Manual merchandising – why it’s costing you and what to do about it

Manual merchandising – why it’s costing you and what to do about it

Will Jacobs

Manual merchandising – why it’s costing you and what to do about it

Manual merchandising – why it’s costing you and what to do about it.

For many online retailers, manual merchandising is holding them back. Businesses struggle to sell particular products at a given point in time, web systems are inflexible, or their merchandising strategies are misinformed, all of which lead to missed opportunities. 

However, by automating key merchandising tasks, your team can improve product visibility and support the overall business strategy. 

In this blog we talk all about manual merchandising – why it’s creating problems for your business, and how you can support kickass automated merchandising.

What is manual merchandising?

Before we talk about the problems of manual merchandising and how to fix them, let’s first discuss what we mean by manual merchandising.

When we refer to manual merchandising, we mean the carrying out of merchandising tasks without automation. 

To give some examples, this might include:

  • Implementing campaigns on your site manually
  • Manually pushing new stock when it becomes available
  • Manually ordering your products
  • Gathering analytics on your own which are often an incomplete picture

This can be frustrating for ecommerce and development teams for a variety of reasons. It’s slow, poorly optimised, and comes at a cost – to both your time and money. It also gives you a poor picture of performance and impacts conversion rate. 

 

What are the challenges of manual merchandising?

There are three key challenges when it comes to manual merchandising.

The first challenge is that many companies struggle to sell certain products and reach their targets. This creates a problem for retailers for instance, because you might have issues managing stock left over from excess promotions. When manually merchandising, you might also find it difficult to push new stock on your website when it becomes available. All of this leads to a loss of revenue.

The second challenge is that your technology platform is set up in a way that is disadvantageous to your merchandising opportunities. Conversion of key products is missed out on as a result. Additionally, you’re spending a lot of time executing tasks that would be better executed with an automation platform anyway.

The third challenge is understanding how to create amazing merchandising strategies for your products that will increase sales. Without the right tool, you won’t be able to drill down and understand how to interpret your ecommerce data. This data might include your best sellers, your new stock, or inventory management.

 

What can merchants do to solve the issue?

There are multiple ways merchants can overcome the issues of manual merchandising. 

Invest in a merchandising platform

Leveraging automation is the first port of call. 

Today’s technology platforms such as Findologic are equipped with merchandising tools that automate manual tasks and allow you to easily identify products that will increase sales on site. 

Web audit

Merchants can also find support across their whole Product Discovery experience, through a full inspection of the website from an outside perspective.

Outside help

You could also work with an external team, allowing you to better understand how best to utilise products in your portfolio that’ll allow you to increase sales and margins on your site. 

Findologic can support retailers in the merchandising of their products on their website, through Findologic’s backend merchandising features and our Business Reviews. 

Our experts can identify gaps in merchant’s strategies for merchandising their products, and suggest simple fixes that will improve conversion rates. 

Why is it important to automate merchandising?

Automating merchandising gives you the opportunity to merchandise your product discovery engine in any way that you please. A flexible backend allows you to create merchandising that best suits your business. 

Working with Findologic can allow you to understand if you’re losing valuable time and money, and having this outside perspective to leverage is important in the optimisation of the whole on site UX.

What features should you look for?

The best merchandising solutions give you full control over your merchandising, and a comprehensive set of features that drive insights, link trends, and deliver results inline with your unique business requirements – all controlled from your backend. 

 

Promotions

Promotions allow you to implement temporary campaigns across your website, on desktop and mobile to support promotions. Offers and promotions give increased exposure to products that are relevant to your customer. 

You can also place banners for relevant search terms in the autocomplete or other pages throughout navigation and benefit from full exposure throughout the customer journey. Promotions benefit retailers by making your shoppers aware of the right promotions at the right time in order to support business goals.

 

Search concepts

Predefined rules and search logics allow you to produce optimal results that convert, regardless of how broad the query was or how comprehensive of a product range you have. 

With merchandising tools, you’re able to make sense of your search queries and product feeds so you can get your shopper from A to B effectively.

You’re also able to enhance the search experience by giving your shoppers real-time, relevant results.

Product Placements

Automated merchandising allows you to benefit from product placements allow you to link specific products to key search queries. You’re able to guarantee prime position to key products if a shopper submits a related query. 

This helps you to get your shoppers to the products they want without frustration, with effective product discoverability. 

Product Bury-and-Boost

With searchandising, you can take control of your results listings and augment product hierarchies to present shoppers with valuable recommendations, or prioritise product groups in line with your business goals.

This allows you to easily fine-tune and visualize results pages to support strategic goals.

