What is the digital shelf? How does it impact your eCommerce business?

Mastering the digital shelf is the key to success in eCommerce. It influences how your customers perceive your brand, what they buy and ultimately, how much profit you make.

But what is the digital shelf? And what aspects should you focus on to ensure eCommerce success?


What is the digital shelf?

Think of the digital shelf as a physical shelf that displays products — but in an online environment. It’s all the digital touchpoints a consumer interacts with to research and purchase a product.

The digital shelf is one of the most critical aspects for brands wanting to succeed in eCommerce, so it’s essential you understand these aspects and get them right.


Achieving digital shelf success

A successful digital shelf is about offering the right products to the right person, in the right place, at the right time. It sounds simple, but there’s so much more to consider.


Product imagery

It’s simple — your customers won’t buy your product if they don’t know how it looks. In the physical environment, shoppers can handle, touch and even smell your product, which all contribute towards whether they make a purchase.

That’s why product imagery is so important. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. What would you want to see? Capture your product from every angle, showing textures, shapes, colors and close-ups where appropriate.

Better images generate more sales. 75% of people said product images were ‘very influential’ to whether they made a purchase, with 22% saying they returned items because they looked different in person.


Product descriptions

81% of retail shoppers conduct online research before buying, so make it easier for them! By having all the information in one place, consumers are much more likely to make a purchase.

That’s where the product description page (PDP) comes in. It’s a one-stop shop for everything there is to know about your product. Give your customer as much digestible information as possible to make an informed purchase.

PDPs can include imagery, written descriptions, ingredients, links to other products, and ratings and reviews.

It's also important to think of the whole buying experience here. What devices are shoppers using? Do you have a physical store? Creating a seamless shopping experience is key.


Ratings and reviews

Regarding digital shelf and eCommerce success, we can’t stress how important ratings and reviews are. The stats speak for themselves:

Make sure your ratings and reviews count. Offer the opportunity for reviews through the product page, follow-up emails or dedicated review sites.

More importantly, if you experience negative reviews, rectify the issues. Ratings are often the crunch point for whether a customer purchases from your brand.


Price and promotions

The pricing aspect of the digital shelf is arguably the most important. Pricing competitively is essential to increasing sales, enhancing profitability and cementing your reputation. If you’re overpriced, shoppers will go to your competitors. If you’re underpriced, sales will rocket, but you won’t make any profit.

Promotions and offers are also a crucial part of the digital shelf. Promotional activity drums up interest and increases purchases, meaning customers are more likely to shop with you again. 

Collecting data is essential here. You’ll need to monitor price volatility and your competitors’ pricing so you can set your prices accordingly.


Stock availability

Tracking stock availability is essential when considering the digital shelf. If there’s no stock for the customer, they can’t make a purchase.

Monitoring stock levels is essential to preventing prolonged periods of out-of-stock (OOS) items, which can make your customers go elsewhere. Track the data and replenish stock appropriately.

It’s key to note here that OOS products aren't the end of the world. If it’s a product in high demand, then the chances are it will sell out. Use this as an opportunity to generate leads and get your customer's details — create back-in-stock sign-ups and negotiate deals with suppliers that give you exclusivity of a product over other retailers.



43% of shoppers use the search bar first when they visit a retailer’s website and are 1.8 times more likely to convert. You can see why your search function's design, functionality and accuracy contribute to your digital shelf's success.

SEO is just as important. Getting your products on the shopping tab, at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) and in front of the customer ultimately increases their likelihood of purchasing on your eCommerce site.


PPC and paid ads

Whether it’s paid social ads, Google shopping ads, display ads or anything in between, the more exposure your products get, the higher your revenue.

When it comes to your digital shelf, it doesn’t start and end with your eCommerce site. You need to adopt an omnichannel approach, covering search engines, social media, on-site ads or even traditional methods such as out-of-home (OOH) advertising.


Making the consumer the focus

While it’s crucial to consider all the above aspects, the consumer is the overall determining factor of your eCommerce success.

Your primary aim is to get customers to buy your products. If your product isn’t being served to the customer correctly through your digital shelf, this will damage profitability, sales and your reputation. That’s why you need to make the customer your primary focus. However, there’s very rarely a one-size-fits-all solution. Make sure you have a target audience in mind, then devise a digital shelf strategy that meets the needs of your ideal customer.

By catering to your target market, you’ll be able to personalize the customer experience and keep up with their ever-changing needs, enhancing the chances of a sale, positive reviews and repeat custom.

As you can see, there’s so much more to eCommerce than simply listing your products on a website and hoping they sell. The digital shelf is driven by precise strategies, analyzing data, understanding your market and catering to your customers.


Mastering the digital shelf

Are you ready to become an expert in the digital shelf to harness the opportunities of the eCommerce landscape? Then we have the course for you.



Our digital shelf training course teaches you everything you need to know how to gain a competitive edge, drive online sales and optimize conversions.

Start your eCommerce journey today.

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