A Guide to E-Commerce Merchandising

April 02, 2021

Merchandising is the promotion of products and/or services that are available for retail sale. It includes determining quantities, setting prices for the products, creating display designs, developing marketing strategies, and establishing discounts or coupons.

Merchandising for physical retail shops often includes engaging customers from the moment they walk by (think elaborate window displays) to the moment they exit, purchase in hand (think scents, music and other elements aimed at driving sales and leaving a lasting impression).

Today, with so much revenue being driven online rather than offline, e-commerce companies are discovering their own ways to “merchandise” by making strategic visual decisions that go beyond designing a clean, responsive site. 

As an online store owner, you may be wondering how merchandising an online store works or why it even matters. Here’s why –

- Businesses are required to provide a unique and great shopping experience for their customers, to be relevant or recognized in today’s competitive market. This not only results in better conversions, but also creates a lasting reputation for your brand, which will make customers want to keep coming back to you in future.

- Online merchandising helps businesses achieve their strategic business goals and manage their inventories – in case of changes, or growth.

- Marketing campaigns can be added directly into e-commerce sites through promotions, to promote the products and drive sales.

Merchandising online is an iterative process, and businesses need to practice some proven and effective strategies as given below, to get the process right and benefit well from it.

More emphasis on the home page

Make your e-commerce website’s home page as stunning and attractive as possible, because it is the face and first view of your site, and plays a major role in engaging the visitors, providing them an interactive experience, and ensuring the bounce rates are minimized.

Some areas you can work on are on it are:

- Show products that are most popular, frequently bought, recommended products or highest rated ones and so on…make these products the star of your page.

- Making sure the search bar is clearly visible to users

- Add a call-to-action option that is easily accessible, so interested people can contact you instantly before changing their mind.

Simple product focus

This is a merchandising technique that requires keeping things minimal, with just a few images and links on the homepage. This can include products from a specific category or group or products that have an offer going on.

A top menu can be added for customers to navigate or browse by clicking one of the listed products on the homepage, which takes them to a “product page” that will have pictures and all the information of that product in more detail. This way, customers will have access to each product and also get a quick view of these in the first look.

This is a simple technique which can be helpful for businesses that are starting out or are new to the e-commerce platform and trying to bring in more customers. Beginning with simple product focus, these businesses can slowly build their way up to bigger strategies of online merchandising, as their sales and customers grow.

Use collection-based merchandising strategy

You can make use of collection-based merchandising, to let customers find what they want more easily. Collections are products that are grouped together under different categories, making it easy to target various customers through search words, while also helping them navigate your e-commerce store more easily. 

Collections also generally make visitors explore your store further. This is especially useful if you want to do cross-selling of products.

You can further use your recommended/popular products feature to highlight your best products while keeping your site navigable for people shopping with a specific need in mind. 

Make the store layout attractive

The look and feel of the store pages on which the list of products is displayed, also need to be attractive to customers and crystal clear. It shouldn’t be messy or confusing, crowded or crammed with too many items.

An ideal way is to show items in a grid layout arrangement, highlighting special offers and seasonal items on the top or somewhere on the sides. But there are many other possibilities, as online businesses are not bound by buildings and limited spaces, the design possibilities are abundant to experiment with. But you need to take the crucial things into account and make sure the final design addresses these.

Providing personalised customer experiences: A key to online merchandising is providing a personalized shopping experience for every visitor and showing them relevant products based on their search and preferences. You can use the search bar search words to identify these interests and promote specific products to users while they search.

If a user has a history with your store, the search history can be saved, monitored and the past purchase behaviour can be utilized to show relevant content that they are more likely to go for.

The competition in the e-commerce market keeps growing each day, so it is important to create a strategy for merchandising your products and highlight all the good features so that people know about them, and are encouraged to buy.

Also, while using these techniques it is important to remember to always be true to your brand and not let it lose the uniqueness by copying things that others do too closely.