Your shopper also gets greater visibility of groups that appeal to the retailer. More info on this in our other blog post on searchandising!

Landing Pages

Search is at the epicenter for discovery. Incorporate a variety of content into your search function. Our algorithm doesn’t just search product listings, also content that isn’t included in your product feed, for example return policies.

This boosts visibility across all your content, and also makes it easier for your shoppers to discover it, reducing touchpoints thanks to direct navigation.

 

Campaigns

Automated merchandising also supports campaigns by giving you a holistic view of all their activities, allowing for simple and effective planning, implementation, and monitoring throughout the campaign’s lifecycle.

This allows you to easily fine-tune and visualies results pages to support strategy-wide goals. Your shoppers get greater visibility of specific product groups that are both relevant and that benefit your strategy. 

 

KPI tracking made simple

Measure success and derive insights via 360 degree analytics. With our Google Analytics integration, you can keep track of performance and make informed decisions based on a comprehensive set of data

 

Final thoughts

Merchandising doesn’t have to be a long and arduous process. Thanks to today’s ecommerce technology, retailers can leverage the power of automation to get all the benefits of advanced merchandising.

To learn more about merchandising with Findologic, get in touch today!

Harness the power of merchandising to increase product visibility and support business strategy.

Optimise your results pages. Control the hierarchy of particular products via our user-friendly backend in line with your business goals.

New feature: Search Insights

New feature: Search Insights

Marcel Krabath

New feature: Search Insights

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Learn more about our latest feature „Search Insights“: 

Search Insights helps our customers to debug search results and product listings on category pages on thier own. This helps them to understand the technology better and saves them a lot of time. Now Findologic customers are able to see in detail why certain products are found and shown based on specific search terms or categories. (so it works for product listings in search and navigation). They can add different parameters like user groups or sort parameters to the search request to see specific search results based on those parameters. All available data that is being exported for a certain product is shown in the Search Insghts interface – this helps our customers/agencies to optimize the whole user experience by optimizing their data based on this data analysis.

Hint from our Findologic experts: Shop Owners should – as always – focus on the Top Search Queries when doing their analysis proactively

Marcel Krabath

Marcel Krabath

Marcel is Operations Manager at FINDOLOGIC. He ensures that international processes run smoothly and are continuously developed. Sitting at the centre of the company, he coordinates daily processes between the Marketing, Sales & Office Management and guarantees the success of partnerships with technology partners and ecommerce agencies. Working towards the continuous improvement of business operations, Marcel also ensures the efficient and smooth running of the business in line with business goals.

Ecommerce Replatforming 101: Your Guide

Ecommerce Replatforming 101: Your Guide

Ecommerce Replatforming 101: Your Guide

Regardless of your current platform, over time it will begin to slow down, become limited in functionality or lack capabilities. Replatforming is the process of migrating from one commerce platform to another. Most of the time retailers do this to improve performance through enhancing capabilities, usability or cost. Onsite technologies and capabilities have become a catalyst for success within ecommerce – to remain competitive investing in your tech-stack and more specifically your commerce platform is an inevitable step.

Do we really need to replatform?

With many online stores boasting a range of functionalities that delight users, a platform with limited capabilities could be impeding performance.

8 common signs that it is time to replatform include:

  • Features and updates are hard to implement
  • Your store can’t handle a traffic increase or traffic peaks
  • Tech debt and maintenance costs
  • Limited features
  • Poor site speed and performance
  • Challenging integrations
  • Limited personalisation
  • Poor UX

While replatforming may be the only way to effectively overhaul your existing offering, unless there are significant technical burdens, organisations may be met with some resistance from tech staff. The project doesn’t come without its challenges, and there are risks associated with such comprehensive changes.

It may be that after performing an audit, you realise the long and complex process of replatforming isn’t necessary. If there are a few fundamental pain points you or your customers are experiencing, it may be possible to rebuild your tech stack by selecting relevant third-party vendors that address your needs.

Perform an audit

Before committing to a replatforming project, you’ll need to evaluate your existing setup and determine the pains you’re looking to resolve. As we previously mentioned, there are a number of reasons retailers look to replatform.

When performing an audit, it is often more logical to break up requirements into four categories: A technical audit, an SEO audit, a logistical audit and a customer experience audit.

From a technical perspective, it is useful to create a map of technologies that you already use. This enables a full evaluation of whether a new platform will be able to support these technologies, or if your day-to-day processes will require a review.

Beyond this, key considerations should include:

  • What are the must-have functionalities?
  • What technical requirements are there? Think about hosting, security and access
  • Which integrations does the platform need to support?
  • Can the platform support spikes in traffic and is it scalable?

