BFCM Labs: Smarter Inventory & Merchandising Strategies

Syte Senior CSM Aaron Ellis gives you an insider view into the most effective way to segment your catalogue and improve merchandising ahead of the holiday season. 

Prefer to read? Check out an edited transcript of this video below:

Introduction: Smarter Inventory & Merchandising Strategies

Hi, I’m Aaron Ellis, Senior Customer Success Manager at Syte. Today on BFCM Labs, we’re going to talk all things merchandising. Specifically, connecting the dots between our inventory and purchasing strategies to the items that we’re recommending on the frontend of the website. We have three specific topics we’re going to cover today, so let’s just dive right in.

Segmenting Your Inventory According to the Product Life Cycle

The key element is targeting a segment and identifying that specific segment. So there’s a lot of different ways we can view our product catalogue. One way that I like to look at it is looking at the product life cycle of your catalogue.

So splitting up the products into four separate segments, one being introduction. These are new products being introduced to the line this season. Then you have your maturing and growth products. Then in the final, fourth segment is your declining products. These are products that are slowing down in sales velocity, and the margins are getting reduced and ultimately the bottom line profit as well, over time.

Building a Merchandising Strategy for Slow-Moving Products

So what we want to do is group all our products in one of those four segments. And once we have them in those segments, we should identify or select which one is the highest priority.

The low-hanging fruit, and I think the most obvious segment is introductory products. So these are new products in the catalogue, and we’re looking to encourage engagement and awareness of them.

So this is an obvious place to take advantage of the uptick in users. And on the flipside, we also want to focus on the declining products, again, products that are going to be knocked down in price, meaning our margins are going to thin out. And products that are slowing in velocity, and it appears we might not be able to sell through these products in a timely fashion.

So these are for me, the two most obvious areas to set our sights on.

So once we’ve defined the segments of our catalogue, then we want to focus on one specific group. So for this example, let’s take slow-moving items as our target, or declining products. What we want to do is first identify the cause, if we can, for it being a declining or slow-moving product. Now one common cause is just, it’s not an interesting product or maybe the description on the PDP isn’t descriptive enough for it to sell.

The other common offender is that the product is just not getting visibility. So I think the first step in tackling this segment of the catalogue is identifying which is due to visibility and which may have a deeper-rooted problem. Now we can simply do that by looking at the PDP items or PDPs that don’t have a lot of views.

So with that segment that we know is due to visibility, I think the action items are quite simple.

Let’s give those products visibility and we can do so in a couple of ways. One is by making sure that our product listing pages are sorted correctly, making sure those products that have been missed are pushed up higher on the page.

And this also goes with text search results, of course. This is where you leverage those merchandising rules in order to push those products up.

And then on the product page itself, let’s bundle or recommend the slower-moving products with our best sellers. The places that we know the eyes are naturally going to come in and see if these products are relevant and just have been missed.

Tracking & Analyzing Performance

It’s a great question. How to track or analyze performance during this period. Because what we’re going to see is one-day spikes or a weekend spike, and then it’s going to go flat. So the most obvious way to track is to first group those items, like we said before, identify them. Segment them, and then look at their order velocity, their sales velocity leading up to Black Friday Cyber Monday. So we want to look at sales periods like seven-day velocity, 30-day velocity, even 60 and 90, just to get an idea of not only how it’s been selling, but trending leading into this holiday season.

And then once the numbers come in on the daily basis during these four days, you want to actually review these numbers because if we’re not achieving the velocity rates that we’re looking to be, we need to shuffle around those recommendations, increase the better-performing ones and then shuffle around the ones that are sort of missing the mark.


Before we wrap up today’s BFCM Labs, I want to review the topics we discussed. Firstly, we want to segment our product catalogue into an organized fashion. In this example, we discussed slow-moving or declining products.

Second, we want to create merchandising rules and ranking strategies in order to tackle the goal we set out for ourselves. So for example, gaining visibility for the products that had a low amount of views.

Lastly, we want to be able to track and iterate the success of our strategies or actions. So having that clear way to analyze, reassess, and take action based on those numbers.

Thank you so much for joining me on BFCM Labs, looking forward to you joining me on the next one.