7 ingenious merchandising ideas for your ecommerce site

Ecommerce conversions is a vast field of discussions with a mind-boggling variety of factors contributing to the eventual bottom line of a store. Store merchandising, or the way you display items in your online store, plays a vital role on how well your site attracts and retains shoppers’ fickle attention.

Below we discuss seven winning ideas to take your store merchandising to a whole new level:

Work on making your site a pleasure to browse

Notice how the best stores have the most inviting layouts? Many real-world retailers resort to using mood music, special fragrances and color therapy to put shoppers in a more “buying” frame of mind. Even though these aspects do not directly deal with products that a store sells, they hugely influence the way a shopper perceives those products and responds to them. Extend these insights to your online store by designing a layout that is easy on the eye, yet familiar enough to enable online shoppers find their way around it.

If you’re on a budget and don’t have a professional designer prettying your site up, invest in a DIY website builder like Spaces along with landing pages with A/B testing from Unbounce, and take on the project yourself; the aim is to make your site something a user looks forward to using. Focus continually on aspects like improving site speed, reducing the length of the checkout process, and simple navigation overall to nudge users further along the path to purchase.

A picture speaks a thousand words

We have all been told a million times that human beings are visual creatures. Notice how seeing is believing, not hearing? That primal connection that we have to a stunning image is something every ecommerce store ought to leverage to the fullest extent in its conversion strategies.

As users are unable to touch and feel your products, offering them the highest quality of product images is a bare minimum necessity. By adding features like deep zoom or the option to rotate items 360 degrees or even allowing users to virtually try-on items before they make a purchase, offers a richer, physical store-like experience to your online shopper.


A photoshoot in progress at Zulily’s office

Image: A photoshoot in progress at Zulily’s office

If you can afford it, take a page out of Zulily’s book and get personalized shots of your products instead of putting up stock pictures that come from the manufacturers. Not only will these lend a modicum of interest to the site, they’ll also help you get unique image backlinks from image search engines.

Embrace tools, charts and gizmos

Comparison charts, calculator widgets, and so on are great options for arousing shopper interest and keeping them hooked on your site. These include size converters for apparel sites that operate in different geographies, design-your-own outfit apps, shipping price calculators, or even price match apps that promise to equal the lowest price offered by any competitor for the same product.

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Walmart’s Savings Catcher app

Not only do these nifty tools vastly improve your users’ experience on your site, they also make their lives easier while helping your site’s traffic, popularity and rankings on search engines.

Getting pricing right

Pricing is an integral part of an online store’s merchandising strategy. There are tons of factors that affect the way a user perceives the same price on a particular item. By dipping into a little bit of pricing psychology, you can turn a mundane chore into a money-spinner for your site.

Consider this scenario: You need to increase sales for your bread and butter product. To entice users into buying that item and not anything else, you can “frame” the item on a product page between much higher priced items, making your target item look like a real steal. That’s the framing effect for you right there, applied to a pricing scenario.

Studies show that when you make a claim like “Prices slashed!” it helps to keep the newly discounted prices in smaller font compared to the original price. Shoppers perceive the item’s price to be lower than if the same discounted price was displayed at the same font size as the before-discount price.

Don’t make them search for your search bar

Web search is a huge part of the average netizen’s online life. Whether it’s searching for the closest dry cleaners or figuring out how to solve a quadratic equation, online search comes to our rescue time and again. This same dependence on search carries over when shoppers land on your ecommerce site.

Get your site search up to speed with the expectations of today’s online shoppers. From offering autocomplete on search queries to allowing users to search by brand name or product ID, or even letting them organise their search results using drilled-down filters, there are a host of things you can do to improve your site search.

According to Angelica Valentine, a small tweak in their site search function helped shoe retailer FootSmart grow conversions by a whopping 82%.

Tempting deals ‘n’ steals

This is the oldest trick in the book. Any retail store worth its salt knows that the way to lure in customers through the front door is by offering them your most tempting deals upfront. Take heed from this oldie but goodie that every physical retailer in the world swears by and invite your users to explore your site with mouthwatering deals.

A dedicated deals section that gets updated deals on a weekly basis is a great idea for repeat traffic. Create a permanent clearance section where you can offer last season’s unsold or slow-moving goods for throwaway prices. Not only do you move old stock, you still make some money on it instead of writing it off as business losses. The best part? The bargain hunters among your customers will love the option of paying dirt cheap prices at the cost of seeming a little out of step with the latest styles.

Invite user-generated content

User-generated content is the flavour of the season for so many different reasons. UGC makes your brand look inviting and cool, asking users to let their creativity loose. The fact that a user cares enough to create “looks” or a wish-list item means that they are deeply invested in your brand. The process of creating content especially for your site brings them closer still.

My favourite example of user-generated content in action on an ecommerce site is ModCloth’s UGC section called Be the Buyer. The section allows users to go behind the lines and rate the outfits that they would like to see featured on the main site. Based on their votes and comments, Mod Cloth will then offer the items for sale on the main site.

Over to you

Merchandising your website is like dressing up your shop window. A gorgeous mannequin with a large sale sign next to it will always win over a dull shelf with a bunch of items stacked on it. Tell us what you do to make your online shop window attractive to your shoppers. We’re all ears!

Rohan Ayyar


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