Make sure to also consider logistical concerns within this audit. Including currency offerings, routing capabilities and supported channels.

An SEO audit is a comprehensive process consisting of thorough crawls, benchmarking activities and a URL structure and redirection plan. The SEO audit is critical to minimise damage to rankings when a new store is launched. By drilling into your site SEO, retailers can determine what they’re doing well, but also what areas will need improvement during the replatforming process. As mentioned above, migrating platform doesn’t come without its risks and an SEO audit can mitigate SEO lows by:

  • Prioritising pages for migration
  • Identifying underperforming pages to delete or update
  • Identifying duplicate content

Finally, looking into customer experiences, targeting customer interactions onsite as well as brand perception enables you to map a journey and identify areas that require improvement.

During this process, it might make sense to measure pain point severity to prioritise business actions. This is important because while an issue might affect a high amount of people it doesn’t take into account context. Perhaps 100 people are affected by an issue, however, this issue is minor, and will not cause any of those individuals to abandon your website.

Meanwhile, 2 people may be experiencing a very severe issue. So severe that they abandon your website and never return.

Selecting the right solutions(s)

Once an audit has been completed and core requirements have been defined, you can begin to research which providers fulfil your needs. A primary driver for replatforming is the need for additional functionality, however, besides all the bells and whistles, it is also important to consider viability and ease of integration.

Some key questions you should be asking vendors when you’re doing your research include:

  • Will the product, customer and order information be migrated safely to my new store?
  • Will the new platform plug into my existing and future third-party vendors seamlessly?
  • How customisable is it?

When performing your due diligence, it is also the ideal time to consider complementary third-party solutions.

Most retailers rely on best-of-breed technologies to fully optimise specific areas onsite. While a new commerce platform underpins a successful online store, individual, niche extensions have the ability to take performance to the next level and enable retailers to hit the ground running when they launch.

It is also the perfect opportunity to engage your preferred shopping platforms, understand their experiences with your considered third-party providers and benefit from their expertise and technical support when integrating with additional plugins.

Plan your Migration

There is no shortage of steps to consider when replatforming, but a majority of the most critical areas fall under one of these three pillars. Data migration, integration and UI/UX.

Data migration

Typically, data migration focuses on three areas: Product data, customer data and order data.

The first step in data migration is to identify the data you need to migrate. Consolidating and cleansing this data to ensure that it is relevant and then migrating the data in stages is preferred as it enables you to iron out any issues that may be necessary.

Integration

Navigating a number of integrations can be a burden. By dividing them up into categories based on their level of importance and complexity, setup and testing can be prioritised and a road map can be planned more effectively.

UI/UX

Once the background work that underpins the entire replatforming process has been planned, it is time to create the website interface. Within this stage, it is important to leverage buy personas and map out journeys in the context of your business. By combining this information with the perceived pain points you identified in your audit, you will be able to frame a UI and UX strategy with the customer front of mind.

Having the correct team top drive migration makes all the difference. It is a large project with a high-risk, high-reward process. There are a number of different expertise and multidisciplinary inputs required to ensure success, so defining responsibilities and having a clear roadmap is essential. Once a team has been assembled, create a detailed roadmap with defined tasks and timelines.

Prepare for launch

Following on from a detailed roadmap, preparing for launch should include a checklist to ensure that you’ve completed the necessary legwork and are ready for the transition.

In addition, upon launch, some key functionalities will need to be tested such as checkout, notifications and reporting.

By following these steps retailers can mitigate risk and hit the ground running when they launch on their new platform. It is an intimidating process but done correctly and alongside the right vendors has the power to supercharge your business.

Rachel is a Content Marketing Specialist, creating insightful materials on all things eCommerce, tech and Findologic that drive growth and awareness. Rachel has a wide understanding of the tech space, before joining Findologic, she produced content for global FinTech publications as well as working closely with industry leaders on a range of marketing initiatives.

3 Strategic Projects for your 2022 E-commerce Agenda

3 Strategic Projects for your 2022 E-commerce Agenda

3 Strategic Projects for your 2022 E-commerce Agenda

The success of e-commerce in 2021 doesn’t mean that retailers can rest easy and rely on consistent growth. In 2022, favoured online shops will be those who re-engineer eCommerce strategies towards tech and behavioural focussed operations, investing in their digital offerings rather than seeing it as an unnecessary expense due to a successful previous year. Setting yourself up for success by focussing on milestone projects such as those set out in this article offers guidance. After deciding on milestone projects, retailers can begin looking at the company roadmap on a more granular level.

