3 Product Merchandising Steps to Creating an Excellent User Experience
As an eCommerce retailer, your goal is simple: To create the best shopping experience for your customers while increasing conversions.

In order to stand out from the endless amount of competitors out there, it’s crucial to have an up-to-date merchandising strategy to convert and gain new customers. This is especially important since the busy holiday shopping season is coming up!

It can be tricky to keep up with all the various ways to optimize eCommerce websites through the magic of merchandising, but don’t worry — we’ve got you covered. Here is a list of the top 3 steps to convert your browsers into buyers…

Step 1: Leveraging Your Website’s Data

Would you rather make merchandising decisions based off of guesswork or off of tangible facts?

Hopefully the latter was your choice. Making product merchandising decisions for your eCommerce store can effectively be done by looking at your analytics, and more specifically, by looking at your search analytics. Included in this plethora of information, are terms that are entered by shoppers, best performing terms and terms yielding no search results.

Looking into this data helps online retailers better understand their site visitors, by determining that kind of language and terminology is used to describe products. Analytics can also assist you in identifying where in the sales process your website is losing shoppers.

On-site search reports and analytics should be reviewed on a regular basis. Here are the main factors to be looking at:

Best Sellers:

These form the foundation of your revenue, they have consistently good performance that require little stimulation from you.

Merchandising tip: Place best sellers on the top of your product pages so they’re the first products that your shoppers see.

Slow Sellers:

There are many ways some products end up being slow sellers. Perhaps there’s a regional economic slowdown or there’s an overstock.

Merchandising tip: Remarket these slow sellers by holding a one-day “flash sale” and making it a major event. Or try bundling the slow selling product with a best seller. Ex “Get a hat for $2 when you buy a pair of sneakers” — to boost sales of both products. Check Joe Fresh’s example below.

slow sellers

Top Searches:

This data provides an in-depth look into which search terms are most commonly entered into the search box, and what shoppers are looking for. It’s an easy way to understand market and shopper trends. It’s also the closest you’ll ever get to seeing what customers are directly communicating — take advantage of it!

Merchandising tip: Push your top searched products to the top of the autocomplete search results or to product pages. This decreases the amount of clicks that customers must make, which enhances their shopping experience.

Search Terms Presenting Zero Results:

This data provides retailers with the search terms that are being entered into the search box and are presenting zero results.

Merchandising tip: Use this analytic to see what additional products you could be offering, because clearly your shoppers are demanding this product.
Merchandising tip 2: Additionally, this information can assist retailers in creating synonyms and redirect rules. Understanding which terms present zero results helps you in renaming poorly titled products. For example, if an e-retailer has labelled a product as “cap”, but shoppers are searching “hat”, they will be presented with zero results. It would be a good idea to change the name of the product to “hat”, or create a synonym rule that shows “hat” results when “cap” is typed in.

Step 2: Facilitate Finding Products

The goal is to get the browser to the right product, with as minimal amount of clicks as possible. There are an unknown number of potential journeys visitors can take en-route to your products, and your job is to make these journeys as easy as possible, and to provide new routes to product pages.

This can be done in a variety of ways:
site search

On-site Search:

If you invested in a robust search tool, make sure that you make the search box attractive for customers to want to use it. Some tips for search box placement are:

  • The search box should be large enough for the shopper to spot on your page at first glance.
  • Ensure the search box is above the fold, either in the top center, or top right corner of your website. These are the most popular, and effective spots to place the search box.
  • The search box should be clear from any distracting images.
  • Include text in the search box, prompting the shopper to take an action. Some examples are, “Search”, “Enter a Search Term”, or “What Can We Help You Find?”.

Adaptive Search:

This is a type of intelligent search technology that learns or adapts to the customer behaviors on your website, over time. This feature is highly effective for three reasons.

  • The adaptive search algorithm will change over time instead of staying static. As customer’s buying habits change and new products are introduced, so will search results.
  • It helps display products in a more effective way than simply by alphabetical order. It displays products by most popular, the most in-demand, or top searched.
  • It does all of this passively, without ever needing input from the e-retailer.

nextopia search

Banners:

These are an easy way to promote any piece of information in a visually appealing way. Use them to promote different kinds of sales, such as holiday and shipping sales.

Refinements:

These provide shoppers with an easy way to filter their search results and navigate through the product catalogue. Remember to only use relevant filters to not overwhelm the shopper. For example, the “shoe size” refinement, should not be a filter option for the dress category page.

nextopia refinements

Step 3: Highlight Shipping Rates

Let’s be honest –no one likes paying huge shipping fees. According to the BigCommerce Omni-Channel Retail Report, 66% of online shoppers have decided not to buy an item because of shipping costs. Additionally, 63% of online shoppers said that shipping costs are their least favorite part of online shopping.

Offering free shipping will improve your conversion rate, guaranteed, but it can also decrease your profit margins if you’re not careful. That’s why you should increase the minimum order value required for free shipping.

If you can’t afford to offer free shipping, offer shipping discounts or make sure to highlight the shipping rates so that the prices don’t sneak up on customers when they’re checking out. Not informing shoppers properly of the shipping costs creates a lack of trust and can hurt the customer’s shopping experience.

There are plenty of ways to keep shoppers informed regarding your shipping policies or offers:

Site-Wide Banners:

Highlight the free shipping threshold across your website on every page, so that shoppers are reminded that if they spend a certain amount, they won’t have to pay shipping. This motivates shoppers to spend more in an effort to avoid unnecessary shipping costs.

Geo Merchandising:

Increase conversions by ensuring that your customers are getting messages tailored to their specific location.

Highlight exclusive shipping offers for different regions. Example: Free shipping to Canada on over $40; guaranteed 2-day shipping within the USA.

Pick Up Locations:

If you have a physical store in the area, direct visitors to a nearby store to give the shopper an option to save on shipping.

Final Thoughts

Merchandising is an integral part of the eCommerce business model and it’s crucial to stay on top of since consumer trends change frequently. It doesn’t require much work from the eCommerce manager, but can do wonders if used properly.

 

Nextopia

This post was written by Michelle Seges, the Partner Marketing Coordinator at Nextopia. We are a SaaS-based eCommerce Acceleration platform that specializes in On-site Search, Navigation, and Merchandising. To learn more, visit our website here, or to request a free demo, please call us at 1-800-360-2191.