The bankruptcy of the “R” Us stores in late 2017 left a large white space for retailers to enter the youth market, particularly in the toys and baby categories. In response, Amazon, Target and Kohl’s expanded their toy selections, and Walmart increased its toy inventory by 30% in stores and 40% online.
While organic search visibility leaders Amazon and Target led the toy category in market share during the 2018 winter holidays, Walmart was close behind according to Gartner L2’s report on the topic. The retailer was backed up by investment in showcase shopping ads to boost visibility on high-volume search keywords like “baby toys” and “hot wheels track” for exclusive products like Hot Wheels Ultimate Garage. Organic search favors incumbents like Amazon and Target, but ads can help retailers like Walmart jump right to the top of the page in key categories. While Amazon and Target win in organic search for kid and baby apparel terms, Walmart invests in showcase shopping ads to appear above organic results. Since there is limited movement in organic search visibility, Walmart instead labels its products in the showcase shopping ad storefront with high-volume search keywords, including “baby boy clothes,” “newborn” and “infant.”
While Walmart has seen online traffic to baby pages increase 30% year over year, Net-a-Porter, which launched its youth apparel line in January 2019, has seen only marginal site traffic to its category pages. In contrast to Walmart, Net-a-Porter assigns its products for babies between 0 and 18 months as “kidswear” in category and product page URLs. The keyword not only mislabels the product but also has a notably lower search volume than “baby clothes.” The retailer only surfaced a few showcase shopping ads for keywords like “girls denim” and “kids sweaters,” and it did not appear against any keywords with “baby” in it, missing the chance to promote its new line.
While paid search is the dominant means to both quickly gain visibility against important terms and drive traffic, retailers must ensure the relevancy of their listings inside ads.