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5 Ways for Site Merchandisers to Become Strategic Influencers


Typically, merchandisers have a very “Reactive” procedure; you get influenced from the buying team, email marketing, the marketing promotion calendar, and Year-Over-Year reports telling you how you should be merchandising your category pages and products. Some of these decisions are based on data, others on gut instinct, and others on past reports from other teams that aren’t influencing the website itself.
 
Now imagine that you had a storefront and interviewed not only the people at the checkout-counter, but also every person that left the store and asked them “What could we have done different for you?” or “Was it easy to find what you were looking for?” Having that type of information would allow you to become a “Proactive” vs “Reactive” merchandiser.
 
What if you could give feedback to the buying and marketing teams on what products to promote or what types of products are selling based on real-live customer data?
 
Here’s how you start:

  1. Start prioritizing what your top opportunities are
    Look for the big wins, can you re-sort New Arrivals or put Best Sellers near the top of the grid? Are your data tools recommending to boost and bury certain products on your seasonal category page? Start with simple action steps and start collecting and tracking the data that help support your decisions and show how much impact your choices make.

  2. Start relying more on data, as well as intuition
    Your gut instinct can be right, but why not have data prove that your gut was telling you the right thing? This will help back your decisions to other counterparts and further explain why you believe it’s the right direction to make an impact.

  3. Prioritize your week the same way every week. 
    Learn to better answer the questions other team members ask you with data behind it. Where is this product most popular?? Which landing pages drive the most sales? Can you decipher the top selling products from particular category? Having a go-to set of data that you track every week helps to set priorities and targets, give data-driven answers that can influence strategies across departments, and show the impact of your merchandising work over time.

  4. Be proactive with your prioritizing
    Instead of being reactive to how other people want you to prioritize your week, be proactive by getting ahead of game and make suggestions based on data. Be able to tell them what you’re prioritizing and why you’re doing so.

  5. Create a solid process
    Start to work data into your day-to-day workflow instead of interrupting your day with new reports or steps to take. Make it a habit to incorporate customer site behavior as a priority and base your immediate plan of action off of it.

Starting with these tips will help you become cross-functional and help other teams that impact one another. You’ll also be able to put yourself in your customers’ shoes by following their buying behavior by looking at data, leading to deeper customer empathy, if you will.
 
More responsibility is falling on merchandisers as ecommerce increasingly grabs more shares of retail sales. The site can fall within your hands and you’re being asked to provide data to backup gut decision-making. At the end of the day, you can’t be 100% knowledgeable of every category and product on your site, so rely on machine learning to do the heavy lifting and let your creative intuition tell the story for the customer across the site. A machine can’t tell the customer journey, but it will help guide you to tell the most relevant story along the way.

 

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