When it comes to online sales of microwave ovens, Sharp is best positioned to succeed in what is becoming an increasingly important channel for the category.
According to a study by e-commerce analytics company Clavis Insight, Sharp trumps its top five online competitors — Cuisinart, Frigidaire, Panasonic and GE — in five key metrics: availability, image presence, content, keyword search and customer ratings, which together form the Clavis Insight Index (CI2).
With 17 percent of market share by volume in 2014, according to Euromonitor, Sharp leads the pack with strong breadth and depth of distribution at three key online appliance retailers analyzed in the study. Specifically, at least 15 Sharp models were offered by the trio — Amazon, Target.com and Walmart.com — while Target’s e-tail site carried 33.
What’s more, the brand outperformed its peers on both search performance and image presence, offering multiple product views on a large majority of its product pages. Clavis believes that with a high average selling price of $287, providing multiple images of the products at various angles is critical to closing the sale, as it allows consumers to research and fully consider their purchases.
However, Sharp’s units dropped the ball on consumer reviews: over 35 percent of the product listings had no ratings at all, and about half the placements at Target.com and Amazon were bereft of reviews.
Among its online competitors:
*No. 2 Cuisinart and fifth-place GE also excelled at image presence, with multiple images featured on each of the brands’ product pages;
*Frigidaire, with less than 1 percent of 2014 market volume share according to Euromonitor, ranked third, ahead of GE, due to strong search results and the availability of its products at Target.com and Walmart.com (but not Amazon). This demonstrates how a product line with limited offline share can outperform market leaders in the online channel — and could ostensibly increase its lead by winning distribution at Amazon; and
*No. 4 Panasonic tied its competitors on content but trailed in keyword searches.
Whirlpool, with 9 percent of total market share in 2014 according to Euromonitor, is only largely available at one of the three e-tailers tracked —Walmart.com, and then only through its third-party marketplace resellers. While Amazon direct-sells a limited number of Whirlpool models, they are well outside the top 500 listed in the e-tailer’s microwave menu, leaving them outside consumer consideration, Clavis said.
The company’s advice: With over $130 million spent on microwaves online in 2014 and $1.5 billion in in-store sales digitally influenced, “It is crucial for all microwave brands, particularly market leaders such as GE and Whirlpool, to review their product portfolio within each key online retailer to capitalize on this growing opportunity.”
Clavis’ complete microwave rankings appear below:
U.S Microwave Oven Rankings Based On Online Metrics