketing.

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