Navigation tools and searchandising rule e-commerce trends: eTail

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WASHINGTON - Searchandising and site functionality are the two key topics of interest that have been discussed at this technology-focused eTail East.

The show has brought out more IT and online marketing staff rather than the typical VP crowd, as online budgets become more important to multichannel retailers. The main focus on every retailer's mind is on usability and good search-page landings.

"It is all about the product, but if you don't have a good search tool they will not find the product," said Milton Pappas, executive vice president of corporate marketing and e-commerce at Redcats USA, in a session called "Exploring Conversion Rates in Online Retail." "The more products I can offer to someone, the more I can sell to them. If you offer various kinds of sweaters to someone who is looking for sweaters, you expand the option to sell them something."

Searchandising allows marketers to offer more than is in a catalog, and reach a wider audience for a cheaper price. However, it is important that when offering a huge number of products that they are easy to find. Shelley Nandkeolyar, CEO of Norm Thompson Outfitters, finds offering 30,000 faucets to be a good value to the customer, as long as it is organized.

"Having a deep assortment in various categories is not a bad idea if you are known for that category, but you have to make the configuration easy," he said in a session called "Maximizing your Growth by Re-focusing your e-commerce."

The site breaks down the navigation by fabrication and price points to its easy to narrow down to 150 and then to 50 û which still gives the customer a wealth of choice without drowning in a sea of options.

Using search words that are common among customers and not breaking down sub-categories too much are also good tools for site navigation. Sunglasses and belts do not need sub-categories, while sweaters might.

"Regardless of how many products you have, if you can't get the user to type in what they want, then you can present them with relevant products," Pappas added.

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