The 5 Ps
Price, Place, Promotion, Product and the later Position have become known as the 5 P’s. The 5P’s or marketing mix is still key to the concept of online merchandising. In traditional retail, merchandising is the display of products and the way that these products are displayed to ultimately move the consumer from consideration to purchase. Online presents merchandising as an acquisition funnel – people research, become aware, move to consideration and then purchase, if convinced.
In bricks and mortar we are limited by physical space and the way we control space. Even with the shopping-mall design concept of the Gruen Transfer, that deliberately confuses consumers by providing them with distracting stimulus to take them away from their original shop purpose, we cannot ultimately control their journey.
Online seeks to take away the confusion by identifying consumer behaviour and desires. The aim is therefore not to confuse but deliver a simple experience that allows consumers to move through a sales funnel with confidence as they are presented relevant content and the right product. This typically is the eCommerce experience. One only needs to look at Amazon to see the pure merchandising experience; Search as the Hero Feature; Featured Products; Offers and Product Categories allow consumers to browse or quickly move to their purchase objective. This is supported with a relevance engine that will target product to a consumer, based on their browsing habits.
Key to the success of merchandising is that ability to sell production that is needed or wanted. One only needs to look at good affiliate marketing campaigns to realise this is key to success; examples include low interest rate credit cards and iPhones.
Changing Behaviours and Customer Experience Design
Change and the ability for consumers to change their behavior is accepted. In banking consumers have changed from banking from a single branch (location), to linked branches; And signatures in passbooks, to electronic cards linking banks across the globe. Accelerated changes in banking supports the view that consumers are able to change and change quickly if there is benefit.
In digital the discipline of creating effective change is delivered through User Experience (UX), now also commonly referred to as Customer Experience (CX). UX engages a User Centred Design (UCD) approach to deliver an experience that also supports change. The limitation of this research in the UCD approach, if too puritan is that Consumers/Users only know what they know. New thinking or innovation therefore needs to be inspired.
The first commercial user interface for Computers was DOS, based on the constructs of using a keyboard (such as a typewriter), to enter commands. This was followed by a Graphic User Interface (GUI), that used a mouse to issue commands in a graphical environment. The benefit to the User was that they would not need to remember commands but would interact with icons. The objective of this change has always been to create a simpler experience for Users to meet their objectives.
In User Experience this has included refining the Information architecture and User Interface or what UX would call the interaction model to allow users to quickly and intuitively complete their task. Most recently UX design needs to take into account multiple device that allow a seamless experience. The ultimate is to move towards what is called a Service Design experience that will present an uninterrupted experience across multiple touch points. In short the consumer will be able to start an experience in any channel with the same brand experience across offline or online; And complete this purchase path through any channel seamlessly through hands-offs.