A well know and century-old conglomerate in India envisaged the growth of the Food and FMCG retail market in early 2020 and decided to sell their popular products, which existed since last two decades and have been a popular name in almost every urban household in Indian metros, on their own newly built e-commerce website so as to strengthen their brand presence, establish the connection between popular products and the conglomerate and connect their e-commerce business to their upcoming brick and mortar store in top metro and tier 1 cities.
Lockdowns were difficult due to the pandemic which led to a lot of internet-based purchases. Pandemic in 2020 has led to the increase in online shopping for existing as well as the 1st time online buyers. Most of the online buyers were inclined towards established platforms in India like Amazon, Grofers, and BigBasket due to their presence in the market and presence on various online channels for a long time. For first-time shoppers too, Google search was dominated by established players in the market. This helped the existing players become the first choice for online shopping of essentials post-pandemic.
As per the report from RedSeer.com, out of all purchases happening for grocery, 80% of purchases happen on BigBasket or Grofers, 5% happens on Flipkart and Amazon and 15% on other platforms which included conglomerate’s e-commerce website as well.
This clearly shows that existing online shoppers as well as 1st time online shoppers prefer the existing players only. Since users prefer these platforms as their 1st choice, this increase in online shoppers and using online as their medium of choice due to pandemic has led to the surge in grocery order for the existing players:
This surge in grocery orders and shortage of supply and labor has resulted in a long waiting period and products being sold out on the website very fast due to high demand.
Despite the bottlenecks, BigBasket said 283,000 orders a day are being met, up from 150,000 before the shutdown, while Grofers said it was servicing 190,000 daily orders against 100,000 before the crisis.
This resulted in a bad experience for customers and turned a lot of customers into disgruntled customers. These disgruntled customers started looking for other options for purchasing essential products and naturally turned to Google. This led to increasing in the searches for Online Grocery and Food products in Google Search. Searches for online grocery increased dramatically by around 1000%.
While searching for essentials online on Google, although Google search landscape was still dominated by established players. But due to unavailability and long waiting period, users started researching for alternative brand and conglomerate’s e-commerce website which was not synonymous with groceries and personal care aspired to appear in front of these customers and become their go-to choice for purchasing grocery and essentials online.
The major challenge for conglomerate as a new entrant in the market was to build our presence online and appear in front of an audience that would not naturally come to the conglomerate’s e-commerce website. The Conglomerate wanted to build visibility for +800% of online searches which were stemming due to the non-availability of the products on these established platforms and increase in first-time online buyers.
Conglomerate as an entity wanted to capture this increase in search trend and wanted customers to see their e-commerce website as synonymous with the online grocery store.
To do this, Conglomerate must be visible in front of these customers and there were two ways to appear: Organically and via Paid channel.
While the Conglomerate uses paid channel and spent a lot of money on Paid ads, the cost of acquisition was around Rs.600 and the average order value was around Rs.500 at 0.9 ROAS which was not sustainable keeping in mind that the Conglomerate is a new entrant in the market.
For a new e-commerce website dealing with grocery, FMGC, and personal care products, the main issue was a highly focused channel such as paid was not working or the cost of acquisition was high as there was no brand semblance or brand resemblance.
Therefore, to suppress this cost of acquisition, the Conglomerate must choose SEO as the channel to reduce the cost of acquisition.
During the initial period, the website has no share of voice and was getting very low or almost no traffic at all.
Basis all the observations on search, activating organic for search as a medium was important and the total opportunity on search was 10 million+ across the IBP funnel. In the top funnel we had 8 million+ searches, 1,991,190 searches in mid-funnel and 293,180 searches in bottom-funnel.
But the opportunity in Paid was only in the Bottom funnel (Evaluation and Purchase Stage). If we target the top funnel via paid, it will cost a lot of money with very little return on investment. While on the other hand, SEO can target all the stages of the funnel from need-state (top-funnel) or the value buyer (bottom-funnel). Therefore, SEO was their channel of choice which they activated.
While SEO is considered slower in delivering results, so the idea was to optimize at scale with the help of AI by understanding search patterns at scale and optimizing the website at scale.
The Conglomerate has more than 1,100 products and 50 Brand Pages and 12 Collection Pages on the website. With the help of this AI tool, we were able to optimize 1,162 pages in just 2 months which would have ideally taken 4-5 months at least.
Top and bottom-funnel approach using AI Tool
There were 1,162 pages on the website, and each product would trigger 10 important keywords across the IBP Funnel which left us with approximately 11,000 queries to optimize across the funnel.
To reach this stage, we have used conditions across each step to get the most relevant queries as shown in the flow chart below:
Once keywords are bucketed in the IBP funnel, then we can decide whether we have to create blogs, or we need to optimize SEO Tags and content for the Product Page/Collection Page/Brand Page.
In the top funnel, PX identified need-based queries and pushed SEO Optimized blogs on the website which in turn helped increase the top funnel number and visibility of products through the blogs.
On the other hand, to optimize the bottom funnels number which consisted of product terms, brand terms, and generic keywords, we used an AI-based tool that would take input from various tools, filter out keywords based on certain parameters, and sort keywords in various stages of IBP funnel.
This helped PX to optimize pages for SEO in just 2 months which ideally would have taken 4-5 months.
Since March 2020, SoV improved from 0% to 27%, and the brand’s e-commerce website served around 1 million searchers via the website which helped the Conglomerate get Rs. 35 Million+ ($4,71,103) in revenue purely via organic means. Organic as a channel helped save Rs.10 million ($1,34,600) which would have been spent to bring this many of searchers on the website. This also led to building brand equity and help it to connect to upcoming brick and mortar stores in top cities.
Credits: Mehul Shah