Ecommerce merchandising is the ultimate task each business owner has to consider to drive more sales. Visual merchandising works well not just for brick-and-mortar stores but has demonstrated its effectiveness for online businesses as well.
An efficient eCommerce merchandising strategy can increase the average order value, take customer experience to the next level, and boost sales.
It’s possible to arrange products manually or implement AI-powered systems. In this article, you will find out how to employ the best and most effective eCommerce visual merchandising tactics that can skyrocket your business.
What Is eCommerce Merchandising?
eCommerce visual merchandising is a practice of displaying items on a website in the way they attract customer attention, highlight product benefits and maximise sales.
In traditional retail, visual merchandising build communication with customers through the elements which can impact their senses. That’s why it is a common practice to spray the smell of freshly-baked bread near the bakery shelves in a supermarket or highlight new cookie packages brighter. You must also notice that bakery, fresh fruits and vegetables are mostly placed at the point of entry to set a pleasant atmosphere with the help of colours and smells.
Suppliers often pay to arrange their products on eye-level shelves. Products which people usually search for can be found on higher or lower shelves. Visual merchandising experts think about the whole customer journey to make consumers browse longer in a store and buy more.
In eCommerce, the homepage is your showcase, the category and product pages are the shelves. As with physical stores, you should focus on your key areas, in terms of revenue, products and arrange these in the way your customers will notice them and purchase.
Main Tactics for Great eCommerce Merchandising
For online stores, vision is a single human sense you can influence.That’s why digital retailers try to enrich visual merchandising with psychological marketing approaches.
Such categories as “Top Rated This Month” are used as social proof, the “Sale” section reflects the propensity to save, such categories as “Celebrity’s choice” cover the need to follow influencers and be trendy (authority), the “Last items in stock” play upon scarcity and fear of missing something out.
The latest research showed that eCommerce websites mostly use the following merchandising techniques:
- What’s new (86%)
- Themed / Seasonal Areas (54%)
- Top Sellers (40%)
- Brand / Merchant (38%)
- Loyalty Program (22%)
- Trending Now (18%)
- Merchandise Awards (14%)
- Top Rated Products (13%)
- As Advertised (8%)
Creativity and cunning based on your analytics insights are crucial skills you need for profitable visual eCommerce merchandising. Depending on the web design of your online store, you can combine layout tactics which we will describe below.
Top-Selling Products Above the Fold
One of the most common but still efficient eCommerce merchandising tactics is to put the best sellers on top to entice customers. This section grabs 80% of visitors’ attention.
Besides the best-selling products, you can put the latest deals, sales, and discounts as well as the latest releases on top of your eCommerce website.
You probably know how to highlight these products on your home page. But when it comes to category pages, you can do this by adding an appropriate filtering attribute to specific items. To demonstrate, a fashion online retailer 6pm.com has added a new filtering group #FUNJEWELRY19 to products from a new collection and applied this filter as default on a category page. Thus when a new customer visits the website, new products attract their attention first.
Related Products and Recommendations
The main goal of this merchandising tactic is to extend the visitor session duration by encouraging a customer to check other items after landing on a product page.
The latest personalisation trend will perfectly suit your visual eCommerce merchandising approach. However, if you don’t have an opportunity to apply these algorithms, try to build your recommendations on the following factors:
- Popular Products
- New Arrivals
- Other products from this collection
- Other products of this brand
The Walmart example demonstrates the eCommerce merchandising tactic on how to layout more recommended products from the same category by splitting them into two separate sections with synonym titles.
To give your customers a vision of how a particular product may look in their homes or on themselves, you can showcase the full collection on top of the page. Below the page, divide it into subsections and place product cards.
To demonstrate, we will review this example on an eCommerce website. Due to the excellent photo composition, separate items look like pieces of a puzzle which customers can fit into their interior.
This particular merchandising principle for eCommerce will be perfect for home decoration (including wallpapers or flooring), furniture and home appliances stores as well as fashion retailers.
The collection-based merchandising technique is widely used in brick-and-mortar stores. Thus in Ikea, you can find a new collection arranged as a separate room to engage customers to buy more items. That’s why Ikea managed to sell third-party household appliances that complement their furniture.
Category Grid with Prices
Another merchandising approach which inspires customers to surf your eCommerce website longer is displaying best deals on homepage category grid photos.
This simple psychological trick is based on the fact that almost 60% of consumers pay attention to discounts and promotions.
Carousels With Multiple Items on the Home Page
Product carousels on your eCommerce website may fulfil multiple functions.
On the one part, you can create category-focused carousels on your homepage. But if there are a score of items in your online store, this approach may look overwhelmed or require constant efforts to change categories from month to month.
Another option is to create unique category carousels which will combine products from different categories. Thus, if you design such group as “Editors’ Pick”, then add one item from each category to cover your product diversity. Don’t create a separate page for this purpose, as you wish to encourage customers to visit your home page more often.
This eCommerce visual merchandising approach increases the likelihood that visitors will find the desired product type right within your homepage. And you will receive more sales.
Occasion-Based Product Mix
Another eCommerce visual merchandising trick is to combine products from different categories on one page to increase the average items per cart.
This is a great way to give customers all the products they might want for some special occasion and save them time.
You can check the Asos website, which is an excellent example of categories that combine clothing, shoes, and accessories that will be perfect for going out.
This technique can be applied not only in fashion retail. For instance, if you have a motor parts store, you may combine items on the “Must-Haves for Your New Car” page. Just find relevance to your niche occasions.
This easy merchandising approach for placing seasonal products on the home page enhances customer curiosity and raise emotions.
But it’s not necessary to use this approach bluntly by placing evident products on your home page. You can play with associations and, say, layout warm coloured items in the autumn collection. Thus, you can sell your ordinary goods in an unordinary way.
Colour Variation Swatches
Displaying different colour variations of a specific product is a superb merchandising tactic that increases the average pages per visit, which consequently, positively affects the customer experience on your eCommerce website.
We have found that some retailers display not only colour but form variation swatches as well. Please be careful here not to confuse your customers.
Product Hints in Search
Did you know that almost 30% of consumers use an internal website search? Try to take your search functionality to the next level by adding product thumbnails into search results along with category/product hints.
Zumiez uses this merchandising approach and recommends customers top-selling items. To enhance the likelihood that customers will want to click on your products, you may also add prices and ratings below, as iHerb has done.
AI-driven merchandising for eCommerce is the latest and hottest technique that allows making suggested products and search results as personalised as possible. Artificial Intelligence can offer a customer the best matching items based on the things that they have already purchased or viewed.
The system analyses the following data on user behaviour:
- the number of sold units;
- the number of views;
- the number of sales to uniques customers;
- filters a customer applied;
- devices used, and so on.
Based on actual and historical data, the system will offer an individualised list of the most popular products that this user is more likely to purchase on your eCommerce website.
Amazon is a canonical example of a retailer that applies AI-powered systems for visual merchandising.
Wrapping It Up
Experts expect that almost 90% of online shopping experience will be automated by computers with AI-powered eCommerce optimisation in 5 years’ time. That’s why if you are planning to be ahead of the game, we would recommend to learn last-fashion merchandising solutions and be creative in your product layouts.
Visual merchandising centres around affecting human senses. Even following these 9 tactics will increase your sales, optimise your stock and improve customer experience.
To better understand your audience, analyse their shopping behaviour on your website. This data will become an excellent basis for your further eCommerce merchandising experiments.