Your product pages are designed to turn website visitors into customers. They include all the information consumers need to research your products and make a decision, but most importantly they allow people to buy your products.
But what happens if your website visitors prefer to buy from retailers they already know and trust? If your product pages only allow people to buy directly from you, all of a sudden your website isn’t helping people buy your products — it’s getting in the way!
That’s what “where to buy” solutions are for. In this guide, we’re going to dig into:
- What these tools are
- The risks of not using one
- How they benefit your customers
- What you should look for
By the time we’re done, you’ll have a solid grasp of what a where to buy tool is, how they streamline the path to purchase, and how to choose the best solution for your brand.
What is a where to buy solution?
A where to buy (or WTB) tool is a widget you can add to your website that allows visitors to see a range of stores — online and local — that sell your product. (This is also sometimes referred to as “store locator software.”) Wherever you embed your widget, visitors can simply click a button to find a list of major retailers that carry your product. Where to buy solutions can also display pricing, stock information, ratings, and link directly to the corresponding product page on a retailer’s website.
You can configure a WTB tool to highlight the retailers and information you want your customers to see. You can prioritize the list of retailers to drive the most traffic to your highest-converting retail partners (or suppress retailers who violate your pricing policy). You can also hide any retailers who don’t have your products in stock.
A good where to buy solution should also give you additional data. Our Where to Buy tool, for example, can track sales that occur on a retailer’s website and give you in-cart data so you can see how much your customers spend and what else they buy when they purchase your products from an online retailer.
WTB tools work by connecting to your retailers’ websites. They regularly pull data from these sites to ensure your website displays current information. (And as we’ll discuss later, not all where to buy solutions do this equally well.)
Some of your customers are going to buy from a retailer no matter what you do. They want to take advantage of perks like free two-day shipping, rewards cards, or the convenience of buying online and picking up in store (BOPIS). Plus, they already have accounts with major retailers.
Some manufacturers optimize their websites for direct sales and avoid linking to retailers at all costs. But that comes with several big risks.
The risk of not using a where to buy solution
When you don’t have a where to buy tool, it disrupts the path to purchase. Sure, some of your website visitors are willing to create a new account and purchase directly from you. But for every customer who would prefer to buy from a retailer, you’ve just made the path to purchase longer, and you’ve put more barriers between them and your products.
Here are the risks of not using a where to buy tool.
It creates additional steps to purchase your product
Part of optimizing your website is reducing the number of clicks it takes to purchase a product. You want to streamline the checkout process, because every click someone has to make is an additional opportunity to lose the sale. That’s what makes Amazon’s one-click buying button so effective: it capitalizes on a customer’s intent to buy and removes steps that could derail their momentum.
When you don’t use a where to buy solution, the opposite happens. If someone wants to buy from a retailer, your website forces them to leave and search for your products — either on Google, or directly on a retailer’s site. Then they have to select your product page, and then they can start the checkout process.
Whether they head directly to a retailer’s website, or they start looking for you on Google, that adds at least two steps and at least two clicks to the checkout process. As you increase the work it takes to buy your products, you increase the likelihood that they’ll abandon the transaction.
Plus, you’re risking another outcome: wherever they start their search, your potential customers are going to find other products there, too.
It creates opportunities for competitors to steal potential customers
When you link directly from your site to your product pages on retailers’ websites, there’s not much opportunity for your competition to intercept the sale. But when your potential customers have to search for you, there are a couple big problems:
- Your competitors show up in search results on a retailer’s site
- Your competitors can advertise for your branded keywords
Retailers want to provide the best possible shopping experience. And that means when people look for a specific product, they’re going to show related products, too. Especially if your potential customers search for “[your brand] [product category]”. The most helpful search results will include your brand and competitors with similar product names.
Some retailers also allow brands to advertise in search results. So your competitors may appear before you when your customers search for you.
This exposure to competitors isn’t going to phase people who are determined to buy your product. But potential customers who just need a solution in your category or haven’t developed loyalty to your brand will be tempted to check out other product pages.
Similarly, Google lets brands advertise on keywords related to your brand, including your brand name or the names of any of your products. When someone searches for your product, the first thing they might see is an ad for a competitor’s alternative.
And all of this could’ve been avoided if you just linked directly to your product pages on a retailer’s site.
Note: Some manufacturers link to retailers who sell their products, but don’t link to the specific product pages. This is what we call “main paging,” and it’s one of the most common ecommerce mistakes we see because it creates the same problems we just addressed, only worse: you’re directly sending a small percentage of your potential customers into your competitors’ hands.
It risks misleading potential customers
You don’t have to use a where to buy solution to link directly to your product pages on retailers’ websites. You can create your own custom buttons or link to them in other ways. But what makes a WTB tool so useful is that it connects to your retail partners’ websites and regularly crawls them to ensure its information is accurate.
If you come up with your own solution, can you trust that you won’t send your customers somewhere where your products are out-of-stock or no longer sold (forcing them to search for you somewhere else or choose a competitor)? And what about pricing—are you going to manually update pricing (which risks showing customers outdated prices), or simply hide all pricing information?
Using a where to buy solution on your site helps ensure your website doesn’t mislead your potential customers by linking to places where they can’t buy your products or providing outdated information.
What should you look for in a where to buy solution?
Not all where to buy solutions are the same. If you’re in the market for a WTB tool, here are the questions you need to ask when you compare your options.
