Friday, September 23, 2011

Start-Up Watch COD: EyePredict’s EPflow optimizes catalog item displays to your objectives

When you are selling multiple items online, one of the key challenges you face is to design your online catalog screens. Naturally, different items have different price points and profitability, or relevance to larger numbers of people. How do you decide what goes where?
Well, certain rules have been known for decades. Bigger tends to get noticed more. Top right hand area on the screen is better than bottom left, that sort of thing. Lots of companies sort of punt and copy Apple’s home page for their own, and then mimic other stores for interior pages.
Another common approach is to try to make everything a priority. You know the drill. Blinking, starbursts, red discount messages and the like all over the page. Which, of course, accomplishes nothing beyond giving the consumer too many competing pieces of stimuli.
I am reminded of the words of one of the most talented marketers I know, Joanna Abel of FreeWheel, who used to tell her clients “When everything is top priority, nothing is top priority.” I love that simple but critical truism.
EyePredict is a start-up focused on using neuroscience to optimize catalog displays for its customers. The idea is to provide them with your objectives and item assortment, and their EPflow platform optimizes the specific placement of items based upon those criteria coupled with what they know about the things people notice and why.
According to the company, some of the digital merchandising “rules” we all live by are incorrect, or at least oversimplifications of what it takes to get people to notice things. All this comes into play particularly when you are placing many items on a page. It’s all well and good to put the high margin, high penny profit item above all the low margin items if there are only four things on the page. But what about when there are 10 or 20?
EPflow isn’t using simplistic models of where people generally look – rather they are optimizing the placement of EVERY item based upon its many characteristics.
Nor are they using click tracking or eye tracking. Rather, they are drawing upon extensive research into the topic that enables them to try thousands of item placement combinations in a few seconds or minutes. No waiting months for research results.
To demonstrate the effectiveness of their approach, they have undertaken some massive testing to determine the business impact of their tool versus other approaches. You can probably tell that I am way way way out of my element in explaining this, so why not let them explain it themselves…
What I found appealing about this is that it represents neuroscience with an actual…you know…purpose. One of the disappointing aspects of much neuroscience research is that it is qualitative in nature. Interesting and nice to know, but not as actionable as one would really want. These folks have figured out a way to make neuroscience effective and relentlessly actionable. Hard not to like that.

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