Digital Shelf Optimisation: Take a Conversational Approach to Increase Conversions

5 min read

How e-commerce businesses and retailers optimise their digital shelf is crucial for increasing the likelihood of a purchase. Only 0.63% of digital users click something on the second page of Google and a similar behaviour was seen on marketplaces such as Amazon, indicating that e-retailers must strategically present their products for maximum exposure.

Today, consumers are continually bombarded by hundreds and thousands of products and are overwhelmed by choice. This has created an opportunity for e-retailers to take a conversational approach to digital shelf optimisation and deliver engaging, personalised, and immediate customer experiences that drive greater conversions.  

What is a Digital Shelf and Why Do I Need to Know About It?

The digital shelf is a virtual space where consumers can browse and purchase on e-commerce websites. These touchpoints allow consumers to interact with brands and products. Much as a physical store would place its promotions or highest profit items directly within a consumer’s eye line, the digital shelf aims to follow the same concept.

Digital shelf optimisation is the idea of optimising the presence of a brand or product on the virtual shelves, using a range of strategies to ensure the brand is easy to find, compelling, and visible.

Research has shown that 80% of clicks go to the first 3 products on major retailers’ search engines. This means that if you want to be in with a chance to stand out from the crowd, being in those top spots is essential. The same goes for products on your own digital store – while you might want to feature only a select number of products, you should find ways to give love to the rest of your portfolio as well. This you can achieve by sending personalised recommendations, abandoned cart reminders, flash sales notifications, and loyalty coupons via customer-preferred communication channels.

Why is the Digital Shelf so Important?

Just like in a shop, you want your products to be the most visible item to catch the eye of a potential customer. With the decline in physical shopping, it is easy for online stores to seem as if they are all offering the same product.

However, making your business stand out on the digital shelf can offer substantial benefits. The development of online shopping in the past few years has significantly increased, with more consumers than ever looking to the web for purchasing decisions. Recent reports tell us that 86% of consumers purchased fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) products both in-store and online, but only 14% chose to shop inside brick-and-mortar locations. Two years before, 81% of consumers had never even bought groceries online, for delivery or pick up.

The consumer’s decision-making process has also changed. The buying journey typically went from interest to research, then into consideration before finally converting to a purchasing decision. This was a standard route that most shoppers would take. Today, the linear path isn’t as common with a rise in impulse buying and uninformed decisions as well as several distractions between interest and purchase.

Research now shows that consumers will also reach out to an online platform to search for reviews and recommendations while shopping in a brick and mortar location. 81% of consumers stated that access to mobile apps is one of their top requirements for in-store shopping, while 74% said they will likely use a retailer brand’s app while shopping in-store. Maintaining that high spot on the digital shelf can help alert your customers to your products faster and often build customer trust before a purchase has even been made.

All these changes in consumer behaviour have led to an increase in the need to focus on your optimisation of digital shelf placements. Looking at the best strategies to place on the podium of e-commerce searches is crucial for today’s businesses.

The Conversational Approach:

Conversational marketing is a dialogue-driven approach to marketing that places heavy focus on customers. Businesses are pushing to implement this approach for its potential to increase customer engagement, improve customer experience, and revenue growth.

Conversational marketing is based on one-to-one interactions in real-time across a variety of channels. Chatbots and messaging apps, such as WhatsApp and Viber, are often used to personalise these interactions. This method allows a business to improve online customer experience by communicating and customising conversations.

Personalisation allows a customer to feel appreciated and valued, whilst timely notifications and immediate responses make them feel like a priority. Using a chatbot or messaging channel usually follows a more casual dialogue, allowing your customer to feel more relaxed and confident. All these benefits can lead to continued loyalty and customer sales, improving reputation, and a higher placement on the digital shelf.

Ways to Reach the Top:

Tip 1: Personalised Product Recommendations

To make your products visible to the target audience, you can reach out to them via their favourite messaging channel and offer product recommendations based on previous purchases. Surveys show that 39% of people agree they would recommend a company following a positive customer service interaction, meaning that not only can personalising your approach lead to continued customer loyalty, but it can also attract new customer leads.

Tip 2: Provide Immediate Assistance

More shoppers are now looking for assistance when shopping. This could be for product recommendations, product details, or even just help navigating the website. AI chatbots allow online platforms to assist shoppers with an immediate answer to questions, and 47% of customers say they are happy to go through the sales process using a bot. Chatbots are a great way to provide immediate customer assistance and scale up sales efforts without increasing your headcount.

Customer conversation automation

Tip 3: Win Abandoned Shopping Carts

With the average abandoned shopping cart rate reaching almost 70%, businesses must look for a way to gain consumers’ attention back to their purchases. Sending gentle and timely reminders can help divert attention back to decisions, and using chatbots in the purchasing stages can help customers answer any questions they may have regarding shipping, refunds etc. By taking a conversational approach to reducing shopping cart abandonment rates, brands can significantly increase conversion rates and ensure retention.  

Tip 4: Promote your loyalty program: When top-performing loyalty programs can boost revenue from existing customers by up to 25%, it is no surprise that businesses choose to implement them. By promoting your loyalty programs, customers are more likely to ‘log on’ for discounts, rewards, and value. With a higher number of returning customers, businesses can look at investing their profits on moving up the digital shelf. More customers also mean more reviews, making your products more visible in the digital landscape. Tracking these interactions for behaviour analytics can help target more direct advertising to consumers in the long run.

To learn more about this, read our 6 steps to building brand loyalty.


Making the most out of the digital shelf is essential for any e-retailer. Using tools such as AI Chatbots, SMS, WhatsApp, and Viber are great low-cost and time-effective ways to increase customer engagement, gain customer trust, and maintain customer loyalty.

Digital shelf optimisation should be one of the top priorities for any business hoping to gain revenue from e-commerce purchasing decisions so implementing the right tools to help with that, will not only to save you time and money but also maintain a clearer pathway for your customers, reducing distractions and focusing efforts where it counts.

If you are looking to enhance the communication aspects of your customer engagement strategy, get in touch with our expert team today.

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