Brick stores have long used visual merchandising with great effect.
Consider the opening scene Breakfast at Tiffany’swhen Holly Golightly Audrey Hepburn looks at the window of the aforementioned luxury seller.
In e-commerce, your website and your digital content are your storefronts. Thanks to a well-thought-out merchandising strategy for e-commerce, online stores can attract the attention of shoppers and leave an unforgettable impression – as if this person passed by a beautifully decorated shop window.
What is e-commerce merchandising?
E-commerce merchandising is a way of organizing and displaying products in an online store.
The above, from the athleisure brand Outdoor Voices, is a good example of e-commerce merchandising in action. The photos for each product are clear – showing how the fabric falls and fits the body – and each product has a name, a brief description and different colors. The design of the page is clean, with lots of empty spaces, so the products stand out, and the navigation and search bar of the site are noticeable and easy to find. Each of these elements is part of an overall trading strategy in an e-commerce brand.
4 Components of an e-commerce merchandising strategy
An effective merchandising strategy allows customers to easily find the specific products they are looking for. To do this, e-commerce sites should include four key elements: brand identity, layout, product grouping, and recommendations.
A good merchandising strategy will take into account the identity of your e-commerce site – that is, the visual representation of your brand.
Brand identity includes elements such as your logo, your style and color palette. Ideally, these elements come together to create a unique experience that your customers can easily associate with your brand without distracting from the products you offer. This brand identity must remain consistent so that your e-commerce site is recognizable and familiar to regular customers – they know what they get when they visit your site, both in terms of experience and in terms of product.
UX / UI design
User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) describe two different aspects of the design of your e-commerce site. UX design this is the shared experience of the person who visits your online store. UI design, meanwhile, is the aesthetics, look and feel of your online store. Together, these two elements make up the visual organization and identity of your home pages, landing pages, and product pages and should be executed in an intuitive and user-friendly way.
Consideration of UX / UI design in the context of e-commerce merchandising includes factors such as:
- Drawing images: To keep customers on your e-commerce site, include images and other media that encourage them to explore your products and offerings.
- Efficient and easy-to-use search bar: Much of e-commerce merchandising helps customers find what they want. This means including a search bar that is easy to find and that offers predictive search results.
- Intuitive navigation: Some online shoppers aren’t sure what they want when they walk into your online store. For these customers, your goal is to help them browse and find what they like. In practice, this means that navigating your site will be as intuitive as possible and place product and category pages where your customers expect them to find them.
Online merchandising also includes curating, the practice of grouping specific products with common attributes.
You can manage products in your online store by combining products with similar attributes, such as material, collection or function, so that customers feel inspired when viewing them and have the opportunity to make a decision that meets their needs.
As an example, consider the category page for an e-commerce site that sells home furniture. There will probably be a category page for furniture and a subcategory page for living room furniture where sofas, chairs and more are grouped. Curation will do this a step further, for example, by bringing together all modern mid-century furniture together to offer its customers a bit of a creative spark.
Curation can also mean combining trending products and offerings. Use a prominent place on your landing page to recommend the highest rated products, as well as any current discounts, sales or promotions (such as free shipping).
Finally, a good merchandising strategy will be used personalizedproduct recommendations, personalization of products recommended to specific customers based on their unique search and purchase history.
Personalized product recommendations are generated using an algorithm that uses one or more internet shopper data items: browsing or shopping history, location or even information they have included in their personal profile.
In practice, online shoppers can see these product recommendations on the product page they are currently viewing; in a pop-up window as they move on to clearance; or even in email reminding them to return to your site after they left the cart.
How is e-merchandising different from traditional visual merchandising?
E-commerce merchandising and traditional visual merchandising are how products are displayed to customers to influence their purchasing decisions. But given that one is happening online and the other is happening in real life, they are relying on different strategies.
Personally, buyers rely on sensory information – something they can see, touch, hear and even smell. (Remember that clear scent that came from Abercrombie & Fitch stores?)
The four walls of the store enliven your brand. Customers can be inspired by beautiful visual displays and gain a tactile experience with products. The most important thing that shoppers can count on is the experience of store employees: According to Deloitte48% of shoppers say an experienced store employee increases their likelihood of making a purchase. Personalization is based on individual data such as the store employee, not on user data.
Visual merchandising uses some of the same elements as online merchandising to adapt the way products are presented. Creating a brand identity helps traditional retailers become more recognizable to shoppers. And product groups help shoppers navigate regular stores, whether they’ve been there before or not. But key elements such as personalization through data-based product recommendations are simply not possible in physical stores.
E-commerce merchandising, by contrast, depends on personalization: Accentures found that 91% of consumers say they are more likely to shop with brands that recognize them, remember them, and give personalized suggestions and recommendations.
Thanks to the amount of user data available to online retailers, stores can track customer traffic on their website and use these submissions to create a shopping experience tailored to individual shoppers.
3 Strategies for Effective Merchandising in E-Commerce
Creating an effective merchandising strategy for e-commerce is not as easy as replicating what shoppers feel. Instead, e-commerce sites need to make the most of their media with the following tools:
1. Mobile optimization
One third of Internet users in the US every week buy something online using mobile phones. Therefore, having an online store optimized for mobile devices – or better yet, a special e-commerce app – is very important.
Use the category pages well to make sure your site is well organized and easy to navigate. Watch your own site speedalso: According to Googleeven a one-second improvement in site speed can increase mobile conversions by 27%.
2. Optimize search results with autocomplete
Autofill search, sometimes called smart search, automatically offers appropriate guidance to online shoppers when they import into the search box. This means that when you start typing “toner” on a site like Sephora, search results will automatically supplement words, suggest additional terms such as “toner” and “toner spray”, and even list some of the most popular toners in availability.
With the right predictive search tool, e-commerce sites can guide shoppers online, offer product recommendations, and even correct spelling mistakes and missing characters. This leads to higher conversion rates and greater customer satisfaction.
3. Make it personal
As noted above, personalization plays a significant role in e-commerce. Use product recommendations to help online shoppers on their way to the customer. Use an algorithm that groups similar products. So if they are interested in a particular piece of clothing, you can automatically offer one or more extra items. Or use redirectionpaid advertising strategy that allows you to show ads on different platforms and sites to people who have visited your site.
At its core, e-commerce merchandising makes online shopping easy for customers. And, by making good use of customer data with personalized product recommendations, this can encourage online shoppers to keep coming back.
A well-defined merchandising strategy allows online stores to guide customers through the path of customers, increase sales and build a loyal customer base. In general, e-commerce merchandising is an important aspect for any e-commerce site.
https://www.shopify.com/blog/ecommerce-merchandising 4 Major Components of E-Commerce Merchandising (2022)