CEO Sharon Price John says Build-A-Bear’s old e-commerce system is a big reason for disappointing online sales in December.
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Wahl used to work in marketing; her current merchandising position was created about a year ago to help marketers and buyers better work together. She found that by joining the two disparate worlds, she could help the marketing staff create demand for the inventory the buyers had put together.
Using web analytics, Wahl and her colleagues can see where customers come from, what search terms they use on the Bare Necessities site, how they navigate through the site and which affiliates yield customers for which products.
With that information in hand, the marketers take a careful look at the inventory and craft a plan. “Say the buyers have ordered X dollars worth of bras and Y dollars worth of ‘sexy,’” says Dan Sackrowitz, vice president of marketing and business development. “Our customer acquisition folks then line up partnerships based on the kind of merchandise we bought, and the merchandising department plans an e-mail campaign around it.”
The combination of inventory and analytics drives strategic planning and site design. “It’s easy for buyers to say we have to put a certain product on the home page, but that’s not necessarily the best place for it,” Wahl says. “It’s helpful to have the analytics to back that up.”
And the buyers get feedback for planning. “We were able to plan our 2006 holiday efforts in a much more productive way than we’ve ever been able to do in the past,” Wahl says. “We said, ‘Here are things people are clicking on,’ so buyers could feel comfortable placing a big reorder on those styles. We wouldn’t have done that before.”
“And we have just scratched the surface of this information,” Sackrowitz says. “It will help us maximize every single slot on the web site. Holistically, our entire marketing mix is going to much more closely reflect what we’ve bought.”