How do search result rankings influence the online grocery shopper?

Time, money and energy – these are the three things that consumers want to save when they make the decision to shop online for grocery products. This is why, according to a recent white-paper by BrandView, a remarkable 73% of online shoppers only look at the first page of results on retailer websites when they are searching for a product.

I searched for 'Cola' on ASDA's website to give an example of product visibility and here is the first line of results:

As you can see, three of the products on the first row are Coca-Cola, but one of the products is Pepsi Max. There are many reasons why the online shopper maybe influenced to choose Pepsi over Coca Cola as a result of this. Firstly and most obviously, at first glance the pricing suggests that Pepsi Max it significantly cheaper - it is only 98p compared to Coca Cola's £1.85 bottle. Although Coca Cola actually has a promotion, offering 2 bottles for £2, the pricing at the bottom is what catches the eye of the online shopper, as it is right above the “add to basket” button. Secondly, PepsiMax has a five star rating compared to no reviews/visibility of reviews for the Coca Cola products, (not to mention the fact that the stars seem to stress the price and make it stand out from the other products’ pricing) Thirdly, for those who are taking the time to compare the promotions advertised in the red boxes – offering a 'price lock' may appeal more to the online consumer who is looking for consistency in low pricing that can be added to their 'favourite items' for their next online order.

According to the same white-paper by BrandView, the typical online shopper who is in a rush is less likely to think about their personal preferences and more likely to base their choice on what they notice first when they are searching for products. A couple of interesting questions to ask at this point would be – How has PepsiCo achieved this prime position right in the middle of Coca-Cola's products? And secondly - Are consumers who are usually loyal to the world's number one brand actually adding PepsiMax to their basket instead of Coca-Cola as a result of this positioning?

To answer the first question, the most basic thing that every brand should be aware of, as you can see in the screenshot above, is that search results are based on product 'relevance'. So, how is Pepsi Max one of the most 'relevant' results to a search on 'cola'? Well, the majority of retailers follow the standard algorithms for search results – product name, category name, hidden product tags and the description section of the product page. For example, PepsiCo has described its product as a 'Low Calorie Cola Flavoured Soft Drink with Sweeteners' . This short and simple description fits the criteria perfectly – 'Cola' outlines the product name, 'Soft Drink' outlines the category name, and the entire sentence outlines the description on the product page.

For many brands, these e-commerce tactical considerations aren't being implemented as easily and straightforwardly as they ought to be. Brands are making mistakes in their product's imagery, descriptions and even the names of their products, which is causing them to lose the customer at certain points in their online journey, or worse still , choose one of their competitors. Here's an example of a Britvic's J2O drink on Tesco's website being labelled both as j2o and j20. BrandViews gives this example in their white paper and, as you can see here, it is still live on Tesco's website:

Premium product positioning is one of the most important factors to increasing your brand's online sales. So, if you'd like to learn more about how to ensure your product's key word search leads to your brand's products and/or the relevant category being accessed by the customer, then don't miss the opportunity to hear from Bruce Dove, President of BrandView and Karen Pike, Product Positioning Manager at BrandView at My Digital Grocery Shelf 2015, taking place on 18th June 2015 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Victoria, London.

At the event, BrandView will also be joined by leading retailers in the UK, such as ASDA and Waitrose and other product positioning experts such as Brand Bank and MySupermarket . The e-commerce expert speakers will be teaching brands how to increase their product's visibility on the digital grocery shelf and, consequently, increase their online sales. For more information about My Digital Grocery Shelf 2015 visit the website here or contact me directly on

Recent Posts