January 06, 2016

The Online Marketer Doesn't Care

I sat in a meeting. A conversation followed:
  • Merchant = "I have yet to see my products featured on the home page. What is up with that?"
  • Marketer = "They've been appearing on various home pages for a month."
  • Merchant = "But not my home page. Why?"
  • Marketer = "Do you buy your own products?"
  • Merchant = "No."
  • Marketer = "Every customer sees a unique merchandise assortment based on prior purchase history, prior desktop/laptop visits, prior app visits, prior email clicks, social and data overlays, and predicted future preferences."
  • Merchant = "Can we adjust the algorithm just a bit to give my merchandise more exposure"?
  • Marketer = "Do you like earning less profit?"
  • Merchant = "Not really."
  • Marketer = "Then you already know the answer to your question."
  • Merchant = "Uh huh."
Yup, that happened ... in a meeting I recently sat in.

This happened in a recent catalog meeting.
  • Merchant = "How do we expose the customer to more of my products?'
  • Marketer = "As you know, we align email and online marketing and the home page and key landing pages and our catalog, so that we have a great customer experience."
  • Merchant = "So I cannot get my products on the home page?"
  • Marketer = "No, but we could get you a week sometime in Fall 2016. Why not attend the promotional calendar meeting and see if you can make magic happen?"
  • Merchant = "Ok, thanks!"
Yup, that happened ... in a meeting I recently sat in.

E-commerce professionals have no problem personalizing the assortment. They don't think twice about it. They simply don't care. It doesn't matter that a customer won't see a product category. It doesn't matter that it becomes much harder to forecast demand at an item level.

What matters is that the personalized merchandise assortment yields a 20% to 50% gain in productivity. That gain in productivity means that more money can be spent on online marketing, which means that more new customers are acquired.

Catalogers have been trained to think opposite ... they align all channels, and in the process, sacrifice 20% to 50% of a typical online conversion rate, while slowing down progress to a crawl.

It's hard to compete when you are planning a one-size-fits-all strategy for Fall 2016 when your e-commerce competition are planning to react to tomorrow morning's tests tomorrow afternoon.