Digital merchandisers are gaining marketing influence within their organizations, but they lack the real-time customer insight data to make decisions. A report released Monday reveals that about 47% of participating online merchandisers said gaining access to customer insight data -- the same data used by marketers -- creates one of their biggest job challenges.
The BloomReach-commissioned Forrester Research study found that digital merchandisers share marketing responsibilities, but 63% lack access to the data to make correct decisions about merchandising, picking assortments, and marketing product placement decisions.
About 68% said they influence building brand awareness but lack the data, while 65% influence brand loyalty; 64% help to improve the brand's competitive advantage; 61% support customer acquisitions; and 59% point to improving customer experience.
Merchandising strategies aren't built on "gut feelings," but rather hard numbers, said Madeline Ng, product marketing lead for BloomReach. "The digital merchandiser's role has expanded, and now they have influence on more traditional marketing responsibilities, like brand awareness, competitive intelligence, and customer loyalty," she said. "They have the theoretical capability to demonstrate customer insights."
When asked to name the challenges preventing them from more closely collaborating with their marketing counterparts, 38% of marketers vs. 43% of merchandisers pointed to different goals and key performance indicators. Some 34% of marketers vs. 30% of merchandisers said lack of access to the same data.
Some 38% of marketers vs. 25% of merchandisers point to political and/or cultural challenges within the organization.
Also, roles within companies are changing. The study suggests that 52% of digital merchandisers want the ability to prove their impact on sales, and 47% said better technology would simplify work and help do their jobs better.
About 85% of the merchandisers said they use or plan to expand their use of reporting technology that tracks customer behavior. Some 77% use revenue management tools, and 72% use merchandising analytics tools.
Less than half say their merchandising tools sufficiently generate actionable customer insights. This often makes it difficult to collaborate with their marketing counterparts, because data challenges often create gaps.