Let’s look at three robust strategies that should form the basis of 2022’s agenda.

  1. Create an Ecosystem of Tech Partners

Leveraging technology vendors to build an ecosystem is critical. With 83% of shoppers reporting a “mediocre” overall user experience, there is a window of opportunity to stand out that can only be achieved by supercharging existing operations, most commonly and easily done though third-party providers.

Best-of-breed platforms allow retailers to achieve a gold-standard CX, which they wouldn’t have otherwise had the time, money or resources to create or implement within niche areas. Preferably this should be done through APIs – decoupling the front and back end and having them talk to one another via APIs gives retailers more flexibility to create unique experiences for their visitors and eliminate boundaries. As part of a network, transferred information isn’t met with roadblocks and can instead seamlessly travel back and forth for superfast performance.

From onsite optimisations, to acquisition and supply chain management, both internal and customer facing operations can be improved for operational excellence.

Whether you already have a fully operational headless architecture, or are looking to develop one, there are critical areas that play an essential role in any e-commerce’s tech stack. The enormous pool of plugins and optimisations leave many organisations with a dilemma – which ones are essential and which are nice to have?  

Moving forward, a headless architecture is clearly favourable and has assisted thousands of merchants in successfully scaling and delivering cutting-edge, and agile experiences, so researching where you need to deploy third party technologies and level up performance in 2022 should be on the corporate agenda.

  1. Think Omnichannel 

When it comes to brand visibility, widening the net in which shoppers can discover your brand is critical and forming a robust omnichannel strategy in 2022 will be instrumental to success. Channels like product reviews or Instagram advertising are just the beginning and expanding coverage on a now more than ever, digitally mature society is a catalyst for growth.

Drilling into data and analysing how behaviours change should be the protocol when looking to deliver end-to-end digital experiences. Wherever your customers buy, expanding your reach to include not only your online store or social channels but also integrating channels such as fulfilment or management tools will help to create a flexible buying model. Harnessing technologies to help manage the complexities that come with an omnichannel strategy and look at the whole strategy more holistically is a consideration. This is particularly important when you consider that every touchpoint and channel must be connected and form a cohesive journey – this is the main distinction between an omnichannel strategy and a multichannel strategy.

While we consider onsite experience a requisite, this must be delivered across all channels for a consistently good experience throughout the customer journey.

To get the most out of omnichannel, retailers need to focus on the following:

  • Existing valuable channels
  • What their buyer journey looks like
  • Personalising experiences
  • Utilising all of their data
  • Increasing brand awareness

Creating an omnichannel experience can help bridge the gaps between existing channels, as well as benefiting from new ones. But referring back to ‘Creating an Ecosystem of Partners’, it is important to recognise the power of third party tools when navigating more complex strategies.

  1. Identify and Prioritise your Pain Points

E-commerce is fast-paced and there seems to be endless optimisations promising to improve customer experience and boost revenue. Prioritising areas for improvement when looking to supercharge end-to-end activities is essential when looking for high-impact solutions.

A go to methodology that allows you to maximise on the decisions you make as an organisation should be pinned down for use throughout 2022. By assessing which areas are the most high-severity and impeding performance, there is more overall transparency about what value optimisations will drive.

While metrics such as pain point frequency may sit at the epicentre of analysis, they should not be taken at face value. 

For example, perhaps your shoppers don’t receive relevant recommendations on your website and this affects every visitor – yes it is annoying but it doesn’t stop shoppers from discovering products. Meanwhile, 10% of your visitors experience a deadend when they misspell a search query and abort your website.

Instinctively, transformational leaders may look to prioritise the deployment of recommendations as it affects more people; however, the 10% who experienced a deadend incurred a higher consequence as the chance of conversion was lost.

Leaders can begin to shape prioritisation framework by:

  • Defining users and customer journeys
  • Deciding which metrics they want to measure
  • Proposing a scoring system to measure pain points
  • Measuring impact
  • Comparing this against internal thresholds

Retailers can understand more about how to action each framework stage here.

There is no silver bullet when looking to prioritise business processes, their unique requirements or perceived pain points. That said, standardising a scoring system that can be applied across the organisation enables more informed decision making and higher returns on investment. And, when looking to justify activities to gain organisational buy-in, internal decision-makers can quantify the potential uplift thanks to a more streamlined and effective process.

Rachel is a Content Marketing Specialist, creating insightful materials on all things eCommerce, tech and Findologic that drive growth and awareness. Rachel has a wide understanding of the tech space, before joining Findologic, she produced content for global FinTech publications as well as working closely with industry leaders on a range of marketing initiatives.

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