Tips for More Effective Merchandising
You do this through dashboards, which are going to have to be built internally. These dashboards should be databases, not spreadsheets, Oliver said. He showed the audience one of his dashboards — it tells him all he needs to know about a certain product (e.g., units sold, at what price, when it was sold) in one page — as an example of how simple a database can be. If we figured out spreadsheets, we can figure out databases, Oliver said, noting that they're nothing more than flat spreadsheets.
3. Develop web merchants. While your marketing team may want to automate all of your company's web merchandising, an algorithm can't listen to a customer, Oliver said, again citing the melon cradle kit that was developed as a direct result of customer interaction. In that same vein, online product reviews are a key tool enabling web merchants to listen to their customers. Web merchants should be passing along the insights gained from these reviews to their product suppliers.
Furthermore, just because you have catalog merchants doesn't mean they'll be effective web merchants, Oliver said. He questions the logic of using catalog methodologies to drive web-based decisions. Taxonomy, the science of classification, for example, is one skill that a web merchant is likely to possess that a merchandiser working with catalogs all their career won't have.
Oliver closed his presentation by giving attendees his golden rule to merchandising: There are no bad products, only bad prices. Pricing should not be based on the cost of a product, but on the customer's perceived value of that product.