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How Find Me A Gift improved online visual merchandising

As it is for most retailers, peak Christmas trading is an incredibly important period for Find Me A Gift. In fact, the online gifting retailer conducts 90% of its annual trading in the last two months of the year, with the first two Mondays of December being its busiest trading days.

While Find Me A Gift sells quirky and personalised products throughout the year for birthdays, anniversaries and other holidays, the retailer's purchasing manager, Jean Grant, describes how Christmas shoppers search for products with much more urgency.

“There’s a finite end date, so customer behaviour is different in March than on December 13th. There’s a stop date when they need products.”

And with over 5,000 products – 2,000 of which can be personalised – guiding customers to the most appropriate gift has become a pivotal issue for the retailer over the last couple of years.

“The number one aim for us is conversion,” explains Grant. “We get lots of people landing on pages and it’s about maximising the opportunity. You can have the same products on a page, but in a different order that can make a dramatic difference.”

Demanding customers

She describes how online shoppers have become more and more fickle as the internet presents them with a myriad of choice for their Christmas shopping.

“As time has gone on customers have become more demanding in a shorter period of time,” she says. “They make a view in less than a second whether that product is appropriate for them. And if it’s not, they bounce onto another page or website.”

Two years ago, Find Me A Gift realised it needed to get more sophisticated in understanding shopper intent. The 18-year-old company’s whole website and back-end was created in-house, but as it grew substantially year-on-year it needed to outsource certain elements of its eCommerce operations, one of which was online visual merchandising.

The retailer began working with Attraqt and spent a lot of time testing different algorithms for different product pages – rather than the one-size-fits-all approach it took previously.

“If someone was buying something for a girlfriend rather than boyfriend, we showed similar types of gifts because it was a similar intention. But that’s not the case, a boyfriend wants fun and cheeky gifts, while girlfriends want something nice and personal. Attraqt has helped us adapt our search page to suit what the user intent is.”

Grant likens its new agile approach to visual merchandising to a jet ski – “it’s very flexible, you only have to touch it a little bit and it’s very reactive. But it has the impact of an oil tanker and the waves it creates across the website are massive.”

Combining this agile approach with the exponential growth at Christmas, with larger baskets than any other time of year, and this could quickly change customer reactions from a good to a bad outcome. “So it’s key we do a lot of A/B testing it October and November, that’s the only way you get to know what works and what doesn’t work, because the landscape is changing continually – customer behaviour, the product, the market – you have to be able to present two solutions to customers to find out what works and what doesn’t”

She concludes: “Data is absolutely crucial, you can decide subjectively where products should be, but it’s the data which is telling you whether you are doing the right thing or not.”

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