First and foremost: get to know your customer
If you do not know who you are selling to and what your customers need or want, you do not know what to push either. Use analytic tools such as Google Analytics to find out more about the customer you want to serve.
Focus on data such as:
- returning or new customer;
- traffic channel (from what channel do they enter your website?).
Make sure that you are aware of your product information and sell-through. Build simple dashboards and reporting that you can use on a daily basis. If you monitor your product sales every day, you will be able to spot trends and act on this in advance.
Already take in account your:
- bestselling items;
- unsung heroes (the ‘in-between’ products. Not the worst, not the best);
- exclusive products (products that will set you apart from the competition).
Define strategic places on your website
Now you know who your customer and what your product sell-through is, you have to define strategic places on your website where you can start with your online merchandising.
- Your homepage
- The first 3 rows on a product listing page
- Recommendation boxes on your product detail page
- Upsell / recommendation box in your checkout
Finding a product
There are many chances for improving your navigation and the way of finding a product. The best way to measure this is by doing user research on this subject. Often companies work together with external agencies to set this up and define several user groups. Think about different scenarios, for example:
“I need a green pants for women with matching top and a belt”
This is the scenario that your user groups will execute. Often a recording is made and this shows you exactly how well your navigation and your website is working in general. This will give you very valuable insights into how your customer is looking for products.
However, a few standard elements that already can be setup are the following:
- Search bar
- Product recommendations
- Banners for highlighting products
- Specific product landing pages
- Product finders
- Product comparison tools
Never just rely on your navigation and homepage. Visitors are entering your site via different channels and directions. Make sure it is always easy to find what you are looking for.
Selling the product
If the customer finds the product he is looking for, this does not mean the product is already sold. The customer needs to be persuaded before actually doing a purchase. Make sure your product detail pages contain the following elements:
- Clear product descriptions
- Reviews and ratings (still very important to customers in the decision-making process)
- Photography with zoom ability
- Video (365)
- Cross-selling. It could be that your customer is not sure yet which product he wants. Make sure to display comparable items so that he can continue to orientate on your website
Online merchandising does not stop in the cart. Your checkout funnel should be as efficient and clear as possible to your customer. Analyze on what pages your customer is eager to ‘step out’ and see what you can do to improve them.
To take in mind:
- Integrate FAQ and delivery information so that the customer does not need to leave the cart
- Show the customer in which step he or she is. This way, they know what to expect
- In the earlier stages of your checkout you can still generate some up-sell. Show cheaper relevant accessories that might be of interest to your customer.
How to manage your online merchandising from day to day?
- Create presentable dashboards and automatic reporting to avoid spending too much time on complicated excel sheets. Analyze the performance of both your product categories and your website itself to make sure you are on the right track every week.
- Check the results from your search functionality. What did your customers search for last week? How can you improve this?
- Are you selling in multiple countries? Check the results per site. Localized merchandising is very important to stay relevant to the customer.