New data underscores the importance of differentiating the site experience during the holidays, especially with online becoming top choice for shoppers. This Thanksgiving holiday represented a massive milestone with online shopping eclipsing the store, along with a growing percentage of store sales being impacted by online research. A National Retail Federation survey on Sunday found that more […]
Hold onto your hats! Holiday shopping is officially in full swing and, believe it or not, 92% of shoppers will get online to either research or purchase a gift this season, making online an incredibly critical channel. This is the time of year when many retailers learn whether their positioning, merchandising and media plans will be successful in connecting with shoppers and meeting business goals.
So, just how big is the holiday shopping season for retailers? To give some perspective: 1 in 3 retailers will spend 30-50% of their total online budget on holiday efforts, some planning to capture up to 40% of projected annual revenue during the period. Also interesting, more than half of their online budget will be dedicated to search and social which have become consistently important marketing tools in the toolbox.
With so much at stake, every optimized tactic and piece of content can make a difference. At Edgecase, we are seeing many of our retail clients utilize their adaptive navigation and product data intelligence tools to boost the effectiveness of their on-site merchandising and acquisition marketing activities.
The National Retail Federation and The Wall Street Journal just released stories on WalmartLabs’s formal launch of their Product Content Collection System (PCCS), a tool the company will use for better collection and organization of product data from suppliers.
With the launch of PCCS comes Walmart’s heightened emphasis on how important it is for their suppliers to be providing data that is not only complete and consistent, but that includes the breadth of detail required for selling products online…not just what’s required for categorization in the in-store point of sale. Walmart sees this higher quality product information as key to their ability to make better merchandising decisions, refine their price matching algorithm and offer an overall better experience for today’s information-hungry shopper.
Few, if any, retail systems provide direct feedback on what product attributes and specific shopper preferences are influencing a buying decision. Merchant teams are often forced to make gut calls on optimizations to make to product merchandising and site navigation, or to just not optimize at all.
To dig for product data insights and pinpoint clear optimization opportunities takes time, and time is simply spread too thin among most teams today. Facing time constraints and competing priorities generally leads to a “set it and forget it” product data mentality, and with it, many missed opportunities to improve information that is truly at the heart of retail business.
The product data and ongoing optimization problem can only be solved by having specific tracking built to follow the life of this product data, along with dedicating someone to actually do something with the findings. Being able to connect shopper preferences and filters used to whether someone bought and what they chose can provide powerful insights into whether the product assortment is on-point and the merchandising is compelling.
Deep in the heart of Texas, great things are happening!
I am proud to be a part of the University of North Texas’ (UNT) Global Digital Retailing Research Center (GDRRC) – located in Denton, Texas – where my colleagues and I work diligently to prioritize global retailing discovery and industry research, with the goal of building a stronger talent pool for retailers looking to enhance their digital footprint. As a member of the center’s Think Tank and College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism Board of Governors, I am honored to work alongside my peers at JCPenney, Pier 1, Sally Beauty and other technology leaders to make positive changes for today’s digital retail workforce development.
At a recent Advisory Board and Think Tank meeting in Denton, we discussed the changing role of the merchant, a trend attributed to the digital revolution retailers are currently experiencing. The world of merchandising is rapidly evolving due to the shift in consumers’ buying patterns and transaction methods. For the Board of Governors at UNT, our goal is to stay at the forefront of conversations on how the industry can pivot during this transitional phase in retail, as well as develop top talent to solve the problems every retailer is facing.
Many retailers have invested in rich data for product pages, as well as tools that are capturing product likes/dislikes from shoppers through content like ratings and reviews. This data generally lives deeper in the site, but has proven to be incredibly effective in driving increased sales when integrated with site search and navigation.
Think about the extensive click path to find a relevant review on a product of interest:
Browse or search for product → Go to product page → Click on the Reviews link/tab → Peruse all reviews to find the one(s) from someone you identify with → Not the right product? Start all over again at the product page or search box.
Most retailers are very aware of this inefficiency, but their hands are often tied. This type of data usually lives in an unstructured format across various databases. Merchant teams don’t always have the time or the tools to mine for relevant product attributes to pull into their data management systems, or infuse it into site search and navigation.