Article RetailTrends

How Plus wants to seduce customers online as well

Every retailer is convinced of the attraction of optimal shelf layouts in the physical store. Category management down to the last detail means that sales per square meter can be precisely controlled. But does it work like that online?

Hoe Plus de klant ook online wil verleiden - Tweakwise

Are retailers able to use temptation just as cunningly online as they do physically, with the knowledge of the customer’s preferences? Cookies and click behavior reveal a lot, but do they also tell whether this customer likes peanut butter with or without pieces? In other words: are online systems for fast-moving consumer goods also capable of really moving with the individual customer and his preferences?

Corona led to an acceleration of e-commerce. Groceries were done online 2.5 times more often on average and that trend is irreversible. Whereas retailers have become experts in temptation on the store floor, this calls for something else: optimum personal merchandise features. This is intelligence that is now enabling supermarket chain Plus, for example, to see both customer satisfaction and turnover grow.

Plus is continually optimizing its website and app and to this end it works with software supplier Tweakwise, among others. Tweakwise developed an add-on that optimizes the search functionality, the sorting, the filters and the recommendations on the e-commerce platform. The focus here is on relevance and personalizing the shopping experience.

Technical race

Arie van Zijtveld, e-commerce category & conversion manager at Plus, knows that there should be no difference between physical temptation and online experience. For years he was responsible for the optimal presentation of brands. “Everything revolves around the question: how do you take your customer into that story, into your category? Online, on the website or in our app, it’s actually no different.”

To do just as well there, Van Zijtveld says you have to draw the parallel to the physical store. “Where you develop a fully crystallized shelf plan for a physical store, you build the perfect customer journey online. In terms of merchandising, there is still a lot to be gained here. There is currently a technical race going on between retailers. Just like in the physical store, there is a battle going on online to be the most attractive.”

After Plus launched its web shop in 2016, two years later the focus was on improving the search engine. Product search became central to improving the website. “We have succeeded excellently in this, we have won a number of awards with our website and app for a reason. The next step now is optimum personalization, in which the search engine is set up at customer level, the individual customer journey. Tweakwise helps us with this, you shouldn’t want to invent this kind of intelligence yourself.”

Merchandising strategy

“In 2020, we developed the personal merchandising feature,” says Mark Veldkamp, commercial director of Tweakwise. “A feature that shows the most relevant products on the online shelf from a personal profile. The customer profile is built by combining different data sources and onsite behavior. Not only the customer, but also the organization itself benefits from the tool.”

In addition to steering for conversion, which increases when a personalized offer is shown, Veldkamp says you can use different merchandising strategies. For a food retailer, these will place more emphasis on aspects such as margin, previously purchased products and brand preferences, while for a fashion retailer, stock levels, available sizes or even inspiration will weigh more heavily. “Looking customers become buying customers and the organization itself has control over the online shelf plan.”

Van Zijtveld is currently rolling out the personalization tool in cooperation with their web builder in a so-called A/B test. This involves comparing both the current version of the website and the personalized alternative. “What does it deliver, how can we better serve our customer with relevant offers? You want to avoid coming up with offers for cat food when you can know that someone has a dog.”

Personalized results ensure relevance, continues Van Zijtveld. Customers, he says, experience that shopping is easier and faster. “Ultimately, that leads to more ending up in their basket and them wanting to come back to you.” Personalization also allows Plus to better influence the mix of products. “If it is known that the customer often chooses yoghurt you send targeted promotions within that category, but through the tool recommendations, for example, the different types of granola can also be brought to the attention.”

Catalyst

The fact that online shopping gained momentum as a result of corona was not a bad thing for van Zijtveld, he admits. “Whereas our focus during the first lockdown was on being able to deliver products, we then went full throttle for the content behind the system. The larger the share of e-commerce becomes, the more room there is to improve the online share of your formula.”

Plus primarily sees the crisis as a catalyst, an accelerator to achieve an even better system. “Tweakwise is a professional partner that comes up with smart solutions. Because we have been working together for years, we have influence on the processes, we examine together what the best solutions are for Plus. Open cooperation, down to earth, helps to make the best choices in this as well.”

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