x

READY TO BECOME A MEMBER?

Stay up to date on the digital shelf.

x

THANK YOU!

We'll keep you up to date!

Interview

The Fundamentals of Digital Shelf Excellence, with Lynsey Sweales, CEO of SocialB

There is no destination in commerce, only the journey. So the key is to get continuously better at the steps of the journey. Lynsey Sweales, CEO of SocialB, a International Digital Marketing & Ecommerce Agency based out of the UK, spends every day working with brands to get the fundamentals of digital commerce success right, with a sharp eye on winning share of shelf. Lynsey shared her experiences and processes for building brand personality, nailing SEO, and making the product page meet the consumer where they are.

Show Notes:

Set the Right Distribution Priorities:

https://www.digitalshelfinstitute.org/podcast/right-distribution-priorities?hsLang=en 

 

Transcript:

Peter Crosby:

Welcome to Unpacking the Digital Shelf, where we explore brand manufacturing in the digital age.

 

Peter Crosby:

Hey, everyone. Peter Crosby here from the Digital Shelf Institute. There is no destination in commerce, only the journey. So the key is to get continuously better at the steps of that journey. Lynsey Sweales, CEO of SocialB, an international digital marketing and e-commerce agency based out of the UK spends every day working with brands to get the fundamentals of digital commerce success right, with a sharp eye on winning share of shelf. Lynsey shared her experiences and processes for building brand personality, nailing SEO and making the product page meet the consumer where she is. So Lynsey, thank you so much for being on our podcast today. We're super excited to have you.

 

Lynsey Sweales:

Thank you, Peter. It's lovely to be here and lovely to meet you today.

 

Peter Crosby:

I look at the work that you do with SocialB. You work with brands across the globe. I know your agency is based in the UK, but you work with people across the globe, including a lot of Google's largest customers as official Google partner trainer. And so, these are such insane days in digital marketing, in e-commerce and commerce at large and the need to develop strategy. So all of that work is so important. So tell us what, as you work with all of these brands, what's top of mind for them as you connect with them and hear what the front-tos are of where they feel like they are and where they want to get? What do you see going on out there?

 

Lynsey Sweales:

Well, as I'm sure you can imagine, Peter, there are lots of challenges for organizations right now, and we work with FMCG brands and B2B and B2C organizations across the globe. Because we are talking about digital shelf today, I want to just focus on FMCG brands, and the things that are keeping them up at night at the moment, from me speaking to them and having worked with them for the last couple of years including COVID, has been very much growing category and share of the digital shelves, and also how to remain relevant and grow their business in what is a very disruptive space that is happening right now.

 

Peter Crosby:

Yeah. I'd love to check in with you a little bit, just as we record this and I think certainly when we publish it, there's just so much upheaval going on in the world right now. We're seeing e-commerce numbers come back to maybe more natural growth rates than the pandemic, but that's nonetheless an adjustment for the kind of environment you've been guiding them through to date. We have wars and inflation and supply chain issues. I'm wondering when you talk about a growing category and share in that context, are you seeing shifts even more recently in terms of how people are thinking about their strategy? How much of that is rising to the surface in your conversations?

 

Lynsey Sweales:

Lots, and all of that is rising to the top of conversation with the organizations we are up-skilling and working with. There's lots of things that are outside of their control, which sadly you've touched on, Peter. And also the consumers at the front and center of this. And we are trying to predict, where's the consumer going to go next? And with lots of the data that's been released this year, obviously COVID meant people had to purchase online, whether they wanted to or not. And so the FMCG brands and the manufacturers had to sell online and they had to get their head around that.

 

Lynsey Sweales:

And now when things have opened up in certain countries, humans like you and me have gone, "Actually I can go to the shops, right? Actually I don't want to go to the shops, but it's a novelty factor now and so I want to go to the shops." And so we've seen the figures, this rollercoaster ride a little bit. But as you've said, Peter, it will, I think, naturally balance itself out. And that doesn't mean the e-commerce and the digital shelf has gone away. It absolutely has not. But so it's thinking about, as an organization, how they can prioritize those areas, how they can react and how they can be agile. Agility in many of these organizations isn't a word they're generally familiar with because they are large global organizations, and being agile in that space just doesn't naturally tend to go together, I don't think, does it, Peter?

