What’s an online merchandiser?
In the ever-expanding world of e-commerce, it’s one of the most sought-after positions today. And it’s absolutely critical to the success of any e-commerce operation or store.
But despite the rise in this role and its importance, many e-commerce operations remain under-staffed – or even un-staffed – when it comes to this vital position.
In the most traditional sense of the term, merchandising has mostly been about the product in the shelf – and making sure it stays stocked and visible. Put simply, it has to do with what’s available for purchase inside the store.
But upon closer inspection of the merchandise, one realizes that the presentation is every bit as important as the product. Possibly even more important. After all, consumers must often be compelled to make a purchase. Sure, many enter a store (whether it’s a brick-and-mortar shop or an online e-store) with clear purchase intentions and desires. But an “impulse purchase” is a very real thing, and the way products are presented and displayed inside a store makes a big difference in that store’s success.
Take a look, for example, at Apple’s incredibly popular Apple Stores. Modeled in part after modern museums, the product is presented in an almost ethereal, reverential manner. It’s all very clean and bright and sharp inside an Apple Store, with the perfect mix of the brand’s trademark minimalism and rich detail on display. The bright white lighting illuminates the product displays, drawing the consumer’s eye and no doubt triggering an untold number of impulse purchases and “up sells” along the journey through the store.
When it comes to an online, e-commerce operation or store, today’s online merchandiser is wise to follow a similarly streamlined, intuitive and engaging design. And to maximize the online customer’s experience, today’s online merchandiser is boosted by a rich and full set of tools. Sophisticated search tools. Product recommendation software. Product videos. Side-by-side product comparisions. Enhanced visualization tools. Reviews and ratings. And more.
Site analytics help online merchants identify how placement and presentation decisions are impacting conversion, basket size and sales. Site administration tools have advanced enough to assist even non tech-savvy merchants in making presentation changes without much hassle. A/B testing tools enable ongoing testing, learning and optimizing what works best. More than ever before, online merchants are focused on site productivity – achieving maximum product engagement, conversion and sales per order.
If you are currently operating an online e-commerce store, and you don’t have at least one strong, smart person in the role of online merchandiser, chances are that you’re missing an opportunity to present products in a more compelling way. Not to mention chances to improve your conversion rate and increase your average order size. He or she doesn’t have to be a total “tech head” – but they have to be comfortable doing things in a technology-driven environment, using tech tools. Of course, it helps if they have experience having worked in a physical store and interacting with real, live people and customers too.
If your assortment is sizable, you need a team of these people that is responsible for each of your major categories. If you’ve purchased product recommendation tools or other point solutions to optimize your site, you might not be receiving your maximum value without good site merchants mining the data, fine-tuning the business rules and driving superior results.
In other words, no matter how much money you’re spending on marketing, you’re missing out on major opportunities if your site isn’t merchandised in an intelligent and efficient manner.
When it comes to e-commerce success, merchandising matters. A lot.