With baby milk indexing as the #1 item in the online grocery baskets of first-time internet shoppers1, and baby food and diapers/nappies also high on the list2, it’s clear the online baby product category is a gateway to eCommerce shopping.
But what are the keys to success for brands retailers seeking to maximize online baby product sales and take full advantage of the opportunity? Here are 10 guidelines to consider:
Time savings and convenience. New parents are generally on overload, and online shopping for baby products can save them enormous amounts of time and energy. As Philip Walker, Senior eCommerce Manager at Danone Europe, observed when I spoke to him recently. “It’s not surprising that many parents turn to online shopping. After the birth of child, they’re exhausted and overwhelmed. New mothers are four times more likely to buy their groceries online than the average person.”
Emotional resonance. Products need to be regarded as safe and effective, part of the reason reviews are so critical in this category. What pleases one set of parents is likely to please another.
Discoverability. To maximize sales results, products need to be ranked prominently in a retailer’s search results. New data from BloomReach underscores that Amazon is the premier product search engine—with 44% of consumers reporting they start their product searches on Amazon, far more than on search engines or on other retail sites3. (And no wonder, 75% of consumers say Amazon does the best job of personalizing their shopping experience4).
Value. Clearly, this is always a factor in buying decisions, but all the more so when a baby has just been born, and consumption patterns adapt to support a growing household. Products and programs that help new parents feel good about their choices can help drive purchases. For the record, the average price for top 100 baby products on Amazon in the U.S. is $20.055, and £17.69 in the U.K. 6
Ratings and reviews. As mentioned, these are increasingly essential to a product’s success. Profitero’s Amazon FastMovers report shows that the top 10 bestsellers in the baby products category averages twice as many reviews as top 100 products as a whole7. Furthermore, for the top 100 bestsellers on Amazon on the U.S., the average review count increased by 5% from 1,363 in August 2015 to 1,434 in September8. A word of caution, though: Ratings and reviews can be a double-edged sword. Amazon had to go back to the drawing board after the launch of its Elements line of own-label diapers in early 2015—the result of an accumulation of unfavorable reviews.
Complete content. Product pages that feature benefits, ingredients, safety highlights and other information need to be complete, accurate and timely. They should also be branded and SEO-optimized, and the brand team should pay special attention to the content of the Amazon site. According to content26 co-founder Mark White, “Baby brands need to begin using content to create and maintain a great customer experience on their Amazon product pages or they will lose customer acquisition and sales opportunities.” It’s worth noting that even though a brand team may agree with this observation in theory, its resources may be stretched too thinly to keep content complete and current. According to content26, more than half (57%) of the top-selling baby brands on Amazon have invested in enhanced content on Amazon, but only 27.5% of baby brands have updated their A+ content within the past 15 months9.
Subscription eligibility. Since baby consumables like formula and diapers are highly replenishable, subscription programs like Amazon’s Subscribe & Save let parents “set it and forget it” and move on to the next parenting challenge (67% of diaper products on Amazon in the U.S. are currently eligible for Subscribe & Save10). And by locking a household into a given retailer and brand, sometimes for many months, these programs effectively remove them from the transaction-by-transaction competition within the category. Subscription programs have been so successful that some brick-and-mortar retailers are beginning to emulate them.
Deal-sharing sites. Many smart parents routinely consult deal-sharing sites such as Slickdeals. Astute marketers have had success planting promotions on this type of site, as well as social media sites that drive consumers directly to an online retailer’s site.
Secure packaging and optimized pack configuration. Baby formula and other products with leakage potential need special attention in order to minimize the risk of damaged product. Also, new programs such as Amazon Frustration Free Packaging help save packaging material and improve the economics of doorstep delivery for both retailers and brands. And consumers—they’re very happy with the easy-to-open packages. While programs like this are at first costly to implement, they hold the potential for significant savings over the long term.
Actionable intelligence. Cost comparison and product promotions are often cited by consumers as reasons for switching online baby brands11. To succeed in this environment, brands and retailers need to be able to monitor competitor pricing and promotions on a continuous basis, and gain real-time insights from this intelligence. It’s the best way to maintain a competitive edge in an ever-changing online marketplace where, as Walker states, “Both brands and retailers must think about how they can differentiate their online proposition to appeal to new mums and have strategies for locking in their lifetime loyalty.”
Keith Anderson is the VP of Strategy & Insights at Profitero. He leads the continuous innovation and development of Profitero’s online insights solution for retailers and brands, helping global companies gain a deeper understanding of their online presence to optimize both online and in-store sales.