 

Peter Crosby:

I have perhaps heard of that concept. Yes. Turning ships is always a big challenge. But what I've started to see, and Lauren, you can chime in here, is a lot more of the silo breaking than we saw two or three years ago. I think as you started talking about in-store coming back and digital shelf and the consumer, when you put all those things together, you really have to present similar stories, content, content and interactions across all the touch points that a consumer might choose to interact with. And I think on both sides of the aisle, if you will, they're seeing that. And there's probably more than one aisle, if you think about it. Brand marketing and supply chain, they're all thinking about how do we make this work in the ... choose your term, omnichannel, multichannel, all channel environment?

 

Lynsey Sweales:

Yeah, absolutely. I think you've hit the nail on the head, Peter. Many organizations do silo it, but it doesn't matter where the consumer buys, as long as they buy from you guys, as long as they buy from your brand. So how can we make that as painless as possible for that person, and how can we be available online, offline and create that unified journey? Because it is now more fragmented than ever before.

 

Lauren Livak:

I think it's interesting when you talk about agility, when the word "agility" became a buzzword in e-commerce, it was like, "Okay, everyone needs to be agile." And everybody tried to take the same exact approach. They were like, "We need to do sprints, and we need to do this quickly, and we need to change our structure." And I think we've finally gotten to a place where people understand that agile is different for each organization. And they're starting to create teams. They're starting to create strategies that work for their definition of a big company.

 

Lauren Livak:

And they're finding their way and experimenting a bit, which I think is a good place to be at, rather than, "Hey, let's take this cookie cutter agile approach to how we should be working within the e-commerce space. Now let's figure out how it works for us and what that means for our consumer and getting a little bit more specific and personalized," which hopefully COVID has helped to explain to people and really demonstrate. But along those lines, Lynsey, as we're talking about that, with the ebb and flow and the change and everything that's happening in the world, what are some of the areas that brands should be focusing on? What have you seen to be helpful, some key themes there?

 

Lynsey Sweales:

So, some key themes I've seen, Lauren, there's a number I want to share with you today that I'm seeing consistently with especially the large brands trying to be agile in this non-cookie space that is, there is no set playbook. First of all is brand personality. Now we'll talk about probably more of that later because the people who are chipping away at the big brands are the smaller brands. And we'll talk about those later. But having a brand personality. Many of the big brands have been around for millions of years. And they've really sold off the back of their buying from a brand, buying from a trusted brand. But they have, in the nicest way, they have no personality. It's a brand, it's a trusted brand. And they've used that in terms of their buying power and people recognize that brand, but it's getting a bit dull.

 

Lynsey Sweales:

And so brand personality and having a personality and having a tone of voice and having a reason to buy is something that is really important, I think, from the consumer aspect. But linked to that is knowing your competitors. So linked to the first point is your competitors are different. Again, linking back to the many of the biggest brands in the world, they will normally be looking at the other biggest brands in the world. But it's not just those brands that they need to be competing against now. Many of the smallest brands, and I'll give you some examples in a couple of minutes, Lauren, are actually the brands that are taking some of the market share that didn't even exist back in mid 2000s. They've popped up from people's kitchens, from people's garages and are taking market share and are really disrupting that space. So the competitors are different.

 

Lynsey Sweales:

Also another challenge I'm seeing and have seen over the last 12 to 24 months and still now is some brands are still in this traditional retailer prioritization. So although they know that e-commerce is really important, it's what they do in that space. So if I speak to any retailer, sorry, if I speak to any FMCG brand and say, "What's important to you from a physical store," they'll say, "We go and do walkthroughs every week because we want to know what's at the end of the aisle where our product is, what the availability of the aisle." And then I say, "Okay, well how often do you do that in a virtual format?" And they're like, "Oh, we go and have a look at the product."

 

Lynsey Sweales:

Yeah. But take your brand hat off for a minute, put your consumer hat on, go and do some searches. Say you were looking for chili powder or say you were looking for dairy free cheese. Do you show up? Who else is there? So putting the importance of doing the digital walkthroughs to actually see how you appear. Because as you guys said, in terms of the overarching agility challenge, there isn't a cookie cutter approach. And the same when it comes to retailers, no retailer works the same. So if you want to be on that digital shelf, you need to do that digital walkthrough to see how you appear, not just that your product is there.

