Intelligent Merchandising

Posted on February 5th, 2013 by

The e-tailing group prides itself on always recommending intelligent merchandising having tracked ecommerce from that orientation for 16 years. The customer today is short on time yet willing to research product and price to ensure they’re getting the right product that suits their needs. That aspect of shopping hasn’t changed but what’s different is the Internet’s ability to zero in quickly on that item.

Merchandising serves as the conduit for researchers and buyers where giving product visibility can be the difference between a click to cart or a click to a competitor. With conversion still concentrated in the 2% range according to our e-tailing group 2012 Merchant Survey, merchandising selection and placement is paramount to success. Winning strategies center around search so optimizing one’s search results through labeling and merchandising of themes, hot product or sale should be beneficial. Creativity and visibility go hand in hand as 86% of the merchants we shopped during our 2012 Mystery Shopping have wisely chosen to leverage dropdown navigation given its frequency of use. Others have taken it one step farther where 56% make it part of their type ahead feature when shoppers enter a keyword or phrase. Beyond this the use of slide shows and promotional overlays plays well in best showing one’s assortment. Labeling results serves as the merchant’s editor to direct shoppers based on new or sale product or one that may have been featured on a top television show.

From the traditional tactics that have long been part and parcel to shopping such as top sellers comes social-oriented tools such as top rated and customer photos that provide peer-based sentiments. Video too is an up and comer bringing to life products that require demonstration or categories that can use explanation educating shoppers while they are in the path to purchase. Despite challenging the retailer’s bottom line, free is seen as the perennial favorite where retention is often forthcoming as many of us know from our Prime Amazon memberships or increased Nordstrom purchasing based on such added convenience. Beyond that perk, their frequent shopper programs reward shoppers where relationships with retailers often transcend finding the lowest price.

The product page is at the core of intelligent merchandising where real estate is tight and information requirements unlimited. We have learned through some of our proprietary research that the quality of the image, color change, alternative views of the product and zoom top the list of tactics consumers want to see. A comprehensive product page should be able to inform and inspire and for shoppers may be a first step to an in store visit fueled by a product locator and/or in-store pickup option. Category-centric selling is essential as retailers incorporate comparison tools, configurators or the ability to look inside in order for shoppers to make confident buying decisions. The devil is in the details from showing scale of jewelry to the inside of roller board luggage. Here too social dynamics are a “must do” from product ratings and reviews to Q/A that allow for community engagement. Videos and how-to guides provide product specific information that demonstrates how the stroller opens or closes or how to install a kitchen sink.

Learning what works for you brand and your customer should be all about testing and refining the shopper experience. At the same time, monitoring your own site as well as the competitive landscape, something that is core to our business at the e-tailing group is advisable to ensure your merchandising is intelligent and on par with the best in the business.

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