Merchants of all shapes and sizes agree on a common goal: achieve strong top-line growth through increased conversion rates and average order size. There have been numerous strategies, methodologies and processes developed over the long history of retail that have delivered proven results. The inconvenient truth is that many of these strategies have not been replicated in the eCommerce world, despite the fact that the Web is the ideal channel for realizing an immediate payback.
In brick and mortar stores, effective selling strategies are supported by consumers who make a commitment of time and effort to see, touch and interact with products. The online channel, however, is a completely different scenario. The established methodology for pricing, displaying and promoting products has been hobbled by Websites that were rushed to go live with inaccurate product categorization strategies, inefficient search capabilities and irrelevant cross-sells. The end result is every online retailer’s worst nightmare: high product return rates, poor conversion and low average order size.
To counter these nightmarish scenarios, online retailers have raised expectations on the technology offered today, forcing software vendors to mimic the way retailers do business instead of the inverse. They demand increased support to optimize online merchandising strategies that leverage search, promotions, product display, pricing and recommendations as well as the ability to automatically respond to changing market conditions based on analytics-driven business rules. Today, more than ever, there is increased pressure to utilize technologies for putting the power of turning inventory back in the hands of the merchandiser. Few eCommerce platform vendors provide a full array of Web-based merchandising features to satisfy this intense need for automation, accuracy and ease-of-use.
In order to regain control over their online merchandising processes and technology, merchants need to build a plan that has clear goals, accurately segments customers, contains a strategy and tactics for targeting these segments, optimizes Web pages for selling, and tracks data for decision making and automation.
Retailers need to define a critical set of eCommerce functionality for empowering merchants to drive online revenue; they need the flexibility to make decisions and execute on them with relevancy. In addition, retailers need to free up valuable IT resources by providing a highly visual, task-based user interface that merchants can use directly to access pertinent information and make adjustments accordingly. Finally, merchandising managers need to be able to focus on what they do best – merchandise – instead of worrying about how they will compensate for eCommerce system deficiencies.