 

Peter Crosby:

And Lynsey, good, can I dig into that a little bit? Because I think that we've always, part of the reason why we've focused on the term "digital shelf" is that I do think there are deep practices, as you said, built up over, I don't know, about millions of years, but a lot of years, to optimize that experience for consumers and also for share and success. So the digital shelf is a way of going, "Are we putting that same level of energy into the digital shelf?" So when you think of digital walkthroughs, what's the process that you set up for them to do that? And what are the takeaways? Do you find that they do take away by product walkthrough, or are there overarching best practices they can develop just by looking at their own dog food, so to speak, depending on the product?

 

Lynsey Sweales:

Dog food, sweets, whatever they're selling. It's a really good question, Peter. I think it depends on who I'm working with, but I think the first thing I want to get them to do, and the thing I always talk about as soon as I work with a brand is take your brand hat off. Because you will know your product. You'll know where it is, you know where it appears and how it appears. But just take your brand hat off for a moment. And this is getting them to think like a consumer.

 

Lynsey Sweales:

And I say, "Right, okay, go and have a look at Asda or go and have a look at Walmart and do a search for a product that you last purchased." And it could be chili powder, dog food, gluten free pasta or something. "And do you appear?" So I just get them to walk through at that stage, and it's just to basically open their eyes to go, "Oh my God, we're not there" or "Oh, we are there. Yeah. Cool. Sweet. Okay." Well, okay. How about if I'm looking for inspiration? So the first stage I go through is basically just walking them through for them to go, "We're here. We're not there or-

 

Peter Crosby:

Are you even showing up?

 

Lynsey Sweales:

Are we even showing up? And I've done this with some big brands and they've gone, "This is a joke, isn't it? We're not there." And I'm like, "No, this is a real store. And if you're not there, then you're not there." Because it's though many of the leaders within this organization have been there for many years, and they're not digital native and there's nothing wrong with that. They come with oodles of experience. But just getting them to basically level set the playing field and just show them in a very non-technical way with the consumer hat on what that looks like, is it [inaudible 00:12:00].

 

Peter Crosby:

Yeah. It's demystifying the algorithm, essentially. The whole thing is just powered by an algorithm that doesn't really care. It just takes the data, right?

 

Lauren Livak:

And it's such a different concept because once it's on the internet, it's on the internet, right? That's not the way that we used to think about things. You would need to get competitor data, wait for benchmarks to come out. So it's a different way of thinking, where you're like, "I can see a window into my competitors, PDP, their reviews, what people think about them." So I love that mind shift that you have the opportunity to see what's out there so that you can compare or contrast.

 

Lynsey Sweales:

Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. So first of all, it's like opening up their eyes and saying, "Look, have a look." And then it's, "Okay, so how can we make the difference there? And how can you be there organically rather than paid, as an example?" And if it's the leadership team, it's then helping them to prioritize how to help their implementation team, because their implementation team, their e-commerce team, subject to what organization it is, they'll be called different things, but they'll often know what to do, but they won't necessarily know the prioritization based on profit or the bigger picture stuff. [inaudible 00:13:08]. Yeah, so helping them join the dots from that perspective to then help the leadership team, maybe help them prioritize what questions to ask the implementation team, or when the implementation team need to feed up to the key stakeholders on, "This is the insight we're seeing, or this is the opportunity we're seeing, or this is where there's a big missed opportunity, or these are the budgets we need."

 

Peter Crosby:

So you have the search level, but then you were talking about going to that next level of consumer question, when they're trying to actually get intelligence, maybe around the product or essentially the product page experience. Is that where you were headed next with them?

 

Lynsey Sweales:

Yes, absolutely. And just COVID has really highlighted to brands that they need to get their products online. And if you're talking about supermarkets, again, you're relying on the supermarket to actually list your product. I've worked with some retailers where they're in every store in the country, but then look online and their products aren't available. So they're like, "I didn't know they didn't sell our product online. We need to sort that out." So it's thinking about from a consumer perspective, just because you sell your product in store doesn't mean it's going to be available online. And if they have put you online, have they just cut and pasted what's on your product jar or on your packaging and put that online? Well, how useful is that in PDP listings? Not very helpful at all. That then links us into some of the other questions we're probably going to go through later in terms of enhancing those listings.

