The Lost Art of Selling

Shopping is an old fashioned human activity, but a lot of us in the ecommerce world approach it like we invented it. We tend to forget the lessons and fundamentals of the art of selling goods as we rush to build the next great digital shopping experience.

We have a lot to learn from what has come before us and apply that in the digital world as well as emerging channels such as mobile. Ever heard of the term “planogram?” No, it has nothing to do with geometry. Planograms are visual diagrams that provide in detail how to arrange merchandise in a brick and mortar store. To increase the likelihood of making a sale, research on planograms show the best ways to arrange products in a store are, for example, the layout of shelves and how to mix the right assortment of colors.

Taking advantage of such knowledge and understanding of human behavior might be ideal when defining a digital shopping experience, but such insights are rarely taken into account when building an ecommerce experience.

Retailers are aware that the sale of a known value item (KVI), an item’s value a shopper essentially knows, is significantly influenced by even the slightest discount in prices. When it comes to non known value items, it’s more important to explain the key benefits of the product. This applies to the brick and mortar retail world signage to show prices and discounts more prominently when selling a known value item while highlighting features is more prominent to selling a non known value item. Ideally, this should translate to a similar distinction when selling these types of goods on an ecommerce site, but most retailers use the same page template for all types of products.

Retailers would not try to sell a shoe the same way they would sell a television. However, for many retailers, the ecommerce experience is the same regardless of what is being sold.

Part of the challenge so far has been technological. The way sites have been implemented in the past has made this type of selling difficult. As the ecommerce industry evolves from building monolithic and hard to maintain websites to more distributed, service oriented, and API driven frameworks, we are going to see more tools that are selling and merchandising focused.

Everyone talks about frictionless shopping experiences for consumers. At Skava we also believe in enabling “frictionless selling” and are working closely with many large retailers to enable it through our platform and tools. Retailers should focus on the art of selling rather than technology constraints. The lessons and knowledge that retailers already have will fully come into play and be able to exploit their true competitive advantage and understanding of their products and users.

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