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Thursday, Jul. 17, 2008 at 5:02 am

4 Principles of Merchandising Exposed

By Bryan Eisenberg
July 17th, 2008

Raul Vazquez CEO of Walmart.comI just returned from’s Online Merchandising Workshop in Huntington Beach where I presented the second keynote. I want to tell you more about the first keynote speech where, Raul Vazquez President and CEO of shared some meaty details about his team’s continuous optimization efforts.

The presentation was remarkably transparent. Raul is an engaging presenter, who established a wonderful rapport with the audience. I obviously cannot share everything in his presentation (you just need to attend next time), but he did put forth this elegant framework of principles which  apply to many companies who want to present better online.

Value: Immediately upon arriving to a page a visitor must see the value that you offer. For Walmart, it is there brand promise and they use various techniques to do this.

Assortment – Highlight the best and then show the rest of their wide assortment.

Easy – Everything about the experience must be easy. They want it to be easy to find and easy to buy. Raul showed examples of all the efforts they make to keep their categorization consistent and improve internal search.

Content – Have great product info, multiples images, etc. He spoke about the value of Rating & Reviews (they work with Bazaarvoice on this) and the importance of showing product availability across channels.

Simplicity is what makes these four concepts so powerful, and obviously has been achieving outstanding results because of it.

Continuous improvement is what it is all about.

If you need some help getting that process working effectively in your organization, I’d love to talk to you about it.

Congratulations to Scott, Larry, Artemis and the rest of the and NRF teams for putting on another great event.

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Comments (7)

  1. Brian-

    Great summary post. The simplicity Raul’s framework is really appealing.
    On another point: Take a look at your first line… first keynote “speach” . Maybe just a bit jet lagged?

    Thanks again for the summary as I couldn’t attend.

  2. Thanks Rob. Jetlag is the understatement. It took 2 hours last night from the point I landed at 11:15pm at JFK till I got home 11 miles away.

  3. Thanks for putting this together. I live nearby so I thought I would make it on time but got caught in So-Cal traffic and missed half of the address. I am hunting down other peoples notes from the session and this helps a lot.



  4. Thanks Bryan, this is a great recap. I also found it interesting that is not currently A/B testing and instead runs tests for a week and then compares week over week data. I would think with the amount of traffic that gets that it would only be statistically significant if they did A/B testing. What are your thoughts?

  5. Jessica,

    I would prefer they did A/B or multivariate tests. This way they remove the time and “weekly offer” variables from the equation. Raul said they tried it and couldn’t operationalize it. As I pointed out during my presentation, and “slice and replace” multivariate testing involving tons of permutations is not the most effective method in my opinion and experience. The process we use looks at using fewer resources to accomplish more. I am hoping as my new book Always Be Testing, hits the market in the next few weeks more people will adopt that process and abandon this concept of testing millions of permutations.


  6. 6 simple rules of merchandising, online and offline…

    Getting customers to buy isn’t as hard as it seems. Here are 6 simple reasons customers buy.

  7. I agree with the points in your article; however……

    Walmart = Brand Promise? I’m not sure if that’s valid. Maybe I’m unique in the market, but when I think of Walmart brands, I know while they carry sony, etc, and all these popular brands, they carry the cheapest models of those brands.

    When I think of Walmart, I think of cheap! I think of long lines, and people shopping in their sweats. =)

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Bryan Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark and Always Be Testing. You can friend him on Facebook or Twitter.

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