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Brick and mortar retailers are not the only ones who can leverage strategic placement of products, services, and more to facilitate the buyer’s journey. E-commerce and online retailers can digitally curate their stores through online merchandising to make sure key products and promotions are sufficiently highlighted.
Online merchandising, or e-commerce merchandising, is the process of structuring, organizing, and curating products offerings on a website to achieve specific business or marketing goals. This process often includes managing promotions, curating search results, and testing improvements to guide users through their customer journeys.
In today’s competitive e-commerce landscape, marketers must provide a unique shopping experience for their customers. Setting up an effective and differentiated user experience can not only increase conversion rates, but also create a lasting brand image that will keep customers coming back to you for the long term.
Online merchandising also helps businesses achieve their strategic business goals. Marketing campaigns can be implemented directly into the site through promotions and specials, and you can feature strategic partnerships to ensure the success of both you and your partners.
The merchandising process helps e-commerce businesses manage large and changing inventories. For instance, seasonal products or clearance items can be strategically placed and promoted to ensure inventory is turned over in a timely manner.
Online merchandising is an ongoing and iterative process. Here are four strategic best practices you can follow to boost your efforts:
As the entry point into your e-commerce site from search, social media, and more, it is imperative that the homepage provides an engaging and interactive experience to minimize bounce rates and get customers exploring the site. The homepage should:
The product description is typically the first place customers will go to learn about the products they’re interested in. You can think of this as the online equivalent of a sales representative pitching a product to an interested customer.
Descriptions should contain useful information about the product uses, specifications, materials, production, and benefits. You should also highlight shipping and production times, particularly if you’re offering free shipping. All of this should be done in an informative tone that matches your brand voice so that the customer feels connected.
Online visual merchandising is the process of strategically displaying of visual and design elements on the site. Implementing this effectively can help communicate the brand image, validate the brand legitimacy, and increase customer engagement.
The photos used on the site, as well as the general design, are key to this process. In addition to procuring high quality images of product offerings and thinking through design, it is important to iterate and tweak the visual design site to make sure it is most effective. These changes should be A/B tested to measure the impact on KPIs. Consumers are sensitive to these types of changes and it’s difficult to predict effects on their behavior, so quantitative measures can ensure that changes provide a positive impact.
As an online retailer, you can effectively track every move your customers make from search to purchase. This can be extremely valuable information for determining merchandising strategies, experimenting with different layouts and product descriptions, strategizing on future product offerings, and more. Furthermore, e-commerce sites can use social media retargeting pixels to run retargeting/remarketing campaigns and collect demographic information.
Search is increasingly becoming the entry point for the customer buying journey. However, many marketers don’t use search to its fullest extent, and they miss sales opportunities as a result. Search merchandising, or searchandising, allows curation of the search experience to drive business and marketing goals.
Here are a few powerful ways that site search can be used to improve the merchandising process:
Search is an essential component of the online merchandising process. Watch our webinar “Accelerating the path to the shopping cart” to learn how you can use search to engage users and increase sales.