 

Lauren Livak:

I'm curious, do you have examples? You had said that you had some specific examples that might be helpful to illustrate maybe some of the areas that brands need to focus on. Would love to hear those.

 

Lynsey Sweales:

Yeah. So just to bring to life this example of brands that are doing really well in this space, the one that I often use with big brands and small brands is Sauce Shop. Sauce Shop was founded in 2014. It's a couple, James and Pamela who shared a passion for sauces. Now, there's some of the biggest retailers in the world selling sauces from Heinz to McCormick to Campbell to Del Monte. They're the sauce, the big guys as it were. But Sauce Shop had a passion for more flavorsome, more maybe high end sauces. And so in 2014, from their kitchen, they started creating sauces. From their kitchen, they went to selling in markets. And now they've got 34 chefs. They are selling in the likes of Sainsbury's, Co-op, Whole Foods, Amazon. Last year, I spotted that they did an exclusive product with Amazon that you could only get it on Amazon.

 

Lynsey Sweales:

They're bottling thousands of products a week and selling thousands of products a week. They've even now, I just spotted today, they've now done a bespoke sauce for the band, the Foals. So in terms of disruptive, they're not only taking market share from an Amazon perspective, but they're in the retail stores, which if I am one of those big brands, be it Heinz or McCormick, I would've probably been looking at the equivalent, but actually the brands that could never get in the supermarkets before, through this disruption of social media, through this disruption of now selling on Amazon, obviously Sainsbury's and Whole Foods are looking at this brand and going, "Hang on. If they're in demand on Amazon, I want them in my store." So actually it's, these digital native brands are not only disrupting the digital space, they're disrupting the bricks and mortar space as well and taking more of that market share.

 

Lauren Livak:

I think that really speaks to omnichannel or whatever word you decide to talk about, right? It's not about just selling on e-commerce and being successful there because to your point before, it's now we can go back to stores. Now we can think about that. And now we've swayed away from just looking at straight e-commerce and we're looking at the holistic commerce picture. So I love that example because it really illustrates it very well.

 

Lynsey Sweales:

Yeah. Yeah. And just to add to that example, Lauren, big brands are looking at that type of thing. And a good example of that is Vegetarian Butcher. Vegetarian Butcher was a privately owned brand. Unilever purchased it, and they purchased it very strategically for a few reasons. One is first party data because they don't have any. Unilever didn't have any because they weren't selling directly to consumers. Second of all is the great brand personality. If you guys haven't heard of Vegetarian Butcher, I'd highly recommend you have a look at it because they have great brand personality. Second of all, the whole vegan, vegetarian market, if you look at the PR side of things on Vegetarian Butcher, they've done innovations with the likes of Burger King. So they're really disrupting that market to gain market share, gain insights, gain first party data and grow their business in strategic ways other than just their traditional brands.

 

Peter Crosby:

So when you're, this idea of brand personality, because I was hearing what you were saying, which is that the traditional idea of brand, the trust, the loyalty, the ubiquitous nature of it in the main TV market, so the commercials that you saw and on the shelves, there was sort of an ownership based on geography or reach that helped brands build that presence with consumers. It feels to me like brand personality is really something different or additive to that. I'm wondering how, when you're talking to a new customer about, "You need to get a brand personality," how do you lay that out to them? What does that process look like? Because it's not easy. You can't just turn a switch. So what's the development of that? I mean, obviously in a short podcast, you can't tell me the whole thing. But what is the essence that gets them willing to take that journey with you?

 

Lynsey Sweales:

Yeah. Brand personality isn't a two-minute job. It almost rewinds to actually who is your consumer? So these digital native brands like Sauce Shop have come from a place of, they saw a gap in the market. They weren't buying a sauce that they wanted, so they created their own sauce, or which is a bit extreme, but they identified a gap in the market and a thing that wasn't being created for them. So it comes from a very personal place of a consumer like, "Who is our consumer?" And because it came from a very personal place of James and Pamela, their pain point, they could bring it to life with their personal brand personality and understanding the wants and needs of their consumer.

 

Lynsey Sweales:

If we're now looking at it from a big business perspective, obviously they trade off their big names, and there's many great names out there that are very successful, but they don't have brand personality. For them to get to brand personality, the place they need to start is actually who is their consumer? Now this isn't who is their consumer demographic. Let's just look at myself, female, married, 42, one child, living in the country, has a dog. Yet we want to sell to her actually. What are her wants and needs? What are her passions?

