Stack the Merchandising Odds in Your Favor by Doubling Down on “the 20%"
By Kait Spong
Knowing where to allocate your marketing spend is a game of chance. You never know which e-commerce initiative will take your business’ pawn across all of the tiles of the game board to victory. But how does one win during peak season in such a competitive environment, especially with a looming recession where consumer sentiment is low?
For starters, your e-commerce team needs to make the right choice when it comes to allocating your innovation budget, and by choosing search and merchandising technology, you’ll begin with a strong foundation for your team to optimize customer experience (CX) immediately. With it, merchandisers can act quickly to make key site improvements — or completely pivot — and increase conversions and average order value (AOV). Consider these strategies the 80% of a merchandiser’s workload that can be automated.
But that still leaves approximately 20% of merchandisers’ tasks that require their undivided attention, even with AI and automation working in the background. Once a digital search and merchandising solution begins to improve the browsability and findability of the products and services on your e-commerce website, you might be wondering what’s next for your merchandisers.
In our guide, we explored the 80/20 rule of merchandising. Now, we’ll delve further into the 20% of tasks that still require a merchandiser’s human touch once 80% of their workload is automated by commerce-specific search and merchandising technology.
Marketing and Advertising
- Brand building - Many businesses continue to make investments in clean, attractive brand assets. In today’s omnichannel landscape, brand building continues to increase lifetime value, boost conversion rates, and attract customers. Your commerce company needs to establish trust with your shopper or buyer and provide them with a smooth purchase journey from the first inquiry to the final transaction. Although your merchandisers don’t contribute directly to brand collateral, they are responsible for the on-page experience that evolves your brand and builds it up one loyal advocate at a time.
- Product launches - Whether they specialize in visual or digital merchandising, a core part of a merchandiser’s job is to prepare for product launches. When introducing a new product or service, they’ll create a coordinated plan to take the offering into the market. It isn’t as simple as posting a product on a website or arranging it nicely in a display, though. Branding, storytelling, and messaging need to be perfectly crafted and aligned to resonate with each audience segment — and it’s a nuanced task that needs a merchandiser’s personal touch.
- Specialty promotions - Upsells, cross-sells, and add-ons — all of them fall under your merchandiser’s list of responsibilities. While merchandisers certainly care about conversions, they also are highly concerned with AOV, revenue per visit (RPV), and customer lifetime value (CLV). One way these KPIs can be achieved is through specialty promotions that establish brand value and foster customer loyalty. Just as visual merchandisers are concerned with optimizing displays of promotional products, promotions should be a key focus of digital merchandisers as well.
In-store and Website Experiences
- User interface/user experience (UI/UX) - UX is all about space, layout, and usability, which should align with shopping experiences both in store and online. Focused on aesthetics, UI plays just as significant of a role as UX by encouraging your customers to interact with your products or services in a certain way. Because UI/UX contributes to both “good” and “bad” digital experiences, your merchandising team can leverage it to avoid e-commerce website faux pas — such as unattractive design, slow load times, and difficult navigation — and adapt the purchase journey to any device via responsive design.
- Personalized experiences - Even though consumers support data privacy and protection, they still want personalized experiences. Businesses agree. In fact, 61% of survey respondents believe on-site personalization has the most potential to drive growth for their company, and we see no coincidence that site search and guided navigation rank right below it at 57%. Personalization capabilities within a search and merchandising tool will help your e-commerce team’s key players foster meaningful, relevant experiences in an online setting through upsells (e.g., trending items, recommended products or services, or offerings based on new or previous purchases).
- Omnichannel strategy - Why pick one channel over another? Or perhaps, a better question: Is it a strategic disadvantage to silo your channels to where they fail to work together productively? After all, a cohesive omnichannel strategy that centers on both online and in-person channels is vital to growth (and survival) in today’s market. The advantages of your brick-and-mortar presence need to be leveraged with the convenient, information-rich experience you provide online. Connecting these channels is the responsibility of your commerce business, and your merchandisers should play a significant role in this objective.
Operations and Logistics
- Finding brand-appropriate products - Most of us know that merchandisers have a whole process for finding new offerings. These items need to present consistent worth to the business and fit the brand’s objectives and values. This innately human process is impossible to automate, and being that it is so vital to the success of your commerce business, your merchandisers need to think about this initiative regularly instead of being bogged down by tasks that can be left to artificial intelligence (AI).
- Negotiating volume deals and exclusivities with suppliers - Negotiation is an essential skill for any merchandiser. While finding products and promoting them is of the utmost importance, these workflows cannot begin without the merchandise itself. Another manual workflow still prevalent in a merchandiser’s role is the age-old art form of negotiation, or bargaining. A highly efficient merchandiser can secure the right price, terms, and conditions. With AI and automation handling the shopping experience, they can easily execute this process without small distractions clouding their time or judgment.
To get started with the 20%, you need to have the other 80% covered. Still not sure if a search and merchandising solution is worth your budget? With our return on investment (ROI) calculator, you can easily plug in relevant numbers to your business (site sessions, search conversion rates, AOV, etc.), and we’ll calculate the ROI you can realistically expect from an investment in Bloomreach Discovery.