How The Paper Store translates brick-and-mortar success to the web
“We log in and arrange products on a daily basis, so it’s very fortunate that the tool makes it so easy to move products around. It only takes a few minutes.”
The Paper Store is an experienced brick-and-mortar retailer with well-defined objectives and a unique organizational structure.
Each department within The Paper Store is viewed as its own “business within a business”. This allows managers from the executive level down to individual departments in retail stores to become experts in their own areas.
Knowing their departments inside and out makes strategies more coherent and effective, and merchandising plays a major role.
Having originally opened their doors in 1964, physical merchandising has always been an important part of running their business. Like most other brick-and-mortar brands, The Paper Store has merchandising floor plans which are strictly managed in order to ensure that the shopping experience is coherent and logical.
Unlike many retailers, though, they make an effort to carry all of this over to their online storefront, which is managed in a similar way.
Consistent Physical and Online Storefronts
First, The Paper Store wants to maintain a consistent look between their online and physical storefronts.
In practice, this means logging in and manually manipulating the way that products are arranged on various pages of the website.
For example, if the Jewelry Gifts aisle receives an update with new products at physical stores, those products are first added to the Jewelry Gifts section on The Paper Store’s website. Then, the virtual arrangement of those products (what comes in position 1, 2, 3, etc.) is changed.
Using a drag-and-drop editor, products are moved into specific locations so that they match what people would see in the physical store.
“It’s important to us that there is a consistency with our online and physical stores. For a very long time, we have put a lot of work into our in-store experience, so we want to make sure that this is something we carry over to our online store.”
Arranging Product Order
Second, The Paper Store works to ensure that products are arranged in a way that’s most relevant to shoppers.
Rules-based merchandising also plays a role in how products are arranged. Rather than manually dragging products into place based on a specific goal (such as increasing exposure of a specific brand), rules are often used that automatically arrange products based on the specified goal.
This saves a lot of time for the handful of merchandisers that use the tool daily.
Getting the Most out of Marketing
Next, The Paper Store works hard to coordinate their merchandising with their marketing efforts in order to extract as much value as possible from their time investment.
Whereas many stores will run email and social campaigns and direct visitors to unaltered pages, The Paper Store works hard to make sure that products featured in ads are easy to find.
“We usually send multiple emails each week in order to generate interest in specific products. Since that’s the case, we work hard to make sure that the pages those shoppers visit are merchandised properly.”
So if an email is sent that advertises handbags, the handbags featured in the email will be at the top of the “handbags” category page.
The Paper Store has been extremely successful in their merchandising efforts, creating brand consistency, and making it easier for shoppers to find the products they want. At any given time, they have custom merchandising live for dozens of category pages and search results.
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