Product mapping is the process of assigning attributes and departments to products. This allows retailers to categorize the products in their stores’ catalogs and determine which products should be sold next to each other, either physically or online. By using crowdsourcing to assist them in this process, retailers gain a better understanding of how their customers and potential customers perceive their products.
What Crowdsourcing Has to Offer a Product Mapping Scheme
Since assigning attributes to products is a task that is easily broken down into small parts, the extremely large groups that crowdsourcing offers allows vendors to get their products mapped very quickly. Even if there are tens of thousands of products that must be mapped, the sheer number of people willing to work on such tasks for long periods of time means that the products are usually mapped within days at the most, assuming that the crowd members find the task’s reward suitable and the difficulty appropriate. Because the crowd members are not employees of the retailer, there are obvious advantages in terms of human resources over hiring a group of ordinary temporary workers.
Additional Benefits to Crowdsourcing
Internal employees often see products as merely items to sell, particularly if they do not use them themselves. Therefore, requesting them to map products may not be wise, since product mapping at the retail level requires an understanding of the customer’s perspective. Since the people who work on crowdsourced tasks are representative of the public at large, they are able to provide a new perspective and may offer surprising insights. For example, a certain kind of small file may be classified as hardware and found in the hardware department, but it also may be used as a nail file by customers who find it easy to carry. A certain kind of jacket may be useful both during the winter months and when it rains, meaning that it should not be put away on a seasonal basis.
While products are often mapped based on judgment calls that can result in similar products being placed in different categories, these judgments are conducted impartially. A crowdsourced review of the mapping can have these similar products mapped in a similar way. If retailers understand the business of crowdsourcing and offer clear instructions and fair pay, they find that their products are categorized efficiently, quickly and into patterns that their customers understand. This can increase their sales and make both their stores and their websites easier to navigate.
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