E-commerce merchandising is changing rapidly in 2018, as imaging technology and big data change the way that ecommerce stores market their products to both first-time and returning customers. For the first time, online retailers have been able to leverage technology to create personalized shopping experiences at scale, efficiently connecting shoppers with the products that they’re looking for so they can click “Add to Cart”.
In this guide to improving conversions in online retail, we’re sharing the specific e-commerce merchandising techniques that leading online retailers are using, and that you can use to deliver a fantastic customer experience that leads to better conversions and higher sales.
Convert Browsers into Buyers on High Traffic Pages
Online retailers need to start funneling shoppers towards their most popular product and category pages from the moment they land on the website. Put differently, if the goal of e-commerce merchandising is to get the customer to click “Add to Cart”, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t see products promoted front-and-center on the most popular and highly-trafficked pages of your website.
Smart online merchandisers understand that they’re still competing for the attention of shoppers once they’ve landed on their home page. They promote coordinated sets of individual products, their best-selling products, products that are on sale, products that are reduced to clear, anything with the appeal and intrigue to get a shopper’s attention and generate a click-through (and hopefully a sale).
High traffic pages are the most valuable real estate on your website. To optimize conversions, display sets of your most interesting, best-selling and featured products. Capture the customer’s product preferences and interactions so you can use them to deliver personalized recommendations (more on this later).
Optimize Your Product and Category Pages to Trigger Sales
Many online retailers focus their efforts on optimizing their home page and other high-traffic pages and may be guilty of neglecting category pages entirely. While it is crucial to optimize conversions on high-traffic pages first, product and category pages need to be given the proper attention to ensure conversions.
The number one mistake that online retailers make when designing category and product pages is that they focus so much on the logical aspects – organization of the products, search functions, product tags and text descriptions – that they actually forget that purchasing decisions are made in the emotional side of the brain, not the logical one. Product and category pages need to be optimized to appeal to the shopper while being easy to navigate and delivering a personalized experience. Here are the latest techniques that online retailers are using to optimize conversions on product/category pages.
Show Off Products from Multiple Angles
Purchasing an item online is fundamentally different from picking it up in a bricks-and-mortar store. Shoppers can’t pick up the item, feel its weight, or feel the material – they’re relying on the images provided to convey as much information as possible about the product. Online retailers need to use images to display their products in context and bring them to life for their shoppers. When shoppers are shown a product from every angle, they form a complete mental image that lets them envision the product in their own lives.
Show Shoppers How to Wear Products
Online retailers can pair products with other complementary or matching products to optimize conversions. Pairing products together creates context around the product and helps the shopper envision themselves pairing the product with items in their own wardrobe. They may also purchase products that are pictured together. Showing how a product looks on different models can help shoppers with diverse body types envision themselves wearing the pictured items.
Online retailers can also feature user-generated content on their product/category pages using hashtags and a social media feed. User-generated content leverages your brand’s loyalty into free marketing materials, providing “social proof” that your products are loved and driving conversions in the process.
Switch Custom Images by Color Selection
If a product is available in several colors, shoppers need to be able to access images of the product in their chosen color selection. Digital merchandising software can be used to present items in different colors, removing the need to take individual photographs of each differently colored product.
Deliver Personalized Product Recommendations
Personalized product recommendations are unarguably one of the leading methods of boosting e-commerce sales in 2018. For proof of concept, look no further than Amazon.com – the retail behemoth generates 35% of its revenue through its product recommendation engine. Product recommendations are a reflection of the data that online retailers capture about their visitors. They should reflect a genuine attempt to show shoppers a product that they might really want to buy. Here’s how the leading online retailers today are making personalized product recommendations for their shoppers.
Promote Recently Viewed Items on Every Page
If a shopper has viewed an item more than once in the past, chances are they’re thinking hard about making the purchase. Promoting recently viewed items on every page of your website ensures that the shopper sees the image of that product each time they return to the website – they’re reminded that they spent time looking at it and they’re encouraged to come back and look again. This promotion also acts as a service to the shopper – they don’t have to navigate through our pages to find items the have recently looked at – we’re making them easily accessible from wherever they are on the website.
Present Images of Items Bought Together
In a grocery store, the pasta and tomato sauce are always in the same aisle. Same with the chips and salsa. Grocery store managers understand that some items are frequently bought together, and that putting those items physically close together in the store is the best way to maximize sales. When a shopper views a product page, presenting them with images of other products that are bought together with their product is a great up-selling tactic to boost conversions. Clothing retailers can show shoppers how to “Complete the look” or “Ways to wear it…”
Tune into Your Shopper’s Browsing Activity
If a website visitor is shopping high heels, boost search results for high heels on subsequent page visits. If a visitor is looking for men’s shoes, boost men’s shoes and related products on subsequent pages. Highlight the most frequently purchased or best-reviewed products in the categories that the shopper views most often.
Delivering personalized product recommendations depends on capturing data from our visitors and re-using it when they come back later. Return shoppers and previous buyers are the most important customers for online retailers, as they convert at a much higher rate than first-time visitors. Offering a convenient and personalized shopping experience is a great way to win their loyalty and keep them coming back.
Ecommerce is changing rapidly in 2018 as online retailers adopt new technologies that help improve their merchandising techniques and drive conversions. Online retailers in 2018 must recognize that they are competing for attention from shoppers as soon as they arrive, and that promoting key items on their high-traffic pages is the first step to creating an engaging shopping experience for new visitors.
Product and category pages are often the biggest missed opportunity in ecommerce stores – they should be optimized with product images that display products in-context, next to similar or related items, or as part of an outfit. User-generated content can be incorporated to provide “social proof”. Shoppers also want to see product images in their chosen color.
Delivering personalized product recommendations enhances the customer experience for returning shoppers, who typically convert at a higher rate than first-time visitors. Online retailers can base recommendations on the shopper’s purchase history and recently viewed items, or use aggregated data from all shoppers.