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Analyzing the “Digital Shelf” – How Brands Can Use Online Product Information

Posted on 12.11.2016

:: By Dr. Suresh Divakar, Ugam ::


It’s no secret that technology has radically transformed the way consumers shop. According to Forrester Research Inc., online sales in the United States are expected to reach $523 billion in the next five years. This means that shoppers are increasing relying on digital product information before making a purchase, and it’s prompting brands to continuously assess how their products are represented online, and to keep a close eye on the competition. 

By analyzing their “digital shelf,” across different e-commerce websites, brands can better understand how their products are being showcased to customers online and figure out how to make improvements moving forward. Here’s what they’re looking at:

Product Availability 

By leveraging big data crawling, brands can check the availability of their products across online retailers and assess how their products are stocked versus the competition. In a recent study of skincare products, for example, we found that that Estée Lauder had a wider portfolio of skincare products available in Macy’s and Sephora’s online U.S. stores, compared to its top competitors. 

Product Reviews

Brands are able to gain a lot of shopper sentiment by taking a deeper dive into reviews across channels. In the same recent skincare brands study, we also analyzed the share of online reviews for each of the top competitors, finding that some brands were receiving a much higher share of reviews than others. 

Pricing Across Channels

It’s important for brands to maintain consistent brand value across online and offline channels. By tracking prices across online retail stores, brands can check if they are in line with expectations, and also keep an eye on how competitors price their products. Brands can also check prices at the product level to monitor for MAP (Minimum Advertised Price) compliance and promotions. 

Global Reach of Brand Portfolio

For brands that are managing their online presence on a global level, it’s wise to analyze product data to fully understand your products’ visibility cross websites in different countries. By taking a deeper dive into global product data, brands can see which products resonate most or least in particular areas, helping determine inventory levels and promotions.

Our skincare study observed that Lancôme, Clarins and Dior are the only brands with a strong online presence in Brazil – an important market for beauty and personal care products. Such a missed opportunity for the competition illustrates how important it is for retail brands of any types to be monitoring this type of data.

As digital continues to drive growth in the retail industry, it’s important that brands leverage freely available data to regain control of how their products are represented online. Big data analytics can give brands a clearer view of their online product portfolio, content, prices and promotions, and find ways to make improvements across their digital shelf. 


Dr. Suresh Divakar is the Senior Vice President at analytics firm Ugam. He leads Ugam’s analytics capability and is responsible for strengthening the company’s managed analytics offering. He has over 30 years of experience working with companies like Kraft, PepsiCo and Citibank, and heading the global analytics at Avon and Bristol Myers.

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