 

Lynsey Sweales:

Then how can we reverse engineer that to create a brand personality that she goes, "Well, that's me" or "I really like that brand. I like a cheeky brand type thing." So it's almost, you have to know your consumer. And many FMCG brands haven't traditionally sold directly to consumers because they have relied on the bricks and mortar or Amazon of this world. So they don't really know who their consumers are, which is a big gap for them that they have to try and close. And that's where social media and other data insights and market research and stuff can really help. And that's a big gap. I've been working with many organizations over the last 12 to 24 months and ongoing as well.

 

Peter Crosby:

So when you've gone through that process with them, and then you start to think about how will the consumer discover that personality and connect to it, one of the big channels that matter now is the product detail page, is their experience on the digital shelf that they choose to engage with. And so when you leave that realm of brand personality, and here's the bigger picture thing we should talk about, when you walk them through the PDP and how do we make this come alive for the consumer, what are the things that you focus on?

 

Lynsey Sweales:

The first thing is SEO, search engine optimization because although the digital shelf is now bigger than ever, I could buy anything from anywhere if I wanted to that isn't available in my local store. So SEO is really important. Because if someone knows what they want, call it chili powder or something, then that's quite an easy SEO element, that's something that needs to be done and isn't always done when a brand's got thousands of SKUs. But linked to that, again, just taking your brand hat off and putting your consumer hat on for a moment, once we have done a search, whether it be something quite specific like chili powder or whether it be something as broad as rain wear, rainproof wear for my child, then what do we do next? Often we flick to the images. And a thing here that I often share with brands is about taking the product and the experience that someone has in a physical store and taking that into a virtual one.

 

Lynsey Sweales:

So the images, the text, the video, the reviews, they're all things, tangible things that as a consumer, we can use that information to find, or we can look at that image to go, "Yep. That's what I'm looking for." And it's not images about the front of the product and the back of the product. Obviously that's really important. But what are the barriers that product can help overcome? Because we might not read the text when we get to a product listing. We might want to look at the image and it's got the bullet points on it, for example. But also a video of that product of how it looks and feels. And also the reviews, like how many of us read the review as well before we do things? So it's all of those things that make up an amazing product description page, which does take a lot of work. And that's where brands are going, "Oh my goodness, how are we going to update all these PDPs?" It is a large amount of heavy lifting.

 

Lynsey Sweales:

And also the categories, because again, how many of us are gluten free? How many of us are vegan? How many of us are gluten intolerant? You need to make sure that those terms again are in your product description. And also inspiration. If I'm thinking about, I want inspiration about a winter stew, or if I'm thinking about sending my child to forest school, which I'll come onto as a good example in a minute, it's not necessarily product-led. It's sometimes inspiration-led from that aspect. So if people are very drawn to a product and they know what they want, that's great. But think about the earlier on in that journey, if someone's looking for inspiration, then how can your product description page, whether it be direct on a retailer or Amazon or direct on your own website, how can that be found?

 

Lynsey Sweales:

And there's two examples I'd like to give you guys here. One is from a skincare brand I worked with and just the importance of reviews. They had this amazing skincare product. Obviously I won't delve into particular details, but they had this skincare product. It was a sunscreen skincare product. And I was up-skilling them. And I was looking at their products, and their products were doing really, really well, but they were, I was up-skilling them on them. And I found a product, one of their skincare products, it was their sunscreen product. And I was looking at the reviews, and there was a consistent amount of good reviews on this product, where the term "acne prone" or "combination skin" was coming up. And they didn't have any of this on their product listing. So I went away and did some SEO research, and just in the UK alone, I believe, sunscreen for acne prone skin is searched on over 480 times a month. Now that's quite a specific term that people are searching for, which means they have high intent, means they're trying to solve a problem.

