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Nailing eCommerce Success:  Q&A with WD-40

May 12, 2022
Louis Rolfe
Written By
Louis Rolfe

The post-pandemic landscape has resulted in continued rapid growth for the DIY category. But with an unlimited product aisle on Amazon, Argos, and other home improvement retailers, how do your products stand out on the digital shelf? And how can you make sure your brand is getting its fair share of growth? Read the Q&A from our recent webinar “How DIY Brands Can Accelerate Digital Shelf Growth" with Philip Tweed, Development Director at WD-40. Watch the full recording here.

How has the pandemic influenced your business strategy?

Back in 2019, we were still debating internally whether eCommerce would be incremental to our traditional trade channels. We’ve always been a multi-channel business, with 60 distribution channels that are active in nearly all markets globally. But within the business, eCommerce was still an unknown entity. 

The pandemic has been a real game changer for us in terms of how eCommerce sits within the business. It’s proven to us that shoppers are really keen to see how our product ranges are displayed online, with all the rich information that appears on product detail pages (PDP), and it’s proved that eCommerce has delivered incremental growth.

We have data that suggests DIY shoppers are really influenced by digital and eCommerce content. And that translates into shoppers visiting stores: they research online, but they then purchase in-store (Research Online, Purchase Offline). A European Home Improvement survey suggests that 45% of home improvement shoppers are doing exactly that — researching online and then purchasing in-store. So, it’s not just eCommerce that your digital pages lift; they will positively impact your traditional channels as well.

Data from Forrester suggests that all retail sales are now 62% digitally influenced (see below).

WD-40 has seen sales of our “flanker” product (e.g. WD-40 Specialist) significantly over-index when selling on eCommerce Marketplaces versus our traditional channels (flanker products support WD-40’s most famous “Multi-Use Product”). This has helped prove that eCommerce is incremental to our existing business, which in turn has enabled us to gain more resources — both in terms of investment and in terms of people. Across Europe, we now have dedicated eCommerce individuals that are integrated within each country team.


What would your advice be to brands new to eCommerce?

WD-40 has been on a journey with eCommerce. We didn't know how successful we would be, but it's turned out to be hugely influential and a positive experience for the business.

How and where you allocate resources is really important as every business has resource challenges. Seven years ago, we started on the Amazon marketplace. We wanted to see what would happen with eCommerce alongside our traditional trade channels. 

We didn’t know how much time to spend on the Amazon account, so my first suggestion to anyone who’s on that journey is to learn by doing. Pick your leading marketplaces, but don’t get overwhelmed. Launch with a limited range and keep it manageable. 

Consider eCommerce exclusives to minimise conflict with other trade channels. Think about multiple packages, as well as mixed sizes and even exclusive bundles.


In your experience, what is the most important area to get right on the digital shelf?

That’s a bit of a trick question because I would say all of it! But when trying to win with organic search, it comes down to your product titles, bullet points and your product descriptions. I've seen research which suggests that for keyword content, the Amazon algorithm is 49% focused on the title and keywords within the product title, 27% is based on the descriptions you use, and 24% is based on your product bullets. 

If you're looking for conversion, you need to make sure your product images and your videos are sharp, calling out product benefits for shoppers who may not have the patience to read through hundreds of words in a product description.

You also can’t set it and forget it either, since eCommerce is always evolving. Not a quarter goes by without some changes on the various marketplaces. There's always something new happening. For example, our U.K. team recently noticed some changes to the product results page on Amazon. Shoppers can now scroll through a product’s carousel of images. This may inhibit click-through to the PDP, but equally it could be an opportunity for us to up our game and change those images in the tiles to try to drive higher click-through rates.


How do you deal with availability issues within your organisation?

We use the availability data we get through Profitero to adjust our activity, particularly our campaigns and AMS (Amazon Marketing Services) investments. When we see supply shortages suddenly coming down the pipeline, we will then pivot. We move our advertising towards SKUs that are more abundantly in stock to minimise ad wastage. We then let organic search take care of the demand that we can fulfil, as we attempt to smooth out the demand curve.

Availability data is shared between our eCommerce and Supply Chain teams on a weekly basis and with our wider country teams on a quarterly basis. These meetings are vital as they enable our eCommerce teams in each country to understand the bigger picture, and to highlight where they might have future supply issues. It also sparks some debate within the business as to how inventory allocations can be divided up, but also in terms of what emergency measures can be taken. For example, if stock can be repurposed across different trade channels. 


How do you decide what good looks like online?

There are three key steps for us: (1) Benchmarking; (2) Auditing; and then (3) Test & Learn. For benchmarking, we often look at adjacent categories to see what's been done well. We use these examples as inspiration for how we can improve our content and the look that we have on our product detail pages.

With regards to titles and bullets, we look to use reviews as a source of keywords. It's interesting to see how reviewers talk about how they've used our products. It gives us some insight in terms of where we can be pitching our features and benefits, and not just for eCommerce, but for other trade channels as well.



So what? Now what?

  • Leverage all the real estate on your PDP to drive conversion, whether online or in-store. Incorporate different types of imagery (out-of-box, lifestyle, in-use, etc.), videos and A+/enhanced manufacturer content (brand story, product comparison grids, product manuals, etc.) to help educate consumers about your brand, product and use cases.
  • Ensure content elements on your product detail pages meet benchmark standards. Profitero’s research shows that having complete, correct and compelling content on the digital shelf can boost sales, traffic and conversion. In fact, we found brands get an average sales lift of 36% on Amazon in the U.K. when adding videos to product detail pages (PDPs) to meet category benchmarks. Adding more images yields a 34% average sales lift.
  • Don't set it and forget it. Invest in automated tools — e.g., Product Information Management / Digital Asset Management (PIM/DAM); a digital shelf auditing tool like Profitero; etc. — to build a cost-effective approach to monitoring, measuring and refreshing your content at scale.
  • Prioritise which retailers and products to focus on and scale up from there. There are many demands on your limited resources. The real trick is identifying where you'll get the biggest bank for your buck. So, prioritising your retailers and conducting test & learns is a good strategy. You can then apply those learnings to additional retailers too.

Click here to watch the full recording of “How DIY Brands Can Accelerate Digital Shelf Growth" webinar with Philip Tweed, Development Director at WD-40.

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