Since the birth of eCommerce, three features of the typical retail website have prevailed. Incredibly, they still force merchandisers to compromise – often at the expense of sales and bottom line.
These are the three elements that merchandisers needs to balance, if they can:
- Finite real estate
Screen real estate is not only finite. When measured per visitor, it is tiny.
Compared to physical stores or paper catalogues, levels of product exposure online represent a fraction of most retailers’ actual offering. As a result, selling online isn’t like physical retail – the space available for merchandising is extraordinarily limited.
- Infinite merchandising options
Given the scale of many retailers’ product catalogues these days, the range of options in terms of promoting and merchandising products is virtually limitless.
The maths here is straightforward, yet mind-boggling. Take even a relatively modest category of 500 products and the total possible display permutations are practically endless: a number running to 1134 digits.
- The zero-sum game of manual merchandising
These two conflicting issues mean that traditional, manual online merchandising amounts to a zero-sum game – the promotion of one product inevitably leads to the demotion of other products or campaigns. One in, one out – so how do you work out which is the best course of action?
In our paper ‘How to win online retail’s zero-sum game’, Michael Mokhberi looks at how innovative retailers are taking a new approach to merchandising – and approach that is enabling them to overcome these challenges.