Monday, 3 November 2014

Ways of Working 2

Acne Lambswool Jumper £230, Caron Piu Bellodgia Eau de Parfum £105, House of Hackney Palmeral Teapot £70, Deborah Lippmann Nail Polish Weird Science £16, Marni Felt Sandals £355

So recently I discussed how I've been adopting two strategies when merchandising. The first strategy is, of course, data-driven: number of sales, of clicks... Now the second strategy - style, or function, or colour, etc. - isn't chosen at random. But instinct definitely comes into it. I try to intuit the most common deciding factor when purchasing the products on a certain page and I work with that.

For example, on a page of serious hiking rucksacks customers are likely to be influenced by technical criteria - capacity, number of compartments, ergonomic design of the straps... While for a page of little daysacks, the look of the bag - colour, print, etc. - might be more important.

Trail and error is of course very useful when selecting a second strategy. And market research no doubt sheds a lot of light.

I looked at the website of one of my favourite department stores, to see if there was any evidence of this shopping-habits-influenced merchandising on their pages: 

I would have expected the skincare pages to be organised by function. They started with a row of anti-aging concentrates/creams, but after this my impression was that they were organised by sales. You saw several cleansers, exfoliants, etc. together at times, but it could have been chance.
There were eight categories to click into and, in the first two of these, there were four subcategories. On the category pages, the products seemed to be grouped by brand, with a couple of groupings for each brand. Perhaps a high percentage of customers interact with these categories - making the layout of the All page less important. And perhaps the customers also know what brand they are looking for before they arrive at the site, and so don't need to compare different makes of moisturiser... Alternatively, this grouping by brand could just be the result of the product upload process!
You could filter by price, colour (a bit irrelevant here but I suppose it has to be the same for everything - lipstick to skincare) and again  brand. There were two options by which you could sort (price and newness).

The nail varnishes, which I would have thought should be organised by colour, were grouped by brand and then - or they seemed to be anyway - colour. At the top of the page there were some commercial-looking reds and a peach, then some pinks and purples, these were followed by metallics and some rich blues/greens, then primary colours, then pastels and so on.

I wondered whether I would see the candles ordered by fragrance-type - fresh, floral, woody, etc. I found that they were grouped by brand and then there was some evidence of the floral scents all being together, with the fresh scents after and the oriental scents after that, though it could have been chance. There were also some lip balms and soaps in with the home fragrances, which was a bit confusing.

Without knowing more about their sales and systems, it's difficult to say whether this retailer merchandises according to shopping habits for particular products. But I have a feeling they might.

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