First things first – we sell things. They could be products, services, ideas or access to a community but we are selling it, and the long term success of our idea, site or business depends on our ability to make the consumer understand what we are selling and believe (trust) our proposition enough that they will participate in a transaction. For many online players this is more of a reality than for others; those of us who sell products and services online know that our success and survival depends on selling as many of the proposed offering as possible.
But how many online retailers build a strategy that surrounds the overall product offering? With all of the talk around social media, consumer generated content, viral videos, online advertising and interactive media, it becomes difficult to understand that you need to support the process of selling online. I am not suggesting that you don’t do any of the above – in fact I would suggest that you embrace as many of the different tactics as possible that help you achieve your goals – but making use of social media requires a measured approach that aligns with the overall merchandising strategy.
So what exactly is a merchandising strategy? It can be broken down into three key components – offering (the products/services that you offer), value (value proposition to the consumer) and content (how are you offering the products/services to the consumer). Depending on your customer demographics and target market, you can adjust the three components to present the most optimal offering to the marketplace. In this post I am going to focus on developing a strategy for a product-based business at a very high level by discussing each of these three areas.