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Improve product findability, improve conversion

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Julie Barile, Sophelle

Julie Barile will be offering website consulting during Dr. Is In at the Shop.org Digital Experience Workshop, July 18-20 in California.

Regardless of how good a product is or how great the customer service might be, if shoppers can’t find the product they’re looking for from one retailer, they’ll move on to the next. While it’s essential in today’s competitive retail environment to instantly connect customers to what they want, the reality of doing so is complex for retailers. The issue is threaded throughout a retailer’s entire ecosystem — merchandisers who share product information, marketers who work on personalization, user experience designers who present product information online and store associates who need access to product information to assist customers.

At the upcoming Shop.org Digital Experience Workshop, a number of e-commerce experts will offer website advice to retailers during individual consultations. We chatted with site consultant Julie Barile, digital commerce practice director for retail strategy and implementation services firm Sophelle, to find out what was top of mind for the company's clients. Product findability stood out as a critical issue. Here’s what retailers need to consider.

Why is product findability such an important issue for retailers?

Product findability is how retailers connect the right person with the right product at the right time. Done well, the shopping experience is fun and engaging. Done poorly, it creates frustration and potential attrition. Leading retailers make product findability a critical part of the customer journey.

What are some of the most common challenges that retailers face in improving product findability?

Some of the most common product findability challenges are poor customer and product data, misaligned processes and siloed systems. Accurate data must be shared across the enterprise so there is “one version of the truth.” Retailers need coordinated processes to deliver a frictionless experience and tightly integrated systems to make connections as close to real time as possible.

What are the key areas within a retail organization that should focus on this issue?

Since product findability affects many business processes and systems, it needs to be a coordinated effort between all business and operational functions. It is important that retailers establish their requirements in delivering seamless product findability to ensure the right systems and processes exist to support it across channels.

What are the first steps retailers should take in order to improve product findability?

First, assess the state of product and customer data to determine if it is ideally configured and accessible to support product findability efforts across channels. Second, ensure that existing systems are being fully utilized to support product findability. If there are gaps between the current and desired product findability state, additional technology solutions may be needed. And third, test, measure and learn. Shopping habits are changing quickly, and product findability efforts require continual refinement. 

As a “site doctor” at the upcoming Shop.org Digital Experience Workshop, you’ll be giving some specific advice for individual retail websites. What’s a quick-win, low investment tip for improving e-commerce sites?

Retailers always want to improve conversion, and one of the first things we will look at is the site navigation including main navigation, filters and facets. These functions give shoppers visibility into the depth and breadth of the retailer’s product offering and are key supporting functions of product findability. Take a customer-centric approach and ask if the structure and content of the site navigation matches the way consumers think about and shop for your products.


Get personalized tips and tactics at the Shop.org Digital Experience Workshop, July 18 – 20 in Southern California.

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