January 26th, 2022 | 7 MIN READ

New Release Powers 50X Increase in Product Variation Support and Further Empowers Merchandising Teams

Written by author_profile_images Shaneil Lafayette

Shaneil is a Commerce Technology Advocate and Data Analyst at Elastic Path. As a part of the Product Marketing Team, she focuses on enabling the market on the commerce solution technology that helps digitally-driven brands drive revenue growth.

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If you’re in the eCommerce space, I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that it’s taking a lot more to keep customers engaged and satisfied. It’s been recorded that 47% of consumers report that if they continuously encounter poor customer experiences, they’ll spend money with a competitor, despite having been a faithful customer for years. In addition to more innovative digital experiences and convenient shopping channels, customers also expect to easily find and engage with the products they want, at the right prices, consistently across brand experiences.

This poses a problem for brands stuck on traditional legacy platforms, as not only do they now have to deliver in a highly competitive digital landscape, but their unique requirements can not be supported by their existing eCommerce merchandising capabilities. In short, they have outgrown their commerce platform. In this post, we will dive into how Elastic Path continues to address these problems by making it simpler for merchandisers to bring their complex requirements to life with a collection of newly launched eCommerce merchandising features inside of our Product Content Management capability (updated June 2022: now part of EP PXM).

 

How Are Merchandisers Being Impacted Today?

You can have a great set of products and a strong brand presence, but without engaging, flexible, and relevant commerce experiences at every touchpoint along the customer journey, your brand doesn’t stand a chance against the competition. Prior to the vast advancement in technology in the eCommerce space, customers were satisfied with shopping the web from their desktop and happily accepted however the brand decided to bring their content to them. However, over the years, we’ve come to see customer expectations for personalized and engaging experiences continue to shift. For example customers want to be able to do things like:

  • Shop a curated look
  • Shop personalized bundles
  • Shop by occasion
  • Virtually impose products in their room
  • Easily navigate brand sites in seconds
  • Easily identify if their variation (size, color, etc.) of choice is out of stock or for sale
  • And more.

So how will brands continue to meet these customer expectations? A key step in their success will rely on leveraging flexible eCommerce merchandising features tools that allow them to address requirements such as building 100s product variations, merchandising by attribute, creating dynamic bundles, and seamlessly updating navigation. However, these are all easier said than done. Keep reading to hear some of the challenges that brands often share with us:

 

Time Consuming Product Variation Builds

When customers shop in-store, they have the ability to browse the product assortment in person. That meant they had full access to truly assess product variants such as style, color, and size up close and personal before making a purchase. To replace the physical interaction with products, merchandisers have to carefully curate an online experience that replicates the in-store one. This means they must display clear descriptions, images, and accurate representations of the product variations they have available.

This oftentimes requires a degree of customization that traditional legacy platforms can’t support out-of-the-box. Therefore, merchandising teams are forced to spend copious amounts creating workarounds or waiting on IT resources to create customizations. This ends up delaying launches to market and reduces time for merchandisers to innovate.

 

Lack of Customization of Product Attributes

Customers like to be able to shop for similar items together. Whether that be items of similar color, category, brand, or price. Merchandisers who can easily consolidate these themes into collections help to create a more seamless shopping experience. However, due to the rigid coupling of products and their attributes in traditional legacy platforms, it makes it difficult to isolate each attribute to allow for themed merchandising. Additionally, eCommerce teams also lack the flexibility to customize the attributes of child products and merchandise them separately from the parent product due tight to tight product coupling as well.

For example, let’s say you need the price of a child product to be different from the parent product because it is considered as a special size. You would most likely have to build this product from scratch rather than leveraging the child product. This ultimately leads to less flexibility to merchandise products in more innovative and efficient ways that propel revenue growth.

 

Rigid Product Bundling

Customers tend to shop with the intention of getting the best value for their dollar. One such way that merchandisers appease this need is by bundling multiple products together under one price. Through the understanding of customer purchase data, merchandisers are able to create personalized bundles that allow them to cross sell and upsell products. However, some traditional platforms have limits on how brands can customize bundles. This increases the risk of missing potential sales and reducing customer satisfaction when compared to competitors.

 

Slow Navigation Updates

Customers want to be able to easily find what they are looking for when they enter a site. Having a user friendly main navigation is key to allowing customers to search your site intuitively and hassle free. As things change, merchandisers have to optimize their navigation to maintain a consistent brand experience. However, for most traditional legacy platforms, merchandisers have to wait on frontend developers every time they want to make a change. This could lead to a delay in launch time and less flexibility for merchandisers to test new navigation layouts.

Addressing the above merchandising challenges is no easy feat with traditional legacy platforms. To truly bring your complex requirements to life with creative precision, you will need modern merchandising tools that grant your teams the flexibility to customize your eCommerce experiences to your unique vision. That is exactly why at Elastic Path we have been working hard to bring your teams new modern merchandising features to achieve your goals.

 

New Modern eCommerce Merchandising Features

These merchandising features enhance the previously released Product Content Management capability (updated June 2022: now part of EP PXM), to allow merchandisers, catalog managers, and marketers to further customize their product offering according to their unique vision, to address customer expectations. These features include:

  • Product Variations
  • Modifiers
  • Configurable Bundles
  • Node Sorting

Product Variations allow eCommerce teams to create up to 10,000 variations in seconds to account for varying product attributes such as size, color, material(silver, gold, bronze), and more. Compared to traditional platforms that only allow for 200 variations, this is a 50X increase in the industry standard. This means merchandisers now have the flexibility to generate thousands of child products in seconds, without the help of IT. Take look at a demonstration below

Modifiers allow eCommerce teams to augment the properties of a base product when building a collection of child products. Rather than being restricted to the original configuration settings of the parent product, modifiers allow eCommerce teams to alter product properties during the child build process. This means merchandisers can now customize individual attributes such as price or category for products to be separately merchandised.

Configurable Bundles grant eCommerce teams with a variety of ways to compose and configure products to be sold as a single unit for one price. Whether a merchandiser would like to create a bundle from product SKUs that already exist or package multiple products together under one SKU to be sold together, they have the freedom to do so.

Node Sorting allows eCommerce teams to have full control of how their nodes/categories/menu items are organized for shopper consumption, without reliance on their frontend development team. This means merchandisers now have the ability to freely rearrange their nodes and have that immediately be reflected on the frontend without the need for frontend reprogramming.

 

These new features allow eCommerce teams to:

  • Enrich product data and merchandise product to customers how they see fit
  • Reduce time spent waiting on IT to build complex workarounds
  • Outpace the competition by finally powering the innovative experiences that that rigid technology has held them back from.
  • And there’s more where that came from!

 

Coming Soon!

The Elastic Path team continues to develop new features that make it simpler to bring your complex requirements to life. In the next two months you can expect to leverage:

  • Product Importer that allow quick and easy uploads of all of your product data.
  • Pricebook stacking that allow you to impose two pricebooks together to account for varying pricing for subset of products.
  • Anonymization that enables full compliance with GDPR, CCPA and other privacy legislation to protect your user's personal data.
  • Catalog Support for account management that extends our B2B capabilities through the ability to assign catalogs to accounts which may contain custom pricing, hierarchies and/or products.

And more.

We’d love to connect on how you can leverage these new merchandising features to help you unlock your goals today. In the meantime, feel free you can stay up-to-date on our latest features by checking out our product innovations page, here.

 

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