Customer Analytics

Are You Ready to Be a Searchandiser?

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In the world of retail, Commerce has become a significant revenue source, delivery channel and marketing vehicle. One that not only replaced the old fashioned catalog and telesales models, but also provides integral value to the overall shopping experience.

The Commerce channel, which includes desktop, mobile and even social presence, serves several important purposes. It is:

  • a source of product information and content
  • a transaction and order taking mechanism
  • a customer service and communication protocol
  • inspiration and entertainment

All of these interact with, not only the consumers themselves, but also other channels that retailers sell from. At the center of it all are the products and the assortment – the main reason why a shopper would come to a particular retailer.

Traditionally, merchants are in charge of products, marketers are responsible for promotions and shopper experience and commerce operation teams manage the commerce channel. More increasingly, these roles are converging.

According to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark, in digital channels, consumer attention continues to decline. This includes the continued rise of shopping cart abandonment (up to 74%) and site bounce rate (up to 35.6%) as well as decreased session length (down to 6:42).

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According to an IBM global retail consumer study titled Shopper Disrupted – Retailing through the Noise, more shoppers enjoy shopping online and prefer shopping online, yet aren’t doing enough of it due to unmet expectations (up to 17% difference). This indicates opportunities on the part of retailers to do a better job meeting shoppers’ expectations.

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In order to address the increased high expectations on the part of the shoppers, those who manage the digital commerce channels need to be merchants, marketers as well as savvy digital operation experts—all at the same time. That, is what this new role, Searchandiser is about.

A Searchandiser is someone who combines the insights and understanding of the customer shopping journey with the retailer’s digital capabilities to present the best products, offers and experience. He or she formulates the presentation of products, marketing offers and promotions, and reviews analytics reports and benchmarks to understand the conversion funnel, then jumps in to fix issues when something goes awry.

Back in the days when I worked at a retailer managing a team of Searchandisers, we had to pull data and information from multiple systems, interpret it and do analysis in Excel, use intuition to plan for the best course of action then make requests for technical teams to implement what we wanted – whether a promotional event or a shopping cart glitch fix. The cycle is long, often days, if not weeks, before we can execute a change.

Fast forward to 2015, the Serchandiser’s job has become much more real-time and proactive. Real-time pricing updates, social media campaigns to drive online traffic and segmented marketing are now routine tasks that have to be handled. Unfortunately, the tools have not progressed nearly as fast and drastically as the shoppers’ expectations.

This is why the IBM Commerce team decided to focus on a set of tools that allow business users to quickly pull data and insights from multiple sources then architect responses or campaigns to execute. These tools include:

Upon reviewing them, I wish I were back at my old Serchandiser job again. As a retailer, these tools would open up so many opportunities for me to analyze and influence a shopper’s journey and interaction with my brand. I would have so much data and insight to inform my decisions, and the ability to map out the course of action to execute… and then watch it in action!

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