I recently had the chance to catch up with John Federman, president and CEO at Searchandise Commerce, to understand what impact the transition to agile commerce is having on Searchandise, its business strategy, and its organizational structure.

Searchandise is a retail search network with an interesting model combining pay-for-performance tactics of search marketing with in-store merchandising practices. Its product marketers leverage cost-per-click bids to enhance product position within search listings across a network of retail sites, similar to co-op marketing models — like a wholesale brand purchasing premium shelf space in a brick-and-mortar retailer. Retailers monetize these search listings, generating an incremental revenue stream.

Forrester: John, thanks for taking some time out to talk to us about agile commerce. We have been talking to clients about the evolution of their business from channels to touchpoints that span mobile devices, social networks, advertising, marketing, traditional channels, and various places online. How are you looking at this, and what does it mean for your business?

Mr. Federman:  As customers became more comfortable with the Web and online payments, they spent more time online researching products, comparing features, and looking for deals.  As such, retailers reacted by investing more in their sites, making them infinitely more searchable and featuring more interactive tools like configurators, price comparison tools, and “stores within stores.”  After all of this investment, it’s interesting to note that nearly half of shoppers who research online continue to buy in-store.  So what becomes invaluable in the multichannel world is providing the consumer with a seamless, non-disruptive experience whether they are on their phone, their iPad, on the Web, or in-store. This has become part of Searchandise’s mission, to be as non-disruptive to the search experience, regardless of channel.

Forrester: As businesses evolve from a channel-centric focus to a customer-centric focus, how are your clients changing their organizations to respond? Do you see a new organizational model having to take shape?

Mr. Federman: Our clients break down into two segments: manufacturers and retailers. Manufacturers want to elevate their product visibility wherever their products are. Retailers want the opportunity to monetize the searches on their site. We look to provide both of these services without disrupting the consumer experience. Retail media has evolved from product research and how manufacturers better align their marketing efforts.  For example, as mobile exploded into retail, we developed HitList Mobile, which extends our online merchandising services to a variety of smartphone and handheld devices. Retail media is evolving, and our clients are responding to embrace this new media; we just have to stay one step ahead.  

Forrester: How are the solutions your firm provides changing to address the changing needs of business transacting and marketing online and across touchpoints?

Mr. Federman: In-store merchandising is a $20B marketplace; retail media emerged to provide a solution to monetize similar activity online. Today, online merchandising means much more than cross-sell and upsell — it means scalable, incremental revenue to retailers and the most targeted and relevant paid placement opportunities for advertisers. Retailers have changed their footprints, and manufacturers have changed their marketing tactics in response to changing consumer behavior.

Forrester: Thanks so much, John. We really appreciate your time and thoughts.

This is the third in a series of interviews with executives about the ways they are responding to agile commerce. I really appreciate John’s participation and look forward to bringing more of these to you. If you are interested in participating in this series or have ideas for eBusiness & Channel Strategy leaders you would like to see us include, please email me at brianwalker@forrester.com.


For more on Agile Commerce, read our blog post or our report, or participate in our community discussions.