 

Lynsey Sweales:

So I shared this, not just with their e-commerce team but with their R&D team. And this is important why it shouldn't just be the product team or the e-commerce team or the leadership team are doing these walkthroughs. It should be your supply chain team to see how people are reviewing the product and saying the packaging is damaged, or your R&D team and your legal team. Because when I showed the legal team and the R&D team these reviews, I said, "What does this tell you?" They're like, "It tells us that actually we've got an opportunity here to take this product into a different area. So we can't just rename the description and say it's for acne prone skin because it's not tested on that. But actually there's a big opportunity here. We should take this into that space, do an R&D test on it and actually say it can be done for acne prone skin, and then relist it in that space as well." And hey, presto, you've got more of an opportunity. So that's one example.

 

Lynsey Sweales:

The other example I want to share with you is a bit more of a personal one, but isn't food, but it's clothing and is really a good example, I believe. I needed a rain set for my son. He was moving from a nursery to a forest school. We were in the height of lockdown, so I was just relying on the internet to decide what product to purchase. And if you do this wide search on waterproof rain gear for children, you get all of these products up. You can't touch it, feel it, so you don't know how hard wearing it is. A forest school is, needs to be really hardcore gear there because you're going to be getting holes in it in a few seconds, if you send a child with cheap rubbish. So I was having to carry out all this research.

 

Lynsey Sweales:

I ended up on this brand called Didriksons, which is a Swedish brand. And their product description page was amazing because it really came to me from a consumer perspective. Instantly it showed me how hard wearing it was. It instantly told me how waterproof it was. And it instantly told me how warm it was, so if I wanted to layer it up. And the product description, the images, the video, it overcame all of my barriers from an SEO perspective and also from a actually touch it, feel it perspective. So it took the physical product into a digital world really, really well. And guess what? I purchased it. And guess what? I gave them a good review. And guess what? I purchased more. So it then links into that whole consumer journey and how that PDP can make a massive impact. So hopefully just a couple of those examples there just really bring to life how it's so important from that aspect.

 

Lauren Livak:

Those are amazing examples. I mean, I love how you're talking about knowing the consumer. And I almost want to go a bit beyond that because when you say, "Know the consumer," I think a lot of people think, for example, that a female, of a certain age group, with a child, lives in this area. It's almost like who is the human behind the click? And what is their intention? What are their needs? What are they thinking about? How do they feel about these products? And I think that's the kind of double click into who is your consumer that you have to think about. And I think it's challenging, and I'd love to hear your thoughts here, especially for people who are early on in the journey. They just want to get the content online. They just want the page to be set up. They just want to be present. But taking the extra effort to really think about what are the needs that this product is trying to fill in for people can really give them a leg up. I'd love to hear your thoughts, especially for people who might be starting that journey.

 

Lynsey Sweales:

Yeah, absolutely, Lauren. I think it's also helpful for brands I've worked with recently. They have a global team and they have a local team, and this is also really highlighted for the global team, that you can have an overarching global strategy, but we do need some of the impact of the local people in your local market to understand those consumer needs. But you've highlighted the first one already, Lauren. It's not focusing on what product you want to sell. It's focusing on actually the consumer needs. And that's a big thing to get a brand's head around because if they don't know the consumer, how do they know what they need? So it is about taking that brand hat off and putting the consumer hat on. Now, the brand that I work for, I might not be the consumer that a person wants to buy, but we have so much digital insight available to us now as a brand.

 

Lynsey Sweales:

We can have a look and see what people are talking about on social media. We can go into the store and just listen. We can listen on the digital channels. There are so many data insights. And many brands, however advanced or non-advanced they are, might have carried out market research as well. So it's looking at those two things. Non-product centric, being consumer centric on the wants and the need. So that Didriksons example of that rain wear was a really good example because there were some questions there that I had in my head. Second of all is taking that brand hat off and putting that consumer hat on and always coming about it from a consumer centricity. And also it's then focusing on first party data, whether you sell directly or not. And many of the brands I work with don't sell directly to consumers. Some of them are dabbling at the moment. And a good example of that, even if you're not selling directly to consumers, is Maybelline.

 

Lynsey Sweales:

Maybelline didn't sell direct to consumer, but they didn't have any first party data and didn't want to sell direct to consumer either. So how they overcame understanding their consumer and first party data to guess what, help them understand what their consumers wanted, and then how they could target them and how they could advertise them and how they could create products that their consumers wanted, was what they created was QR codes on their products. So if and when I purchased one of their products, take a picture of the QR code as a loyalty scheme. It asks me a couple of questions, and guess what? Not only do you have first party data, which is good in a cookie-less world moving forward. But secondly, it's using that first party data for a reason, to understand who is my consumer? What are the challenges they have? What are the skincare problems that they have? What products are they buying?

