Merchandising and Customer Experience

April 13, 2006, like Macy’s stores, is a trusted advisor to upper and moderate income customer segments. We evaluate’s customer experience using Patricia Seybold Group’s e-merchandising framework, which rests on the four Es: environment, education, emphasis, and excitement. Highly successful ecommerce sites in B2B and B2C effectively employ the four Es we’ve identified. achieves a high score when measured by our criteria.

NETTING IT OUT delivers an excellent customer experience that is consistent with Macy’s brand and with Macy’s stores. The experience is driven by e-merchandising and search capabilities.

Using our E-Merchandising Framework, which provides a results-oriented framework for merchants to manage the online customer experience, we evaluate achievements. We give high marks in exercising the key elements of

e-merchandising: environment, education, emphasis and excitement. Its greatest achievements are in the environment and education arenas. Overall, achieves a score of 39 out of a possible 58 points.


What kind of customer experience does your site deliver? Investments in search engine marketing (SEM) will drive visitors to your site, but what happens next? Are you doing the best you can to connect buyers with your products? Do you make sure they can swiftly find all that they’ll need in order to be successful? The technologies to support a great customer experience are here today. What’s the gating factor for most sites? Poor merchandising, inadequate search, and cumbersome navigation.

E-merchandising is the art and science of displaying products and related detailed information on the Web and via email. The purpose of e-merchandising is to help the customer make a buying decision. This Web discipline builds on traditional product marketing and merchandising. Merchandising on the Web takes the form of product presentations, product packaging, and product offers. Ideally, online merchandising is consistent with marketing in all channels. It requires coordination from marketing, product management, creative services, and IT technologists.

Merchandising has come a long way from the early days of ecommerce. Today, the best sites provide a seamless search and navigation experience, tie offers to the buyer’s immediate context as well as his profile, and help buyers through the selection process. The best companies aim at a consistent cross-channel, cross-lifecycle customer experience.

The Patricia Seybold Group has developed a results-oriented, theoretical framework for e-merchandising.[1] It spells out our “four Es” of e-merchandising:

* Environment: Setting the mood
* Emphasis: Prioritizing products
* Education: Assisting with decisions
* Excitement: Changing customer behavior

These four elements work together to inform and persuade the customer through product presentations. In this report, we examine how exercises e-merchandising to offer a great customer experience. We’ll describe practices and achievements, and then award a simple binary score for each criterion: a one if the criterion is met, a zero if not. A blank score indicates that the criterion is not scored, but purely informational. An example of an informational entry is the number of categories on the home page.


Federated Department Stores, Inc. is one of the nation’s leading retailers. Federated operated 866 stores in 45 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico as of January 28, 2006 under the names of Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Famous-Barr, Filene’s, Foley’s, Hecht’s, Kaufmann’s, L.S. Ayres, Marshall Field’s, Meier & Frank, Robinsons-May, Strawbridge’s, and The Jones Store. Federated also operates, and Bloomingdale’s By Mail. Federated also operated 56 Lord & Taylor and 735 bridal and formalwear stores in 47 states and Puerto Rico as of January 28, 2006 under the names of David’s Bridal, After Hours Formalwear and Priscilla of Boston. Sales in 2005 were $31 million.

The Business Environment

The core of Macy’s customer base is made up of upper to moderate income-level women between 30 and 55 years old with fashion awareness and a desire for key fashion trends. The Macy’s style is a blend of urban contemporary and traditional, with status brands being important. Macy’s also sells other goods, such as housewares, tabletop, home textiles, rugs, and furniture in its Home Store department. Macy’s is also well known for its bridal registry, with fine china, crystal, and flatware being the predominant purchases. Roughly 60 percent of sales are women’s clothing and accessories.

Federated registered the URL in 1993. Early efforts centered on the bridal registry, and came to define the online registry experience for brides and givers. Today, offers products in 15 categories.

CONSISTENT QUALITY OF CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE (QCE) provides a customer experience that is consistent with the Macy’s brand, and as consistent as possible with the in-store, email, and print advertising experiences.

Like the Macy’s stores, offers a wide assortment and varied services. Its categories include bed and bath; dining; housewares; women; men; juniors; kids; shoes; beauty; jewelry; watches; sale; swim shop; home décor; rugs; electronics; and luggage. Services include gifts and gift cards; bridal registry; store locator; email notice of events; Macy’s credit card and Star Rewards Program, My Macy’s, My Profile, order status, My Wish List, My Address Book, gift card balance, and a link to what’s happening in stores. pages present the items featured in store displays, participates in national and regional campaigns, such as a brand promotion for Calvin Klein jeans, and provides a connection to local offers and events from the home page.

Macy’s is a trusted advisor, and’s seasonal style guide and gift guides provide the information to help customers make informed decisions. is ready to help, and its search is like having a knowledgeable sales person at your elbow. The Macy’s brand also represents reliability, and supports this characteristic in its privacy, returns, shipping, account management, and customer support information. allows customers to order items on the Web and return them to the store. supports three of the four key retail customer scenarios: browsing, selecting, and buying. It does not support the using scenario.


The environment, or the context, for the product displays is a key e-merchandising element. Environment sets customers’ expectations for their interactions with the products. Two key environmental influences are site layout and tone, which are established by ...

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