Ecommerce merchandising plays a major role in retaining the interest of your online store’s visitors. In fact, it can be the make-or-break factor for your online business — especially given changing customer expectations. Let’s learn more about ecommerce merchandising and how you can leverage it to help your online business thrive.
What is ecommerce merchandising?
Ecommerce merchandising is the process of organizing and curating products on your website in order to improve visitors’ experience and accomplish business goals. It encompasses several different aspects of a website’s presentation, including its overall appearance, the site’s search functionality and promotion management.
Traditional merchandising often involves using all the senses to evoke an emotional response in shoppers. This can be done through props, interior design, music and aesthetic choices that align with your brand's values. In contrast, ecommerce merchandising relies primarily on the visual presentation and organization of your products and your store’s features to ensure a seamless, intuitive shopping experience for visitors.
How site search and merchandising can go hand-in-hand
In addition to helping visitors have a smooth shopping experience, the search functionality on your online store can also be harnessed as a means for merchandising. Here are some key ways merchants can do so:
Personalize your search results
Here, personalization refers to the process of ensuring that your product pages and search results, among other things, are relevant to your customers. Using personalization can help you increase your conversion rates by directing customers to the products they are most likely to be interested in.
You can also use features like personalized product recommendations to boost your ecommerce sales.
Implement product pins and boosts
Product boosts are a great way to increase the visibility of certain products on your website and attract more customers. They are especially effective for clearance items, new products, or seasonal items.
There are several different ways to boost products on your website. One way is to use a site search engine that can be configured to display certain products higher in the search results. Another way is to place them in featured sections on your homepage or other key pages.
Enable sorting and filtering
Making it easy for visitors to sort and filter products based on their preferences can help boost conversion rates and increase average order values.
You can enable visitors to sort products by high-level criteria such as price, popularity or date added. This gives shoppers more control over the shopping experience and allows them to find the exact items they're looking for.
You can also allow visitors to filter products by more specific criteria, such as color or size. This helps them zero in on a particular product or group of products that meet their needs.
Redirect to a special page for certain queries
Instead of searching for specific products or brands, store visitors often simply search for the general idea they’re interested in, such as ‘sale’, ‘discount’ or ‘top-rated’. In such scenarios, it is important to not let your site search engine treat such a query “normally”; instead, it should be set up to redirect searchers to a dedicated page addressing the query.
For instance, the query ‘sale’ should lead to a page where all the products currently on sale are listed.
Provide visitors with predictive search
Predictive search (also known as ‘autocomplete’) is a feature that provides search suggestions as soon as searchers start typing their query. This feature helps minimize the number of typos, and also nudges visitors towards products they’re likely to be interested in. Moreover, it also helps make queries more specific, leading to more relevant search results.
Show customer ratings for social proof
Social proof is very powerful when it comes to influencing shoppers’ purchasing decisions. By including each product’s average rating (typically on a five-star or ten-star scale) in the search results, visitors can tell at a glance which products have been well-received by buyers. This can increase the chances of visitors making a purchase.
Site search engines can make use of data such as visitors’ past purchases and site search history, along with general data about highly-converting search results, to show relevant products to searchers that maximize the chances of sales.
The fundamentals of ecommerce merchandising
There are four key kinds of pages on your website that ecommerce merchants should focus on for their merchandising efforts. Each of these kinds of pages should feature certain specific elements (in terms of copy, images, buttons, features and widgets) in order to maximize their merchandising potential. These four kinds of pages are:
1. Home page
Your home page is probably the most important page on your online store, as it’s usually the first point of contact between a potential customer and your brand and products. There are several key elements that well-made home pages should have, including:
- Banners at the top for ongoing promotions and discounts
- A so-called hero image (i.e. a large image with text that arouses interest in your brand and its products at a glance)
- A ‘Sign Up’ button: this is important because it enables better personalization for your visitors
- Information about your brand: a mission statement or brief history
- A large number of CTAs peppered throughout the page
2. Product pages
Your product pages are also extremely important, as a bad experience at this stage could cause a would-be buyer to change their mind.
Each product page should be SEO-optimized, so that it can appear in web search results when people look for the corresponding product. In addition, each such page should have the following elements:
- Detailed images and description of the product
- Product specifications (weight, dimensions, materials used, etc.)
- Product color options
- Upselling and cross-selling widgets
- ‘Add to cart’ and ‘Buy now’ buttons
3. Category pages
Typically, the products you sell will fall into a small number of well-defined categories. Creating a separate page for each category is important as it allows visitors to get a bird-eye view of products related to the ones they are interested in.
Some common features that can be implemented on such pages are:
- A product grid
- The ability to compare products
- Filtering and sorting options
- A special focus on the bestsellers within the category
4. Collection pages
Lastly, it also makes sense for most online stores to have several collections pages that group products together in a more narrow way than categories. For example, while ‘pants’ might be a category, ‘athletic pants for women’ or ‘formal pants for men’ could be useful collections. Moreover, festival- and event-based collections are also quite common.
The key feature such a page should have is high-quality images that are relatively consistent for all the products in the relevant collection.
The importance of ecommerce merchandising today
There are several reasons why ecommerce merchandising is so important for online business owners today. Some of them are:
Building a positive brand image
Ecommerce merchandising is essential when selling online because visitors who are presented with a smooth, convenient and guided shopping experience are more likely to make a purchase. Moreover, such an experience will also improve your brand image. This means that customers will be more likely to make future purchases, and to recommend your store to other people.
Facilitating inventory turnover
Online store owners can incorporate ecommerce merchandising into their strategy for clearing out old or seasonal stocks. By placing and promoting certain products appropriately, they can improve their sales, thus ensuring that their inventory will be refreshed periodically.
Showcasing a large variety of products and categories
Smartly executed ecommerce merchandising can enable merchants to unobtrusively display a broad range of different products and categories to visitors. In this way, visitors can be made aware of many of your offerings without having to actually look for them.
Carrying out product promotions
This is one of the biggest reasons why merchants need to take ecommerce merchandising seriously: they can promote the products of their choice at various touchpoints (e.g. home page, brand page, category page, etc.). There are several kinds of standard on-store elements that are typically used for such promotions, including
Ecommerce merchandising: a key aspect of online business
With the proliferation of online shopping and social commerce, ecommerce merchandising has become a central part of the shopping experience with a brand. Without the right technology support or strategy, your product merchandising can fall short and lead to a poor customer experience.
On the other hand, paying special attention to advanced ecommerce merchandising strategies and techniques can be just what you need to take your online store to the next level. One way to do this is through AI-powered merchandising for deep personalization and intelligent site layouts.
Products such as Zevi are pioneering an approach to search merchandising (also known as “searchandising”) that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Zevi empowers brands with a toolkit that allows them to display search results that are as relevant as possible, among other features. Interested in exploring intelligent solutions to boost your online merchandising? Reach out to Zevi today to learn more.