What is an E-commerce Merchandising Strategy?
Digital marketing can help drive traffic to your site, but what happens once a shopper gets there? This is where site merchandising comes in. According to Volusion, site merchandising refers to “the variety of products available for sale and the display of those products in such a way that it stimulates interest and entices customers to make a purchase.”
As e-commerce shopping continues its upward slope and competition gets tougher, effective E-commerce merchandising strategies will become increasingly important in retailer success. Here are a few ways to make it work for you:
A Home Page That Converts
Your E-commerce homepage is like a digital window display. When potential customers land on your e-commerce site, what should they see? Think about what you’d want them to see if they were strolling past your physical store. Most likely, they should see your best promotions, as well as products you want to showcase (best sellers, top deals, most popular items).
We know that a majority of website visitors (55%) will spend just 15 seconds on a website. That means you have to be quick in grabbing their attention. Are you displaying professional, eye-catching images? Enticing, unique bargains? A vast product selection of desirable items? Including these elements on your home page is how you can get that first click through from a customer, as opposed to a bounce. Here’s an example from Rugs Usa. Note the eye-catching images, multiple product categories displayed, highlighted promotions, and search/toolbar at top.
And just like the actual layout of your store, how can you guide them through your website? Your site should make it easy for customers to navigate through and find exactly what they’re looking for. Which brings us to Site Merchandising strategy number two:
The Easier, The Better
What would happen if someone walked into your store and had the following experience:
- There was no helpful sales staff
- None of the aisles were labeled
- They had no idea how much anything costs
- They couldn’t find anything they were looking for
More than likely, they’d turn around and leave—and the same goes for the internet. Shoppers don’t want to be confused, they want to go online and find what they want in a really simple way. When it’s confusing and difficult, they bounce with a click. Here are some ways to help avoid this:
- Add interactive tools that aid customer purchase decisions, such as a live chat feature. Just like in a Brick & Mortar store, having a real person to answer questions makes a big difference in shepherding a shopper to the checkout.
- Improve your site’s internal search function so customers can pinpoint the product they want. E-commerce sites with elastic search have powerful capabilities that enable users to filter down by multiple attributes (everything from category to color to price). About 30% of website visitors will use the internal search function, which means it is a vital part of your e-commerce store. Furthermore, you can use the data from your customer’s searches to better understand what types of products they are most interested in.
- Put as much information up front as possible. Have free shipping? Free returns? Make sure that’s prominent. Customers don’t want to select products, make it to check out, and then be hit with surprise policies they weren’t aware of. This is a major factor in high cart abandonment rates.
Pack Detail Pages with the Content Shoppers Want
Once a customer browses through your site and clicks into a product page, they need two things: information and a little extra convincing. For the information part, ensure that your product pages have every single detail a shopper could need to make an informed buying decision. This includes primary (and alternative images), product descriptions, specifications (size/colors, etc.), measurements, pricing details, availability, country of manufacture, manufacturer, and so forth. This information is incredibly important to provide for shoppers, and it also helps your e-commerce store from an search engine optimization standpoint.
For the extra convincing, consider adding the following:
- Media elements like product videos to showcase the item’s unique features, selling points
- Additional lifestyle images that show the product in use. This is especially important for home furnishings retailers, as it room settings and home décor images help the shopper envision how.
- Romance copy to add a persuasive edge to your detail pages. When writing your text, think about what makes the item stand out. What are its best features? How might someone use it in their home?
- Customer reviews can make a huge different when customers are on the detail page. Make sure to show these in a prominent location next to other product details.
Cross Sell and Up Sell
Effectively merchandising your site and strategically placing product can be an excellent method of cross- and up-selling to visitors. For example, take a look at what Amazon does:
When looking at a product’s detail page, they strategically showcase other products. The top row shows a “Frequently Bought Together” section and underneath they’ve added a “Customers who viewed this item also viewed” section. With the first section, they are clearly trying to cross-sell. With the second, they are offering a customer relevant items to ensure they keep them shopping until they find exactly what they want.
By displaying complementary products to shoppers, you could hike up the order value. And remember, just because a shopper has landed on a detail page, that doesn’t mean they are dead set on buying that specific item. Cross-selling means customers have more opportunities to buy relevant items or find something they like more. Taking it even further, displaying products with a label like “Top Rated” or “Frequently Purchased” will increase the chances of making a sale.
Keep one eye on the competition
It’s no secret that the world of online retail is competitive; everyone is trying to drive traffic, everyone is price slashing to keep up. Your e-commerce merchandising strategy has to keep the pace.
With that in mind, you should keep a close eye on the competitive landscape at all times. Think about what customers value—Price, selection, service. In terms of competitors, how is their pricing? What do they have in stock? What are their promotions? Once you have this information, do everything you can to at least match but ideally improve upon these elements. If you do not have a thorough understanding of the competitive landscape and how to make your store attractive, you risk becoming irrelevant in the minds of shoppers. The more you know, the more competitive you can be.