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Etail Europe: Improve online 'discoverability' by avoiding silos

To improve “discoverability” online retailers must ensure they are not working in silos but engaging all teams, while those working with big data must not fear failure, but instead learn from it.

Speaking at the Etail Europe conference in London today, Jamie Peach, head of search engine optimisation (SEO) at House of Fraser, said it was essential for SEO to be a focus across the business, drawing in resources from multiple teams.

“It’s not about capturing faceless clicks, it’s about the customers, if you can get them to the site you want the content to be relevant and you need to be able to service their needs. In the mobile and app world and people are trying get to places quicker you need to make sure that experience works.

“We need to work with content editors, buyers, merchandisers and tap into all resources at our disposal to deliver discoverability for our customers, but it’s difficult and we still struggle with the scale to meet customer demand. SEO doesn’t work in a silo especially for multichannel retail.”

He added: “I don’t think we are anywhere near discoverability being solved” and the “personalisation aspect is really key, and being able to curate search results.”

When dealing with vast product ranges he said it was important to break this down and prioritise certain products to ensure they are properly highlighted.

“We need to recognise that when addressing product pages there are hundreds of thousands [of products] to deal with so you need to target the hero products to make sure seasonally you are on top of it.”

He also believed that going forwards SEO for larger retailers dealing with vast SKUs would need to be automated.

“The future is more in automation. If you can automate in a safe way you are doing a good thing. If you are in retail with a big scale, there’s no other way to do it.”

Meanwhile Ed Childs, head of customer data and media effectiveness at Asda, warned retailers need to keep the data they are collecting simple and usable, while constantly testing and not fearing failure, but learning from it.

“Retail needs to be simple and convenient for the shopper and we need to have a similar approach for data and analytics. But simple isn’t easy, simple is complex. We need to take a step back and make simple ins and bring customers with us.

“It’s absolutely key to have life cycles so you can implement it quickly, learn from it and build on it, but you should also be prepared to fail. Failing isn’t bad, you just need to learn from it. My four key steps for success are keep it simple, test before you integrate, be pragmatic and always remember the customer.”

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