Today, GroupBy Inc., a SaaS-based B2C and B2B eCommerce product discovery technology leader, releases a new report for eCommerce professionals titled, “The Future of eMerchandising Report: Is Traditional eCommerce Merchandising Becoming Extinct?” Co-produced with RetailWire, a premier online discussion forum for retail professionals, the paper offers a comprehensive look at the state of today’s eCommerce landscape and how AI-first search and product discovery technology is evolving the role of the modern eCommerce merchandiser.
Featured in this year’s Forrester WaveTM: Commerce Search and Product Discovery, which assessed the top vendors in the market, GroupBy is the first company in the world to bring Google Cloud’s Retail Search Engine to retailers across the globe. Unlike legacy solutions which layer AI over decades-old keyword matching technology, this next-generation search engine is built on AI from the ground up. Its dynamic and self-learning nature allows it to optimize search results for revenue without manual intervention. When this engine is combined with GroupBy’s platform, merchandisers enjoy the perfect balance of manual control, AI-led optimization, and search analytics and reporting.
“Current technology in the market today is trying to address the problems of search using a top-down approach that layers AI over existing legacy systems,” explains Roland Gossage, CEO at GroupBy. “This is a band-aid approach. It covers up the problem but doesn’t fix it. To get to the root of the problem, we knew we had to start from the bottom-up.”
For decades, rule-based merchandising has been the stopgap for product search and discovery, but evolving consumer expectations, economic uncertainty and vast competition have widened the gap between consumer expectations and what the legacy search experience can deliver. However, AI-first solutions are helping retailers to close that gap. Trained on far more data than legacy solutions, Google Cloud’s Retail Search engine leverages insights from Google’s flagship properties, such as Google.com, Google Shopping and YouTube and possesses a superior understanding of user intent. Combined with the GroupBy Search and Product Discovery Platform retailers are now able to deliver unsurpassed search results that are relevant, buyable, personalized and optimized for revenue, while dramatically reducing the amount of time merchandising teams spend manually curating search rules.
“AI is the key to bridging the gap between merchant and consumer,” says Roland. “For years humans have been trying to curate the best search experiences, but have struggled to deliver these experiences at scale. GroupBy’s platform strikes the perfect balance between AI and manual control, making it infinitely easier for retailers to show customers results that match their search criteria, are highly buyable and individually tailored to their preferences, thereby creating a more satisfying shopping experience for customers and real revenue gains for retailers.”
What the Future of Merchandising Holds
Despite the technical lens, the paper maintains a very human-centric focus.
“An AI-first solution can reduce the need for thousands of manual rules down to a small handful, while also optimizing every search for revenue. At scale, most teams spend up to 60% of their time curating search rules. Leveraging AI to handle search optimization instead puts hours back into a merchandiser’s day,” Roland explains. “What could they do with those hours? What is the human potential that can be leveraged when using AI? That’s the real focus here.”
GroupBy describes the role of the modern merchandiser as one focusing on strategy and revenue-generating initiatives. The report includes 11 high-value activities that merchandising teams can spend their newly-freed-up time on, such as:
- Creating innovative seasonal and holiday promotions
- Increasing focus on A/B testing outside of search results
- Investigating new technologies such as ChatGPT and conversational commerce
- Addressing process and data quality problems that directly impact the effectiveness of search
- and more.
“We know what AI can do for retail,” says Roland. “What businesses need to focus on next is determining what their employees can do and selecting the right tools to help them reach that potential.”
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