May 17, 2007, 12:00 AM

‘Searchandising’ sparks better merchandise plans

A new breed of retail planning software is helping retail web site operators merchandise products according to the demand shown by what shoppers choose to view through site search, Aberdeen Group says in a new report.

While merchandise planning software applications are helping retailers better plan their assortments of goods across stores, racks and shelves, another breed of software is helping retail web site operators merchandise products according to the demand shown by what shoppers choose to view through site search. 68% of best-in-class merchants use data from site search tools in their online merchandising tactics to improve their ability to offer shoppers what they want, increasing visitor-to-sales conversions rates, Aberdeen Group says in study released in April.

The study, “Web Site Search: Revenue in the Results,” identifies several site search vendors whose software is designed to segment search results into a structured schema, which enables retailers to plan online merchandising in a way that has been proven to appeal to shoppers. It notes that of retailers using Progress EasyAsk site search, for example, 80% “effectively” use site search as a merchandising tool. For retailers using Mercado, Endeca Technologies, SLI Systems and Fast Search & Transfer, the corresponding figures are 67%, 67%, 50% and 38%, the report says.

Although enterprise-class merchandise applications from other vendors include pricing, promotion optimization, inventory management and merchandise planning tools, “they don’t rely on the online customer behavioral characteristics revealed on the web to merchandising products,” Aberdeen says.

Aberdeen Group is a unit of Harte-Hanks Inc.

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