Higher conversion through digital shelf analytics

Author: Jürgen Burger

published on: 14.02.2024

In the last article on "Feed Management", you will find information on how the entire e-commerce market has changed in recent years: The number of digital retail spaces has increased exponentially, and sales via digital channels have become hugely important. These include:

  • own website(s) and/or webshop(s)
  • Stores of resellers
  • purchasing platforms
  • general marketplaces ("everything stores" such as Amazon, eBay, Alibaba)
  • Specialized marketplaces ("multi-category marketplaces" such as Zalando, Limango and "specialist marketplaces" such as Manomano, Douglas)
  • Comparison portals (e.g. idealo, Check24)
  • Search engines (e.g. Google)
  • Product search engines (such as Google Shopping)
  • Social networks

The number of digital channels used by individual companies to sell their products has increased significantly. At the same time, competitive pressure on marketplaces has increased significantly due to the growing number of (global) competitors, the harmonization of product ranges and high price transparency. This means that in the so-called "digital shelf" - as a virtual image of the physical shelf in the stationary store - there are many other comparable products alongside your own product. It is becoming increasingly important to present one's own products particularly well and thus stand out from the competition so that they attract positive attention and are ultimately purchased. This also improves the image of the brand and the overall online shopping experience. Positive product presentation includes, for example, a correct name, meaningful descriptions, (preferably several) images in the right order, error-free features and, of course, a competitive price.

The problem is that most digital sales channels are external platforms. For companies, this means that they only have limited influence on the use and presentation of product data, despite it being provided via a data feed. While the product presentation in their own webshop can be 100% controlled, this is not possible with external platforms; the product presentation is under the control of the respective operator.

Companies do receive stock counts and sales data from the operators, but usually not in real time.Furthermore, they do not contain valuable category-specific data (such as total category sales, price benchmarks or competitive information).

Against this background, it is obvious that companies have an increasing need to take the monitoring of the actual product presentation into their own hands in order to be able to react with an adapted provision of product data if necessary.However, doing this manually is usually simply impossible due to the large number of products and channels.This situation has given rise to a new field of solutions called "Digital Shelf Analytics" (DSA for short).DSA solutions pursue the declared goal of monitoring the product presentation on external digital sales areas, gaining insights from this and deriving improvement measures from this in turn. For this purpose, DSA applications usually collect data on product content, prices, promotions, stock availability, search results, ratings and reviews.

You can find an overview of DSA solutions in our Navigator. These include both stand-alone solutions and those that are part of a more comprehensive overall solution.

These are the core functionalities of Digital Shelf Analytics:

  • Information procurement: In order to be able to carry out analyses, data from the channels is first required. This can be obtained in two different ways: either the data provided by the channel operators is used.However, this obvious approach has several disadvantages:Firstly, the data provided by the channel operators is standardized and individual requirements cannot be taken into account.Secondly, the data provided typically does not cover all information requirements; for example, information on competitor products is missing. In addition, some of the data is probably incorrect; for example, a product may be displayed as "fully online" although only some of the images provided are displayed.The technology used to obtain more comprehensive and up-to-date data are bots or crawlers that extract data from the identified digital channels in a targeted and regular manner ("scraping"), structure it and store it centrally. Some DSA providers carry out the scraping themselves in order to be able to respond to customer requirements as flexibly and independently as possible, while others obtain the scraping data from third-party providers.
  • Analysis: This is followed by an automated evaluation of the collected data and the provision of key figures in dashboards.
  • Automation: Ideally, the mere display in dashboards is supplemented by rules and automation. These can, for example, ensure that an e-commerce manager is automatically informed if a product is not displayed on a channel. Automatic price adjustments based on certain events (e.g. competitor product not available) are also conceivable here.
  • Data provision: Good DSA solutions also offer the transfer of the collected data or the determined key figures to peripheral systems and can therefore be integrated into more comprehensive processes.

Specifically, many aspects of product presentation can be taken into account and optimized with the help of DSA:

  • Product content (e.g. correct, up-to-date and complete product texts, appealing and meaningful images/videos, optimization for high conversion and low return rates, adaptation of the product description to the main features often mentioned in customer reviews, etc.)
  • Prices (e.g. competitive prices through dynamic pricing, high placement in price comparison portals, etc.)
  • Product range and availability (e.g. product is online and available, product range differentiation from the competition)
  • Placements/rankings (e.g. high placement in search results, winning the Amazon Buy Box or comparable placements)
  • Ratings/reviews

In a nutshell, DSA offers the following advantages:

  • With a DSA solution, it becomes possible to comprehensively and permanently monitor product ranges with millions of products on all relevant channels. Time-consuming manual spot checks are no longer necessary; instead, the responsible employees in the company are enabled to plan and implement measures based on analyses in order to rectify errors or to optimize the presentation and positioning of the products in a targeted manner and thus align them better and better with the customers.
  • By optimizing the product presentation and/or the targeted use of retail media, the visibility of products in search results can be improved.
  • A more consistent and high-quality product presentation across all channels used protects the image of the brands.
  • In addition, improving product information can help to reduce the returns rate and increase customer satisfaction.
  • As early as 2022, Gartner analysts assumed that companies would be able to reduce their previous costs (for manual data collection techniques) by 30% annually by using DSA applications (see Market Guide for Digital Shelf Analytics, published on 15.11.2022).
  • Ultimately, DSA enables an increase in reach, conversion rates and sales.

The quintessence:

DSA is a topic that all companies that use a relevant number of external digital sales areas and want to "populate" them optimally need to address.

