SUCCESSFUL PRODUCT or an expensive mistake? There’s a fine line between the two. Merchandising departments need to tread cautiously to deliver the first outcome.
This is because merchandise no longer sells itself. Within the digital landscape, countless competitor products can be reached with a single click. Customer reviews, rating systems and social media endorsements have also emerged as important parts of the buying process. However, they add another layer of complexity.
Great product selection alone is not enough. Retailers need to present an item in its best light, and then spend time, energy and money maximising the item’s sales potential.
Don’t get me wrong, the above features are invaluable. I’m hardly calling for a return to the early days of internet shopping where you’d trawl through a website hoping to find the product you want. Reviews, personalisation and advanced product filtering mean customers can enjoy a retail experience that adapts to their personal tastes, preferences and shopping habits. It’s incredibly fluid and satisfying.
Automation and predictive marketing make these outcomes even more attainable and are further improving the online shopping experience for customers.
Selecting the right merchandise
A product’s digital marketability is now as important as the product itself. Merchandise, therefore, must meet certain parameters to perform successfully on digital channels.
So, do you need to rethink merchandising within the context of omnichannel retail?
For example, will a product perform strongly on mobile channels? Is it difficult to classify using existing filters? The item might struggle to fit within upcoming email campaigns or could prove difficult to market to customers using social ads.
Furthermore, the merchandise’s strengths need to be easily described, so a customer leaving a review can explain to others why they bought the product. Keywords should relate to common search terms and must fit customer profiles – in other terms, relevance and the ability to personalise an item to specific segments.
AI achieves incredible results
All of these factors really add up in terms of complexity. This is why the promise of Artificial Intelligence Marketing (AIM) is exciting so many retailers. Progressive marketers equipped with automation, AI, machine learning and data science can scale their personalised marketing campaigns easily and, in the process, enhance the merchandising department’s performance.
Campaign data and real-time product performance feed into decision-making with impressive results. This contrasts with the current situation for many retailers, where merchandising defines purchasing based on ageing historical data, only influences marketing and rarely reacts fast enough to customer preferences, trends or shifts in product performance.
The end goal should be marketing and merchandising working together collaboratively, more efficiently and with better commercial alignment. Online product classification, search engine performance, customer loyalty programmes and incentivisation should all improve due to a reduction in complexity and greater visibility on how products are performing across every channel.
Essentially, merchandising becomes more strategic, benefits the retailer’s bottom line and makes for a more enjoyable customer experience.
Emarsys is a leading global provider of marketing automation software and the first marketing cloud for retail and ecommerce. The Emarsys B2C Marketing Cloud enables true, one-to-one interactions between marketers and consumers across all channels – building loyalty, enriching the customer journey and increasing revenues. Machine learning and data science fuels customer intelligence in an intuitive, cloud-based platform.