How often does it pull data from retailers?
Depending on the size of your catalog, your where to buy solution may need to pull pricing and stock information from hundreds or even thousands of product pages. Some Where to Buy Solutions may only crawl retailers’ sites on certain days of the week or at specific times. The less often it pulls stock and pricing data, the more likely you are to show your customers outdated information.
Imagine your website told a visitor that your product was available for a steep discount at Target, but when they clicked through to Target’s product page for the SKU, they saw the regular price because the sale ended hours ago. They might go back to your website and keep looking — or they might just buy a lower cost alternative from Target, since they’re already “at the store.”
Outdated information misleads your customers. If you mislead your customers, you’re going to lose some of them. And that’s the risk of selecting a where to buy solution that only pulls data periodically.
At PriceSpider, our Where to Buy solution pulls data in near real time from your retailers, giving your website the most accurate stock and pricing information possible.
Can it display online and local retailers?
Some WTB solutions (like ours) have an option to include an interactive map. This lets your website visitors enter location information like their city or zipcode to pull up a list of local stores that carry your products.
One of the main reasons some customers prefer to buy from retailers is because buying from a brick-and-mortar store means they don’t have to wait for shipping. They could have your product today if they can find a store that carries it. Maybe they already have plans to do a grocery run at Target. Or there’s a Home Depot on their way home from work.
With a quality WTB Solution, you can facilitate the process of finding a local retailer right on your product page. And of course, this is where it becomes even more important that your WTB tool gives your customers current stock information. You don’t want someone to hop on the bus or drive across town only to discover your product has been out-of-stock since yesterday.
Can customers change product options?
Not every retailer carries your products in the same colors, sizes, flavors, and configurations. Some may have your product in-stock, but with a more limited selection of options. If that’s relevant to your products, you probably want customers to be able to filter which stores they see based on the specific product configuration they’re looking for.
Alternatively, this means someone could use your where to buy solution to see that no nearby stores have the configuration they’d prefer, so they can adjust the parameters until they find what’s most readily available nearby.
What configuration options do you have?
Every where to buy solution will let you display retailers who carry your products. But some of them may not look and feel like part of your website.
If your where to buy solution makes people feel like they’re leaving your site, it can make them wary. Some website visitors are just getting to know your brand, so you want to make sure you choose a WTB tool that reinforces your brand and can match your website—you don’t want it to look out of place in the moment your visitors are getting ready to buy.
Can you control which sellers you display?
When your customers click to see where else they can buy your products, you want to present the best options first. You can’t just trust an automated tool to decide what’s best for your brand. A good solution will give you plenty of filters and manual control over which retailers and sellers you display (and the order they appear).
Sometimes you may want to simply display sellers based on which websites have the highest conversion rates. Or prioritize the retail partner who makes the most overall sales for you. But you might also want to choose which retailers to display based on who does the best job maintaining your brand integrity. Or you may want to penalize sellers who violate your MAP policy by not sending them traffic. Same with retailers who highlight competitors’ products right on your product pages. (This is where it helps to have a where to buy solution that’s part of a conversion optimization platform.)
You may also want to prioritize sellers based on how much of your catalog they carry. This directly affects their ability to cross-promote your products, upsell add-ons, and bundle related items. Similarly, with in-cart data, you can even order sellers based on the total revenue they generate for your brand. A store with a lower conversion rate may still outsell another retailer if they do a better job selling more of your catalog.
Ultimately, you want a tool you have control over and that you can adjust to fit your needs.
What other data can it give you?
One of the reservations manufacturers have about driving traffic to retailers is that they don’t know what happens once customers get there. They can’t track sales that take place through these distribution channels. And that means if you pay to advertise your products or promote them in other channels, you don’t have an accurate picture of how your marketing campaigns are performing. Some of your leads are essentially disappearing.
Our WTB solution alleviates this concern by following your customers through the checkout process and integrating with your marketing campaigns. So you can see how many people converted (or didn’t) on a retailer’s site and which campaign the sale is attributed to.
We also let you see what else your customers purchased. Retailers have a wider selection of products, and your customers often buy more than just your products when they get to a retailer’s site. By getting that view behind the door, you can learn how much your customers are spending when they buy your products and you can see what else they’re buying.
With this additional insight, you may discover your customers are using your products in unexpected ways. For some clients, this has helped them develop add-on products and bundles, reassess which features and capabilities to highlight, and even release new products to address their customers’ needs.
Where can you use it?
In ecommerce, every touchpoint is transforming into a point of sale or path to purchase. Brands are looking for shoppable media solutions that bring where to buy functionality to social media, blogs, and other digital channels. Not every where to buy solution supports shoppable media, and they’re often isolated to your product pages.
PriceSpider’s Where to Buy solution takes shoppable media to a whole other level, empowering you to display and link to multiple retailers from Instagram stories, Facebook posts, tweets, pins, and more.
With PriceSpider, your marketing teams can get creative and think beyond the product page. And since our solution gives you universal tracking, you can let data drive your marketing decisions, rather than shaping your campaigns around which sales you can track.
Streamline the path to purchase
Installing Where to Buy on your site transforms every product page into a shopping hub your customers won’t find anywhere else. They can compare pricing, availability, and product configurations without leaving your site, so they can be confident they’re making the best selection.
This is the best possible shopping experience you can provide your potential customers.
Want to see how it works?
Schedule a demo.