PepsiCo and Unilever new product launches let down by e-commerce functionality

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

©iStock
©iStock
New product information describing PepsiCo and Unilever brands are not being accurately represented in major grocer listings, with oversights particularly evident on e-commerce platforms.

Online analytics firm E Fundamentals identified PepsiCo's Quaker Oats range of Super Goodness porridge sachets and Unilever's Magnum ice cream tubs as examples that suffered from bad eCommerce practice.

This includes inaccurate new product listings and information as well as missing product ingredients and shortened product names, which could make them much harder for shoppers to find.

All this contributes to a minimum of €34.3m (£30.4m) on failed product launches per year by the UK’s grocery retail sector. Over €2.4m (£2.1m) of that is wasted through online grocery platforms alone.

Online grocery retail may still be relatively new to shoppers, but it is tremendously influential and growing,” ​explained John Maltman, founder of E Fundamentals.

“For a small but growing number of people, online is swiftly becoming the only way they get their weekly shop.

“If brands fail to get the fundamentals of their online listings right with retailers, the millions they invest in new product development and launch is simply money down the drain.”

Analysis methodology

E Fundamentals analysed a representative sample of 59 new grocery product launches from January 2017 to date, across 18 different product categories.

This analysis tracked how each product was listed, within which online categories, how key product benefits were communicated and how well each product ranked using the retailers’ search function.

There products were tracked across Ocado, Sainsburys, Asda, Tesco, Amazon Fresh, Morrisons and Waitrose online shopping sites.

The research found six in ten (63%) products had errors in their listings with the retailers. In addition, 71% of the new products fell outside of the top 100 search results on key product search terms, or, did not feature in the search results at all.

Quaker Oat Super Goodness raspberry & cranberry porridge for example still had a picture of the product on the Ocado website even though the product was out of stock.

When using the search term ‘oats’ some of the products in the range failed to appear in the top 100 products on the Ocado, Asda and Sainsbury’s website.

It was a similar story for Magnum ice cream tubs. In assessing the clarity of the product’s name none of the retailers made a reference to the product’s chocolate content.

When using the search term ‘ice cream tub’ the highest position achieved was 22nd​ place on Morrison’s website with the lowest being 121 on Ocado.

Maltman believed that this lack of visibility in retailer search functions would render three quarters of newly launched products unsearchable by online shoppers severely limiting their sales potential.

Products unsearchable

“When new grocery products launch, awareness of their availability is everything,”​ he said.

“For there to not only be errors in the listings of almost every new product we investigated, and for them to be not turning up in grocery retailers’ search terms when shoppers browse is completely undermining their potential to sell. Simply put, online shoppers just can’t find them to purchase.”

Online grocery shopping has come a long way since its inception back in the late 90's. New research from Mintel forecasts an online grocery domain with 2017 sales of €12.5bn (£11.1bn) in the UK alone, up from an estimated €11.1bn (£9.9bn) in 2016.

These figures suggest online grocery shopping has become firmly entrenched in the psyche of shoppers as the most convenient way of achieving the daily shopping run.  

Morgan Stanley Research also identify Germany and France as two markets set to gain from mass adoption of online groceries with market share of overall grocery sales running at around 6% in European markets.

French growth in the sector primarily has been driven by ‘click and collect’ services offered by French retailers such as Carrefour, whilst in Germany the expansion is attributed to retailers like Edeka and Rewe, which have invested in the online channel.

All this places added pressure on new product launches, which are already burdened with the uncertainty of consumer opinion, changing tastes and shopping habits.