Merchandising in retail is like candy on Halloween; it’s hard to think of one without the other. In the current state of retail, and especially online retail, visual merchandising is the cherry on top that converts shoppers into buyers.
With the seemingly endless numbers of competitors out there, an up-to-date merchandising strategy is a must to convert and gain new customers. The vast majority (97%) of website visits don’t end in a purchase, which can be a major drag for online retailers. There’s a huge opportunity, though, as August 2014 saw an 11% increase in sales, compared to August 2013. It’s just a matter of attracting the right consumers and getting them to complete their purchases. This is where merchandising comes in to save the day.
Merchandising can come in many different forms, from inventory to pricing, and beyond—but the end goal is always the same: to drive conversions. It can be tricky to keep up with all the different ways online retailers can optimize their stores through the magic of merchandising, so here is a list of the top five tips to help retailers of all sizes.
1. Get mobile optimized…yesterday
Almost half (40%) of consumers don’t feel comfortable shopping online and it doubles to 80% when we’re talking about shopping on mobile. This may look dismal, but it means that your webstore not only needs to be mobile friendly, but also wow shoppers on whichever screen they prefer.
2. The clearer, the better
Shoppers don’t want to be confused. Do you know what happens when they’re confused? Yep, you guessed it, they vanish. Luckily, there are many things you can do to cut down on those pesky abandoned carts. Here are a few:
- Add interactive tools that aid customer purchase decisions. This can help retailers see up to a 40% boost in conversions. This is especially important for ecommerce because you can’t be there like a salesperson can in a brick and mortar store. Add a live chat feature to support shoppers and get them closer to checkout.
- Improve your search function. Did you know that 11%-15% of consumers start shopping by searching for a specific product in search bars? This number is on the rise, so it’s prime time to take advantage of this. Shoe retailer, FootSmart, made a small change by adjusting search results to include top items sold and saw an impressive 82% increase in conversions.
- Provide shipping policies and estimations as early as possible in the checkout process. Offering free shipping is a great way to increase average order value because 93% of shoppers take actions to qualify for free shipping.
3. Keep it short and sweet
The fewer steps to purchase, the better. When retailers ask for too much information or otherwise complicate the process, shoppers drop out of the sales funnel. To help this, you should decrease the number of steps it takes to complete a purchase and provide a status bar up top to show that it won’t take them long to checkout. You also want to provide clear, descriptive, and to-the-point product descriptions to resolve any confusion.
4. Be data driven
Analytics can help retailers make better merchandising decisions. More than half of retail leaders (63%) already do it—so if you want to keep up and get ahead, you should, too. Data is your friend because it can teach you what works and what doesn’t. Walmart is a great example of a retailer that used data to its advantage. After crunching the numbers, Walmart learned that diapers and beer sales were highly correlated. So you know what stores did? They put these two aisles side by side and saw a sales increase for beer. Cheers to that!
5. Keep your enemies closer
You already know that competition is fierce in online retail, but what can you do about it? The first step is to know exactly what’s going on in your competitive landscape at all times. How are your competitors pricing? What do they have in stock? When do they run out of products that you carry? Tracking competitors and their inventories can clear this up once and for all. Then retailers can fill in the gaps in their inventory and effectively become a more successful competitor. The more you know, the better your sales can be.