 

Lynsey Sweales:

Because many makeup brands, food brands, other brands will know that they're selling so much product, but they won't know what other product that person is buying. And they won't know why they're buying that product. So if you don't know why they're buying that product, how can you market to that person? How can you create brand personality? How can you improve your PDPs? So quite a lot to think about there in terms of the organization and also involving the whole company, because supply chain needs to be involved, R&D and just getting them brainstorming and all of that to understand what that journey might look like and being more consumer-centric.

 

Peter Crosby:

Lynsey, to close out here, because we've been talking about a lot. And earlier on you mentioned people are like, "We have so many PDPs, what do we do?" You're sitting with a client. You've done this discovery work. There are all sorts of opportunities to improve. How do you help them get a sharp focus for the, we call it the maturity curve, the digital shelf maturity curve, but for the journey ahead? What are the ways in which you pull them together and build that, here's where you should start and here's where you go from? And what does success look like?

 

Lynsey Sweales:

Yeah. Okay. Again, a very good question. You're asking me lots of great questions today. It depends where they are on the journey. First of all, I'd say if you can get stuff, all your products listed very easily, then do that to actually test and learn and see what works. So just get them on, maybe not, obviously not PDP optimized, but just get them on in the sense that they are, to see what's in demand. But generally what you would then do is generally the 80/20 rule applies. So bear in mind then picking your power SKUs, your top SKUs, whatever you might like to call it. So bear in mind how you pick those, bearing in mind the store, the demand, the product size. And now I know Todd from Colgate-Palmolive covered this in one of your recent podcasts and will have gone into much more detail on this.

 

Lynsey Sweales:

But generally I look at it in three ways. First of all focus on your priority customers and the models. So build relationships where you can, understand where some of them are playing, with new initiatives. Like today, I posted on LinkedIn in the UK, Asda, who is, I believe, although they're a budget supermarket brand, they are the innovators in food retail, have been for many years. They have now just launched Buy Me, another app that allows you to get food in less than an hour. So focus on the priority customers models, where there is the most traction, where you can make that biggest difference. Second of all is to prioritize the investment. Now, prioritizing that investment doesn't necessarily mean money. It can be time as well. And then implement to win, so winning on that shelf, inorganic and paid, but not in all of your products.

 

Lynsey Sweales:

This is linking back to your top products that are in demand and going to, they might be even e-commerce exclusive products that you then develop in time. But until you list all of your products in the first instance, you're not going to necessarily know what's in demand and what isn't. But then applying what Todd shared on the Colgate-Palmolive podcast recently, in terms of the power SKUs, then the power SKUs, then doing the 1, 2, 3 approach, which I've just shared. But also keep an eye on what next? E-commerce, you have a couple of days off, and you come back and e-commerce has gone flying around the corner. You have to keep an eye on what's around the corner, voice probably being a very prominent one and that instant search and the disruptors, those ones in-demand apps that are coming thick and fast.

 

Peter Crosby:

Well, I mean, that's a great fundamental list of how to work your way through this process over time. And I also of course appreciate the shout out to a previous episode. So just for our listeners, yeah, the conversation with Todd from Colgate was great. And I think we'll leave the link for that podcast episode in our show notes, just so they can catch up on that conversation as well. But Lynsey, thank you so much for taking the time out to walk us through your engagement with brands and how to define a process that's going to continue to increase. Like you said, it's the fundamentals of voice and category growth on the digital shelf and then putting those, all of the omnichannel experience together. It's a lot of work, and I love the way that you described it. So thank you so much for joining us.

 

Lynsey Sweales:

Thank you. It's been lovely to chat to you and Lauren today. As the saying goes, you can't eat an elephant in one mouthful. It's one bite at a time. And that approach definitely works here in terms of winning the digital shelf.

 

Peter Crosby:

Well, that image is going to stick with me for the rest of the day. A pleasure. Thanks again to Lynsey for sharing your tales of digital shelf transformation in FMCG. To keep up on all things Digital Shelf Institute, swing over to digitalshelfinstitute.org to become a member. It's a big light blue button in the upper right hand corner. In the meantime, thanks as always for being part of our community.