July 10, 2003, 12:00 AM

Real-time sales data help guide merchandising at Personalcreations.com

By knowing what’s selling when, the e-retailer of personalized products elevates winners for more online exposure and swaps out featured products that underperform. Conversions are up 28% over last year.

Real-time product sales data from NetIQ Corp.’s WebTrends reporting service has helped guide merchandising decisions at Personalcreations.com, contributing to an overall conversion rate that’s risen 28% since last October, president of e-commerce and new business development Geoff Smith tells InternetRetailer.com

 

Personalcreations.com, the e-commerce arm of Personal Creations, a catalog provider of consumer products that can be personalized with names or photos, is the company’s fastest-growing business segment and now accounts for about 47% of revenues, up from 35% last year. With some 1,500 products, Smith says, the analytics tool lets him view the top-selling items in real time and instantly adjust online product positioning accordingly. “For example, if I see that certain products are really taking off, I can look at how they are merchandised on the site. If they are buried on the site and still doing well, then I know that by bringing that product up to a higher page ranking we can increase sales on it,” he says.

 

A case in point is consumer response to e-mail on clearance items that went out this week, Smith says. Sales of a computer-shaped Christmas tree ornament that wasn’t featured in the e-mail, but in site’s sale area, suddenly lifted after the e-mail was distributed. “It wasn’t even on the first or second page of the sales category, but on page three or four,” says Smith. “By seeing that they were doing well without our giving them very much attention, we knew we should bring them up to the front page. Within minutes we were able to log on, go into the site and bring those ornaments up to the top sales page. Then, they did even better,” he says.

 

The real-time sales data also help guide decisions on what not to feature. A new product, a wedding album, was predicted to be a winner for the site and elevated to a featured product, but after two days Smith saw it wasn’t moving. Rather than waste the prominent space, Smith replaced the album with another product, a wedding afghan, that hadn’t been given featured product status but was nevertheless already doing well.

 

“That’s the great thing about being in the web business,” says Smith. “My colleagues in the catalog business have to wait and hope, but on the web site, we can react right away and control some of these things.”

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