What is searchandizing? Obviously search in the context of merchandising. Retailers have taken this technique to a different level. Constant price pressures and competition from online retailing has spurred the innovation in this area both in terms of tools, approach and overall strategy.
In the early dot com days several online retailers have built custom websites with cool features. Though they are profitable, their website and landing pages are quickly becoming legacy applications. Modernizing the platform takes not only new tools and revamping the site, but also the cultural change. The cool dot come team is becoming more traditional development team and not to mention it is now regular IT operations, not a new startup with how much can you burn anymore.
So what needs to happen? For starters rethinking the customer experience based on reliable data, is a priority. Taking stock of what is working and what is not working needs in-depth business understanding and deep data analytics. Deploying proper tools and metrics to understand the customer buying patterns will drive the overall change. Simplifying the site and not feeding unnecessary information, which is a distraction, as an optimization outcome.
Customer experience strategies can be grouped by some of the key ideas and metrics. See the sample list of four areas of focus. Now getting back to the strategies for searchandizing, we have lot more options today for modernizing the search capabilities. From e-commerce platforms, to search appliances specifically for searchandizing (E.g. Google Search Appliance, Oracle’s Endeca, Solr) are available from established companies to open source vendors.
Key strategies for leveraging these tools and platforms starts with a robust Product Data Management coupled with Customer experience strategies. Understanding the current state involves knowing:
- What is the conversion rate?
- Which actions are likely to happen?
- What do we know about the customer patterns?
Creating a strategic future state based on the gaps (tools, people, and process) and forging an actionable roadmap for the short-term, and a vision for the future, is critical for leveraging these new capabilities.