Why Your Advertising Needs to Shift from “Drive to Store” to “Drive to Cart”

By Jeff Bander, Head of North American, Eye Square

A recent Fortune article examined some of the eye-popping statistics surrounding the growth in eCommerce in 2020. Driven by changes to consumer behavior as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, major U.S. retailers saw double-digit increases in eCommerce sales. After boosting its online business by a whopping 79% in 2020, Walmart is expected to bring in $64.6 billion in eCommerce sales in 2021.

Amazon will sell six times that amount.

You read that right. Even as retailers across the world dramatically increase their online sales, Amazon remains the 800-pound gorilla in the marketplace. A 2021 report from eMarketer expects Amazon to increase its already-sizable market share from 39.8% to 40.4% of total U.S. eCommerce sales.

While brands have long been aware of Amazon’s dominance in online retail, they’re only just now coming around to the importance of Amazon to their business. Consumer habits have changed, and with shoppers valuing speed, convenience and availability above all else, brands must either find a way to stand out on Amazon or risk being elbowed out of a hyper-competitive market.

Standing out in search results with hero images

When a new customer searches on Amazon for new towels, a camera or a yoga mat, your product will appear in a list and be forced to compete solely on price and availability. However, brands can overcome this dog-eat-dog sales environment using hero images: banner advertisements that can be associated with specific search terms. The right eye-catching hero image can make a strong first impression, persuading shoppers to overlook other products that may be slightly more affordable.

Taking advantage of readable images

Are your advertisements working full-time for your brand, or are they taking the day off when it comes to search results? When advertising on Amazon, be sure to always use readable images that will be picked up and analyzed by machine readers. Amazon deploys specific tools that can detect text in images, which then allows the images to come up in the results of digital search.

Building a strong reputation through reviews

While consumers used to rely on word of mouth to inform their product decisions, the modern shopping experience includes millions of product reviews from a community of customers throughout the world. Online shoppers seek community validation in order to trust that they’re making the right decision, so having few reviews is nearly as bad as having negative reviews. Without a meaningful number of reviews, your brand will struggle to stand out against competitors: six five-star reviews will not stand up against six hundred four-star reviews.

Being clear on search terms

What are consumers looking for when they purchase your product? In the transition from in-person shopping to eCommerce, the context has shifted dramatically: your two-in-one shampoo and conditioner are no longer going to be viewed (and easily found) in the beauty aisle of the local grocery store. Clear search terms are essential to make sure that your product is seen by every single interested customer; do your research and cover all your bases.

Single and bundle options

One of the most common mistakes made by online retailers is not applying the advantages of in-person shopping to eCommerce. Case in point: brick-and-mortar stores know that one of the most effective ways to drive sales is by combining products that are commonly purchased together and offering the bundle at a discount. This tactic is just as effective on Amazon. While the shopping environment has changed, consumer behavior has not; make use of single and bundle options to increase the potential return on each conversion.

Amazon is likely to maintain its hold on the eCommerce ecosystem for the foreseeable future. A recent Wall Street Journal article noted that Amazon’s share of digital ad sales eclipsed 10% for the first time in 2020, a harbinger for the increased value placed on the platform by global brands. As we reach the Amazon tipping point, brands are left with two options: adapt or be left behind.