September 09, 2021

Merchandise / Customer Collision

In a recent e-commerce project, it became clear that Google was determining what the e-commerce brand would offer, going forward. This has been true for years, but it really accelerated once COVID hit. Look at a rank-ordering of your best sellers by marketing channel (you do this, right?), and you'll see that Google is really pushing a different agenda than are other marketing channels. Google tells your merchants what to sell. If Search is 20% of your annual sales, Google is working on taking over your merchandising team. Yes, I realize you don't believe me.

In Retail, the customer willing to shop in-store is different today than two years ago. How you merchandise a store is fundamentally different than how you merchandise your online presence. The omnichannel gurus who want sameness in every channel have led you into a vendor-fueled cul-de-sac. Some customers want to shop in stores, and their needs post-COVID are fundamentally different than are the needs of the online customer.

In catalog marketing, your paper partners and industry consultants and co-op reps steered you to a 65+ year old customer who won't buy unless you send paper to the customer. What on Earth are you going to do going forward when you don't have paper available and you try to sell merchandise that a 67 year old woman likes to a 37 year old woman on social or searching via Google? That dynamic isn't going to work, is it? Imagine the 2-3 year pain window you'll have trying to sell merchandise that retired men/women like to customers thirty years younger?

Regardless of your business, there is a merchandise / customer collision awaiting, just around the corner. Your job is to manage the collision so that there aren't bigger problems. Do just that, ok?

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