"Future Merchandising Will Be More Customer Centric And External Driven": Seshu Kumar

In an exclusive conversation Seshu Kumar, National Head - Buying and Merchandising, Bigbasket.com shares key highlights to draft winning merchandising strategy.
Bigbasket
Seshu Kumar

How merchandisers responsibilities are evolving? Key parameters or metrics it is measured on, like conversions, upselling, basket size/ticket size etc.

Above Metrics are largely pertaining to the Physical Stores. As we also monitor following apart from apart from Conversions and Average Bill Value.

1. Customer Penetration.

2. Customer Retention

3. Average Bill Quantity

4. Average Selling Price

5. Average Customer Value

One of the end goals of Merchandising is to build a personalised journey for each consumer. How do you think customer segmentation, personalisation and merchandising work together to deliver a better experience?

The starting point is to effectively segment the customers based on their buying behaviour. For example : Health Conscious Customers , Deal / Bargain hunters, Gourmet Customers and so on. Based on these segmentation, Merchandisers can plan the relevant assortment, navigation path and so on.

 AI is another word that’s doing the rounds these days. What is the role of AI in merchandising?

Grocery Buying Basket has about 25-30 items and a customer can easily forget / miss buying some items while doing shopping. AI can help in Recommending the customers "what to Buy" in each Shopping cycle . AI can also help in identifying which product offer should be communicated to which customer based on their Buying Frequency and Quantity bought by them.

Why do companies fail to implement merchandising management? Do you think the role of a merchandiser is well understood in organisations?

The conventional Concept of Merchandising Management is obsolete because it heavily focusses on maximising Returns per square foot of area in which the product is displayed. Future merchandising will be more customer centric and external driven rather than being focussed on internal parameters.

 What are the best practices for a better cross-departmental functioning amongst merchandising, marketing and supply chain department?

It is important to set up Cross Functional Groups working towards a common goal. This will help the teams to colloborate based on each others capabilities and strengths .

In Bigbasket , we have Cross Functional Groups working on Average Ticket Size, Customer Penetration, Average Customer Value and so on.  

The focus on consumer complaints and feedback has increased due to e-commerce. So, How merchandisers contribute to this?

Merchandisers should analyse the complaints for their respective categories and work with the vendors for reducing them.

Which brands or business in offline and online has done a good job in merchandising and why do you think so?

Each business would plan their merchandising Objectives based on their organisational goals. I believe Dmart in grocery do a good job of controlling the range tightly and providing great discounts to customers.

 

 

Seshu Kumar
 
 
 
 
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