With online sales growth outpacing bricks and mortar and research showing that up to 70% of in-store sales are influenced by an online retailer search – the so-called ‘e-commerce halo effect’ – FMCG suppliers need to be addressing their e-category management strategy because it influences the shopping experience across all channels not just online.

A new White Paper from category and shopper management specialists Bridgethorne entitled Winning Online By Embracing E-Category Management also says that not enough suppliers are recognising how much e-category management differs from conventional category management and are therefore failing to build an optimum e-category capability.

“We can see that suppliers are failing to extend their category management skills to e-commerce, meaning that they are not building insights from online shopper behaviour in order to understand shoppers, retailers and categories more fully,” explains Clare Adames, Head of e-commerce at Bridgethorne.

“Success in the e-commerce space requires adapting to a different selling environment. Retailers will also be looking to their suppliers to demonstrate a clear understanding of online insight and shopper behaviour and how to grow their category online.”

This, adds Adames, demands a greater focus on defining online categories, category insights and the importance of optimising your ‘digital shelf’, all of which are as pertinent to existing products as they are to new product development.

“For example, 70% of people now access the Internet via mobile and this is growing at an exponential rate. Research shows that 56 % of consumers have used a mobile device to research products at home, 38% have used a mobile device to check inventory availability while on their way to a store and 34% have used a mobile device to research products while in a store. If the imagery and content of your products are not mobile friendly, then you are not ready for ecommerce,” continues Adames.

“Having an e-category management strategy in place where you work closely with the retailer will improve the user experience, making it easier for shoppers to find, select and buy your products. This will deliver the growth the retailer is seeking. Suppliers need to ensure they are not late to the party on this, with those who embrace this likely to gain an early mover advantage.”

Copies of the White Paper are available free of charge by emailing clare.adames@bridgethorne.com