Product data in e-commerce merchandizing
Two main data groups are essential for merchandizing – descriptions and inventory data.
Product descriptions data
Data describing the products helps customers understand the product qualities to decide if it matches their needs. What is needed can vary for different types of products, as some are visually driven, and others need to meet specifications:
- Description and name
- Image and videos
- Specifications: sizes, measurements of lengths, and volume
- Variations in colors, materials
Challenges with this data can be that it can come from various sources and very often needs cleaning to make sense to display to shoppers. At the same time, it often lacks in-depth data that help systematically make sense of what products belong together, how and when somebody can use them, etc. The job of a merchandizer can benefit and be made easier with processes to clean and enrich product description data.
For a merchandizer, understanding the lifecycle of a product is vital. You want to promote new products a little extra to gain traction, have strategies for sales, or ensure that products that are out of stock in a particular variation do not surface when it doesn’t make sense. In some vertical or international circumstances, data on how and when the product can be shipped to the customer can matter.
Data that help with this has to do with your inventory of products:
- Number of products in stock
- Newness of the product
- Shipping details
Curation, campaigns, and promotions
Category listings and curated landing pages
The standard on almost all e-commerce sites today is category pages that help visitors understand the assortment available. Having this shown in a clean way that naturally adapts as you filter the assortment has come to be expected and requires minimal effort and cognitive load on the shopper’s side. Creating and maintaining these category pages sits at the heart of the e-commerce merchandizer’s tasks, ensuring the right products appear on the right page.
This includes departmental pages with specific product categories but can also be more curated mixtures of products – showing off a temporary collection or inspirational seasonal selections displayed on landing pages.
Keeping up with these pages and growing assortments can be a massive mountain to climb for merchandizers, and here is where having innovative exposure strategies and automation comes in. More about that in the section “Product life cycle, automation, and trends.”
Promoting and demoting
Ensuring that certain products get shown first or become a little more complicated to find in e-commerce terms often referred to as boost or bury. Either giving a selection of products an increase on how often or high in product listings they get shown or the opposite. This way of working is common for upcoming targeted campaigns, stock clearance of specific products, or promoting certain brands or types of products.
Burying can be for products out of season but still in stock or that the retailer carries but may want to put on something other than the top shelf.
Shared target audiences between merchandizers and marketing teams
Retailers risk working too much in silos. Where orchestrating campaigns targeting groups of customers between the online shop, retargeting campaigns, and in-store treatment when the customer comes in can be hard to achieve, it comes down to having a shared view and access to the data.
A customer data platform built with omnichannel retailers in mind and closely tied to your merchandizer toolset is a great start. When the target audience data can be shared between campaign and e-commerce promotions, ensuring you have a shared understanding of your bargain hunters and your luxury product shopper, you can be sure the right products get promoted to the right customer.