If you are seriously considering this and want to introduce a DSA solution, you should pay particular attention to whether sufficient depth of analysis is possible and what integration options are available when selecting a provider.

The integration of a DSA solution with other solutions is a topic to which we will dedicate another blog article due to its importance. In our next article on "PIM + Feed Management + DSA - The dream team for product sales via digital channels", you can find out exactly what this can look like and what advantages it offers.

  • As a result, from the perspective of the individual companies, the number of target systems to be "fed" has already grown considerably and will continue to increase.
  • This in turn means that the number of required product data feeds is increasing significantly, so that the need to manage them efficiently is growing.
  • In addition, each recipient of product data feeds has their own unique requirements in terms of structure and content. These individual requirements change more or less frequently over time, forcing feed creators to make regular adjustments.

As a result, more and more companies are required to create high-quality and different product data feeds for an increasing number of platforms, keep them up to date and provide recipients with up-to-date information on a regular basis and as quickly as possible. This results in an exponentially growing effort for companies.

How can product data feeds be created?

There are basically three ways to create a product data feed:

  • Manual: Based on a data export from a previous system, content and formal adjustments are made to meet the requirements of the target system. This process has to be repeated for each target system and each update and is therefore error-prone and labor-intensive.
  • Individual integration: By creating an individual interface between the source system(s) and the target system, an attempt is made to eliminate the above-mentioned problems (error-prone and labor-intensive). The problem here, however, is that with an increasing number of target systems this leads to considerable effort for the creation of the interfaces; on the other hand, the requirements of the target systems change again and again, so that the interfaces have to be adapted reactively.
  • Use of feed management solutions: In recent years, an independent functional class has emerged with which product data feeds can be created and managed and which positions itself as middleware between delivery systems (such as PIM or MDM systems) and the target systems. The corresponding functionalities are sometimes expressed as a module within an overall solution, but sometimes also as an independent system. You can find an overview of the best-known of these solutions in our Navigator.

 The core aspects of such feed management solutions are

  • Turnkey integrations: Feed management solution providers have a varying number of standard integrations to target systems. With some of these, over 1,000 target systems can be connected "out of the box". This means that individual (and therefore lengthy and expensive) integration is no longer necessary for users, and additional platforms can be connected "at the touch of a button".
  • Automated connection: Channel managers can initially set up a product data feed for each target channel without any technical knowledge and then benefit from an automated connection. Changes to the product data, the onboarding of new product ranges and products, as well as new data requirements from the platforms can be implemented quickly and easily by updating the product data feeds.
  • Quick adaptation to specification changes: Individual platforms have different technical and structural requirements for data feeds. Good feed management solutions therefore also take into account the possibility of adapting feeds to meet the technical specifications and requirements of different target systems. Ideally, the providers of feed management solutions are in close contact with the platform operators in order to learn about and anticipate specification changes at an early stage.
  • Product data optimization: The use of platforms requires individually prepared electronic product catalogs, as each platform has different requirements for the necessary attributes, image formats and data hierarchies; for example, the length of product titles, product descriptions or image formats as well as the availability of individual items must be prepared differently in each case. When setting up a specific data feed, the system ideally provides information on the requirements and content guidelines of the respective platform. In this way, feed management systems contribute to the optimized provision of product information. Knowledge is also documented in the feed management system, which avoids personal expertise and the associated risks.
    Bei preissensiblen Produkten kann das sogar automatisch nach Regeln und ohne manuellen Eingriff erfolgen.
  • Updating information: Product features, prices and availability are constantly changing. Effective feed management therefore ensures that data feeds are regularly updated to provide accurate and up-to-date information on the platforms.
  • Price optimization: Feed management systems support channel managers in determining the optimal sales price based on price analyses on the marketplaces. This type of "dynamic pricing" makes it possible to determine the best price at all times based on freely adjustable rules, available stock levels and comparisons with competitor products. For price-sensitive products, this can even be done automatically according to rules and without manual intervention.
  • Further analyses: Feed management solutions also offer, at least in part, the option of transferring, evaluating and visualizing key figures (such as reach, conversion rate, turnover) from the connected platforms in the feedback channel. This enables channel managers to identify areas where action is required and, if necessary, initiate improvements. They can also see how their products are positioned on various marketplaces compared to competitor products and are able to react accordingly. This enables part of what is usually addressed today with the term "digital shelf analytics".

The main advantages of a feed management solution are therefore:

  • Reduced effort: the effort required for the initial creation and ongoing updating of product data feeds for the desired target systems is significantly reduced.
  • Shorter time to market: Thanks to the high degree of automation, changes to products and new products can be transferred to the target systems much faster and made available for sale there.
  • Easier access to new channels: The use of standard integrations makes it possible to present and sell your products very quickly on additional marketplaces.
  • Improved data quality: Both the knowledge of the individual specifications of the various marketplaces and the opportunities for improvement based on analytics findings help to improve the quality of product information.This in turn improves findability, presentation and ranking on the platforms.

Ultimately, all of these benefits contribute to higher sales tracking and greater returns.


Product data feeds are a proven and effective means of providing product data to target systems. By using feed management, companies can work more efficiently and at the same time increase their online sales success.

A prerequisite for the efficient use of a feed management system is integration with a data-supplying system that can provide structured, granular product information - i.e. a PIM system.

The addition of the "Feed Management" function class to a PIM system makes sense for all companies that want to present and sell their products on an increasing number of platforms. Deep integration enables seamless end-to-end processes with a high degree of automation. More on this in our upcoming blog articles on the topics of "Digital Shelf Analytics" and "PIM + Feed Management + Digital Shelf Analytics - the dream team".

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