The 4Ps are now the 6Ps

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The 4Ps are now the 6Ps

The four Ps - product, price, place and promotion - have been at the core of marketing for decades. The advent of ecommerce means there are two more to consider: page and performance.

The original four still apply: "They're still very important," IRI ecommerce development partner Ruth Butler told Business IT. But companies that produce products - as opposed to merely selling products from other businesses - need to understand that ecommerce provides a new opportunity because "the digital shelf is unlimited" and they are no longer fighting for presence on finite physical shelves.

For example, you still need products that people will want to buy, and they must be available where and when those consumers look to buy them. It is important to make your full range available from each online outlet to take advantage of recommendation engines ("People who bought this product also purchased...").

Stock management is particularly important in the online world, as the effects of a two or three day stockout are felt for weeks, said Butler.

Price transparency is also important, because so many - nearly 80 percent - of shoppers research prices before buying, sometimes while they are in a physical store. So you need to know how much various retailers are charging for your products so you can avoid either charging more or undercutting your partners.

One approach is to make unique direct-to-consumer offers, for example by selling particular bundles of items instead of individual products. A pack of three soaps can be sold at a lower price than when purchased separately from a retailer, thus avoiding direct price competition while increasing your margin.

As for the new Ps, the first is page - the design and content of the web pages used to sell your products.

The goal is to connect with the shopper, even though they don't get a physical experience of the product as they would in a store, she said.

Images play a very important part. Multiple images should be displayed, but they shouldn't all be simple pack or product shots. For example, if you're selling shampoo, show it being poured from the bottle. If you're selling candles, show them alight in an attractive setting.

When it comes to the words, Butler's advice is to avoid being generic. Take the opportunity to describe the specific benefits of your product, what it is made from, and (where appropriate) how to use it.

Don't underestimate the importance of ratings and reviews, Butler counseled: "Ratings and reviews drive findability," so engage with shoppers - eg, through social media - and direct them towards review sites and also encourage them to leave ratings and reviews wherever they bought the product, whether that's your own site, retailers' sites, or (especially importantly) marketplaces such as Amazon.

"A lot of brands overlook this in Australia," she noted. "It becomes free marketing" because so many people take customer reviews into account.

The final P is performance, which is about making sure your product listings appear when they should. It is important that your products appear either on the first page or the first 10 search results when relevant terms are entered into the retailer's or marketplace's search facility. This is really a specific form of SEO (search engine optimisation).

Butler's top tips in this regard are:

• Include key search terms in the page title. If you're selling a skincare product, key words might include 'invigorating', 'hydrating', 'cream' and '50ml' as well as the product name.

• Allow for errors. If your brand is 'Ruth's', make sure that searching for 'Ruths' is also successful. Do the same for alternative spellings and misspellings, such as 'cream' and 'creme'.

• Make sure all your relevant products appear in search results. So if someone searches for 'Ruths skin cream' make sure the 50ml and 100ml packages are displayed, as well as the day and night variants of the product.

Don't rely on search: ensure each of the likely menu paths lead to all of your relevant products.

"It seems obvious, but it's basic digital hygiene" to follow these steps, she said.

Butler will be one of the speakers at IRI's Future Proofing for E-commerce Disruption being held in Sydney on 29 August 2018.

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