06 May 2021

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Q&A with Searchspring – Automated Merchandising


Automated merchandising is a valuable solution for any eCommerce store. It allows merchants to take control of their online shopping experiences and dynamically boost and arrange products based on different factors. But, what are the benefits of automated merchandising? What are the best practices eCommerce stores should put in place for an optimised performance?

5874 Commerce caught up with Searchspring to hear what they had to say on some frequently-asked questions surrounding automated merchandising in eCommerce. Check out the full Q&A below.

What is Automated Merchandising?

Automated merchandising takes the manual work out of merchandising your online store. By setting dynamic rules that do the heavy lifting for you, a merchandising solution can automate the product arrangement on your search and category pages in a way that aligns with both your business goals and your shoppers’ expectations.

For example, you might set a site-wide, global boost rule that says your house brand should always appear first on PLPs. However, let’s say you’re running a sale in a particular category, and you want to offload last season’s inventory for that product line. An effective merchandising solution will give you the flexibility and control to set a different boost rule for that individual page, allowing you to promote your sale inventory for a scheduled period of time before reverting back to your global rules.

This is just one example. Automated merchandising allows you to boost and promote products based on a variety of factors. Likewise, it also gives you the power to dynamically remove or demote certain products as they go out of stock or when sizing availability becomes limited, for example.

Prefer to let the algorithms do the work? No problem, an intelligent solution will dynamically populate PLPs in a product order that makes sense based on shopper behaviour.

What are the differences Between Traditional Merchandising and eCommerce Merchandising

Ecommerce merchandising essentially sets out to achieve the same goals as traditional merchandising: get the right product in front of the right shopper at the right time. The only differences are in how you execute on campaigns. In fact, online merchandising can take a lot of inspiration from how brick-and-mortar retailers have been merchandising their stores for years.

In store, the window display is key to inviting shoppers to browse. Online, this is the equivalent to your homepage. Ensure it’s merchandised with eye-catching banners, offers, and more to draw the customer in. From there, a brick-and-mortar shopper will step inside and almost subconsciously understand the layout of the store, including where they should go to find the relevant department for them. Online, your site navigation does the same thing. Is it easy to use? Are your facets and filters relevant to the products the shopper is viewing? Can the site visitor effortlessly locate the results they’re looking for?

Don’t forget your cross and upselling opportunities. In store, similar styles and complementary accessories are often displayed next to each other to encourage shoppers to “complete the look” and make additional purchases. Online merchandising allows you to do the same thing by taking control of product display and arranging items in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Combined with a recommendations tool, you can take advantage of cross-selling opportunities right on the PDP. Go one step further and replicate those last minute impulse buys we often make while waiting in line by adding final product suggestions to your checkout page.

What eCommerce Challenges Can Automation Help With?

Some of the challenges an automated merchandising solution allows you to overcome include:

  • Manual or limited merchandising abilities in your native ecommerce platform
  • A lack of control over product order and arrangement
  • Irrelevant or out-of-stock products taking up valuable real estate
  • Limited default facet, filter, and sort options
  • A lack of campaign scheduling or pre-merchandising abilities

eCommerce Merchandising Automation: What are the benefits?

Merchandising automation saves online retailers time, eliminates manual work, and allows you to reclaim control over product display.

Retailers can also gain valuable insights into shopper behavior and further iterate on campaigns with reporting and A/B testing.

Keep an eye on your search and product insights to identify opportunities for new merchandising campaigns, then A/B test different variations to ensure you’re always delivering campaigns that convert.

Can automated merchandising be omnichannel?

Your online merchandising should absolutely coincide with any promotions you may be running elsewhere. If you’re holding an in-store sale, for example, your digital banners and offers should match the ones you have at your brick-and-mortar location.

Automation can come into play when scheduling these campaigns. If your sale is a limited time, one-day-only event, it’s reasonably easy to set up your physical store accordingly. More than likely, you’ll arrange sale signage and product displays the night before, and then move everything back into place when the store closes the next day. Online, there is more room for error, especially if you manually merchandise your store on the morning of the sale.

By creating and pre-scheduling merchandised landing pages or campaigns to begin and end at specific times, you can deliver a consistent omnichannel merchandising experience with precision and confidence (without having to manually restore your standard merchandising at midnight).

5 Automated Merchandising best practices

  1. Set up boost rules that make sense for your shopper and your business. There is no one-size-fits-all approach – your merchandising automation should align closely with your wider business goals.
  2. Use automated merchandising to ensure changing inventory levels are quickly reflected on the front end of your site. Take the manual work out of removing and restoring products as they go in and out of stock.
  3. Keep up-to-date on trends and shifts in your market, and use automated merchandising to quickly update your campaigns in response. Keep your site fresh so new shoppers are intrigued and repeat shoppers stay engaged.
  4. Use learnings from data and performance to consistently make improvements to your merchandising campaigns and shopping experience.
  5. Equip yourself with the tools to make this easy. Your merchandising solution should be intuitive and straightforward to use, and it should enable you to make site-wide changes in a matter of clicks.

Choosing a Searchspring Partner

Searchspring is on a mission to give eCommerce teams superpowers. They give the worlds’ most creative online brands the user-friendly search, merchandising, personalisation, and analytics tools they need to increase conversion and curate unique shopping experiences.

Visit the Searchspring website here for more information.

5874 are experienced Searchspring partners and can help integrate the software into your current system. Give us a call on 0121 369 5874 or email success@5874commerce.com for more information.




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