Optimizing Merchandising Tools to Drive Sales and Brand Equity in 2014

A recent executive brief on Retail TouchPoints summarizes the findings from Retail Systems Research (RSR) 2013 Merchandising Benchmark Report. The brief gives an overview of a webinar by Retail TouchPoints that featured RSR co-founder and managing partner Paula Rosenblum, and John Simon, CEO of Predictix. According to the report, 90% of retailers are aware that they need to use merchandising tools for their business, but don’t know how to optimize them. In this blog post, we will talk more about retailers’ pain points and also how they can be addressed. The retail game is changing fast in 2014 and everyone needs to be up to speed in order to stay relevant.

At NRF2014 (National Retail Federation’s annual conference), retail executives discussed the present and future of the brick and mortar store. Today’s consumer is living in a hyper-connected world with smartphones, tablets, wearables, and other gadgets revolutionizing the shopping experience. If the goal is to make people come to a brick and mortar store and buy things, the in-store experience has to be far more social, tactile, and gratifying. Innovation and creativity in reaching out to consumers will be key to thriving in this ever-changing retail environment.

Rebecca Minkoff, of Rebecca Minkoff, stressed the importance of the in-store service experience. For certain products, consumers still crave the customized in-person experience. For that purpose, retailers need to employ competent staff that have in-depth product information. But where do you get that deep product information? How do you know what customers want, what the current trends are, or what your competitors are doing? The right merchandizing tool will give you all the information you need about your products, your competitors’ products, promotions, etc. You need this information in order to form a solid retail strategy.

Rosenblum said that more than half of the retailers surveyed by RSR admitted that they are not conversant with merchandising tools and techniques. Here are some statistics showing the percentage of familiarity with particular types of tools:

  • Forecasting (52%)
  • Assortment optimization (45%)
  • Promotion optimization (45%)
  • Lifecycle price optimization (30%)

As part of the solution, the brief suggested that retailers should consider cloud or SaaS based applications for effective personalization and targeted segmentation. 2014 is going to be all about personalization/customization and that requires unlimited access to consumer and product data. This cannot be achieved through physical data centers that retailers may currently be using. These centers cannot keep updating product information the way that SaaS or cloud-based applications can, hence negatively affecting depth of information provided.

If we want consumers to buy more when they visit a store, we need to provide them with a seamless experience across all points of contact whether it is the brick and mortar store, online marketplace, or mobile apps. At Indix, we are working hard at addressing these particular pain points. We are building the world’s largest and deepest product database to help retailers and brands draw actionable insights, which can help them devise improved strategies that drive sales and brand equity. As complex as this task is, our technical team is committed to providing a smooth and efficient user experience. Our user interface is highly visual in presentation, and easy to use and navigate. So retailers can enjoy the benefits of real time product information across various categories and attributes. There’s no looking back now!

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