Why the digital shelf is key for eCommerce analytics providers

March 14, 2022

eCommerce analytics providers must understand the digital shelf insights brands and retailers need to grow their online businesses.

These are revealed in our new report, which pinpoints three eCommerce insights being demanded and the under-utilized data needed to build them.

The importance of the digital shelf

The growth in ecommerce is amplifying the importance of insights into how products are positioned, priced and sold online.

Analytics providers play an important role in supplying these insights to brands and retailers. However, to do this effectively they need to harness all the data they can on their customers’ digital shelf.

The term digital shelf is used to describe all of the touch-points consumers experience in their online shopping journey. It includes how they research, discover and buy products and brands online.

Similar to a physical shelf in brick and mortar stores, the digital shelf is where consumers go to select the products they want to buy. This includes any digital channel where shoppers can find and view a brand’s products and make a purchase. It encompasses retailer or brands’ own ecommerce sites as well as marketplaces and mobile apps.

Just like a physical shelf, the digital shelf encapsulates how products are displayed. This spans an item’s on-shelf appearance, including the quality of the online content, product information, pricing and promotional details, as well as availability.

However, the digital shelf accentuates other aspects of shopping such as product discovery and customer feedback. As consumers are faced with ever-more choice online, the emphasis has increased on how shoppers research and find products, as well as their interactions with ratings and reviews – both of which have been shown to have a strong influence on customers’ purchase decisions and propensity to buy.

The insights analytics providers should focus on


Insights collected from the digital shelf can help to improve a product or brand’s share of search or discoverability in a retailer’s category listings. That’s key since improving rankings can win more visibility for a product, drive traffic and increase sales. Digital shelf insights also enable retailers and brands to benchmark their search performance against competitors and make any necessary adjustments in order to optimize their search strategies. In addition, insight from the digital shelf can be used to help retailers and brands pick out those products which may be undiscoverable online. Discoverability is therefore the first step in the online journey where analytics providers need to be helping brands and retailers.


Digital shelf insights can inform a retailer or brand’s pricing and promotional strategy which can be critical for maintaining a competitive edge and protecting profitability. Equipped with insights from the digital shelf, analytics providers can provide real-time pricing visibility on ecommerce sites, alert brands to MAP (Minimum Advertised Price) violations, as well as provide competitive intelligence.

Product content

Retailers and brands want to be able to create compelling online content that converts into sales, as well as ensuring it adheres to brand guidelines. Analytics providers can provide that intelligence through data extracted from product pages. This can be used to improve a brand or retailer’s online presentation, ensuring their content works harder and that it is both consistent and compliant. As product pages are ranked as one of the most important influencers in purchase decisions and customer conversion rates, it’s paramount that brands and retailers optimize their product information. As mentioned in our full Digital Shelf insights report, there are product page insights which are often overlooked but impact a customer’s decision to purchase, such as shipping and delivery costs, the seller’s top picks and location-specific delivery modalities.

Ratings and reviews

Digital shelf insights don’t stop when the consumer clicks ‘buy’, however. They also span post-purchase customer interactions such as ratings and reviews. Insights from these pages are key. Consumers increasingly value peer recommendations, with research showing that 93% read online reviews before making a purchase. By providing digital shelf insights, analytics providers can help brands identify underachieving products – those lines which are poorly rated and reviewed – and assist in assortment planning. By the same token, positive ratings and reviews can help inform new product development or brand extensions.

What digital shelf data could you be missing?

In today’s digitally-influenced world, understanding and winning control of the digital shelf is critical to drive retail performance and sales.

Just as brick and mortar stores can connect physical shelf metrics with resulting store sales and category share, eCommerce operators can capture what consumers see and do on the digital shelf and link it with online sales in order to improve their online performance.

To build the best digital shelf insights for brands and retailers, analytics providers need to make the best use of the eCommerce web data available. Read import.io’s latest report to learn more about the key digital shelf insights being demanded and the overlooked areas to get this data.

As the experts, we have plenty more knowledge to share

2022 Digital Shelf Trends: The Overlooked insights – Webinar Recording
Report: The insights to own a brand’s presence online
2022 Digital Shelf Insights Report