What I Learned When I Tried To Buy An Animal Print Blouse


On Catalog Management 

I promise I’m not trying to trick you by having a fun title only to drone on about catalog management. At the outset, it’s important to accept and acknowledge the fact that everyone is a customer of the retail industry, irrespective of where they’re working. If you wear clothes, you’re part of the fashion industry. 

That’s All

I Just Wanted An Animal Print Top

Animal print has been everywhere lately and although I had been trying my best to ignore it and scroll on, as of this morning, I couldn’t anymore. So I did what any impulse (but savvy!) shopper would do. I went online to buy one. I am someone who buys mostly from multi-brand retailers because I like the variety they offer. I don’t search for specific items too often in these platforms – which is why the results of my searching for “animal print top” across them, surprised me. 3 out of the 4 sites I searched in, yielded results that were not animal print.  

Site 1 – Jabong (Indian Retailer)

Visual merchandising, catalog management, catalogue management, vue tag, artificial intelligence in retail, vue ai, vue45, small medium retailer, jabong, asos, macys, nordstrom
Site 1: Indian Retailer Jabong. A print of an animal is not animal print, sorry!

My first search was with a local retailer, Jabong. The first four results had two animal print tops, a t-shirt with a tiger on it (Animal print, but not animal print, sorry) and a floral blouse. While I understand the difficulties of managing a large catalog as someone who works with retailers, as a customer, I am immediately put off by irrelevant results right on top. 

Site 2 – Nordstrom

Visual merchandising, catalog management, catalogue management, vue tag, artificial intelligence in retail, vue ai, vue45, small medium retailer, jabong, asos, macys, nordstrom
Site 2: Nordstrom. What’s the floral blouse doing there?

My second search was with the American retail giant, Nordstrom. As you can see – my search term has not varied across sites. Nordies was slightly better, but they threw in a floral blouse in to the mix too. I did scroll down and check out a few options. Not going to lie – I did wonder if they had missed out on showing me some better options that they had in site because of their sloppy tagging. 

Site 3 – Macy’s

Visual merchandising, catalog management, catalogue management, vue tag, artificial intelligence in retail, vue ai, vue45, small medium retailer, jabong, asos, macys, nordstrom
Site 3: Macy’s. They won this round.

Macy’s had the best results. I asked for an animal print top, they gave me animal print tops. I tried to see if I could trick the system by also searching for ‘animal print blouse’, but nope – same results again. This is the site I spent maximum time in. 

Site 4 – ASOS

Site 4: ASOS. Men’s products in the results, good. Stripes (that are not zebra), not really. 

The last site that I checked out was ASOS. They have a huge catalog and are really up to date with trends. But I got a men’s striped shirt when I searched for animal print, so, sorry ASOS. You lose this round. 

The Importance of Tags

This exercise made me aware of how impatient I had become as a customer. In a brick and mortar store, I am okay with browsing around a bit because there is that thrill of ‘finding’ something that you love. But searching online for a very specific product makes me ruthless with my buying choices. I do not want to waste time on sites that don’t get me. A lot of this has to do with the boring and un-sexy backend job of tagging. They have got to be comprehensive. This can be time-consuming but if you want your impatient customers (aka everyone) to stay on your site, they have got to be on point. 

Why Not Go The Artificial Intelligence Route?

The three out of the four sites I shopped in displayed errors/irrelevant search results. This is possibly because of the human errors that occur during the process of catalog management. Today though, there are powerful tools that can take care of the tagging for you – no fuss and total precision. This isn’t just for the Macy’s of the world though (they use AI – which explains the results!) – there are tools for small retailers too!

Become Your Own Customer

If you’re a retailer, I beseech you, as a customer – use your site as a customer. Become your own customer. Would you be happy with your search results? Test your site every single day. There is a girl out there who wants what you have. Make sure she’s able to find it. 

{Lavanya, who is the author of this article, is the manager, editor and errands boy at Vue45. If you’ve anything to say, do shoot her an email}


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