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What Is Digital Merchandising and How Do You Implement It?

What Is Digital Merchandising and How Do You Implement It?

Online sales will reach 22% of global retail sales by 2023, according to eMarketer. Since ecommerce sales accounted for 13% of total sales in the third quarter of 2021 in the US alone, it seems to check out.

Shopping online is convenient, which is why it’s so popular. And while that works to the advantage of a modern consumer, the same can’t be said for the people behind the brands. 

The digital merchandising struggle is real, especially when compared to visual merchandising in physical stores. It takes a lot of convincing to convert lurkers to shoppers since they can’t personally experience the product, and the online space offers too many distractions online. 

It takes creativity and innovation to stand out. In this post, we’ll talk about digital merchandising strategies and see some examples to assist you in building your brand.

What’s digital merchandising?

Digital merchandising, also known as ecommerce or online merchandising, encompasses all activities related to marketing your goods online. 

In terms of the end objective of bringing in customers, it’s similar to brick-and-mortar marketing, but the tactics and strategies differ greatly because everything happens online. This includes:

  • Product display
  • Product placement
  • Image creation
  • Branding 

All of these elements should work together to get shoppers to click that elusive “buy” button. But it needs to be done in a strategic and clever way, because the sleazy salesman approach doesn’t resonate with modern consumers.

Why is digital merchandising important?

Since 75% of people shop online at least once a month, it only makes sense to improve your digital merchandising efforts and make the most of this revenue stream. 

Product presentation has taken on a life of its own, requiring digital merchandising strategies to draw customers and generate sales. 

But it’s a lot more than making the website presentable. It’s about creating an enticing experience that customers find it hard to abandon their carts. 

When done right, digital merchandising can achieve the following:

Display a wide range of products. The more products you put in front of the customer, the more likely it is you will sell them.

Hook customers’ attention. Human attention span has decreased from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds today. With a lot of distractions, you need compelling merchandising initiatives to keep customers engaged. 

Make buyers out of browsers. The average cart abandonment rate sits at 69.57%. If you want to boost your retail revenues, you need to convince these browsers that your products are worth the purchase.

How to create a successful digital merchandising campaign ( + examples)

Leveraging digital merchandising tactics can help you influence your buyer’s shopping habits. Here are some tips to create an enjoyable and effective customer experience on your website.

Personalize your approach

Imagine marketing your products to a person who doesn’t need them. It comes off a little spammy, doesn’t it? It happens to many people all the time, and probably to you as well. Getting ads for video games when you don’t play any, bombarding you with marketing campaigns for a toy company when you don’t have kids yet. The list goes on.

This type of generic approach doesn’t cut it anymore. Here’s why:

  • More than 30% of customers say they would like their shopping experience to be more personalized 
  • 96% of marketers have seen an improvement in customer relationships with personalization.

Technology is advancing at a rapid pace, so your brand should be able to create targeted campaigns. If you fail to do this, you dampen your customers’ shopping experiences and make them doubt your credibility.

You don’t want to make your customers feel as though they wasted their time on your website when they’re looking for products that reflect their personality. For a shopper that is highly inclined to luxury goods, dangling an array of discount products hardly makes sense.  

Fashion and fitness brand Bandier does a great job of considering their audience. Here’s how:

Source: Bandier

If you click on the product above, and scroll further down on the page, you’ll see matching and similar items to choose from.

Source: Bandier

Leverage data and information to serve your customers better

Data is at your disposal as a digital merchandiser — and it’s meant to be taken advantage of. However, too much information can be overwhelming if you’re unsure how to interpret it and integrate it into your strategy. Here are ways you can use this information to find out what drives purchases, optimize your merchandising tactic, and increase conversion rates.

  •  Find out what’s popular in your target market. Thanks to social media, it’s easy to find out what your customers are into. Look at your performance on different platforms and collect the number of likes, comments, and shares of your products. From there, you can easily pick out which products stand out. 
  • Keep these relevant products available. Your product portfolio has winners, chasers, and losers. And once you’ve found out which of these products are selling like hotcakes, you can keep them in stock or display them where your target audience can easily see them.
  • Learn to stay ahead of the game. Don’t just be on the lookout for what’s hot right now — think of the future, as well. Introduce new products that your shoppers might like by showing them popular searches or recommended items when they are looking for trends or shopping frequently. Set the tone for trends on your website by letting your visitors know what’s trending right now.

Vend by Lightspeed offers robust reporting capabilities that can inform your merchandising decisions, both online and offline. Easily view your bestsellers and high-margin items to gain the insights you need to craft irresistible merchandising displays. 

Remember, the best shopping experiences make you feel like you’re discovering something new. Customers will look forward to interacting with your brand if you stay relevant, become a trendsetter, honor their interests, and of course, surprise them from time-to-time. 

Give extra value aside from your products.

The phrase “content is king” rings very true in this day and age. Retailers need high-quality, engaging, and relevant content to succeed, and it’s often associated with SEO and content marketing.

But guess what? It also applies to your digital merchandising strategies. If you want your customers to keep checking out your website, there’s more to it than just loading it with products. 

Produce great content that your customers will find useful and interesting, such as reviews and product tips. Get creative and incorporate different types of content, such as images, videos, and infographics to offer variety. This works because of the following reasons:

  • It keeps them busy on your website, increasing your time spent on page.
  • It pushes your consumers to take action on an impulse purchase. 
  • It assures your customers that you are legitimate
  • It creates an enjoyable viewing experience. 

Show items related to the content they are checking out, tailored to the viewer’s interests. Look at how Pura Vida Bracelets does it here:

Source: Pura Vida

Aside from the product on top, you can also see their beautifully curated Instagram photos, suggested products, and customer reviews on the bottom.

Make searching and filtering merchandise a breeze

Your search tool serves as your sales associate on your website. Online shoppers don’t have the convenience of asking anyone to direct them to the products they are looking for, which is why you need to maximize your search tool’s potential

This requires you to revisit tip #2. See how your audience behaves and what terms they use for a particular product. You need to cover all the bases to ensure it’s easier for them to get to the product they’re looking for. 

Another thing to consider is displaying images right away when they are searching for a particular product. It’s more than just predictive text. In addition to saving the time and hassle of sorting through search results, this feature also makes shopping more relevant and entertaining.

And there’s a bonus: some people would click on something based on its appearance even if they aren’t exactly looking for that product.  

Here’s a good example of a good search engine from Torrid, a plus-size fashion brand. They carry a wide range of products, so providing one that returns precise and refined results allows customers to shop more efficiently. 

Source: Torrid Website   

Convert browsers into paying customers with clear CTAs

Guide your readers into action by giving out clear and strategically placed CTAs. Think of your CTA as your best sales closer. It’s so easy to overlook them because most shops think they can get away with just saying “Buy Now.”

However, it’s more straightforward to close a sale in physical stores since you know these people traveled to your shop with the intention to purchase. While an online shopper can easily be someone who’s still in bed, half-asleep and just happily browsing on your website. Therefore, they need more push.

By placing CTAs above the fold or in the right places, you can improve engagement rates and guide customers to different sections of your website. Use it as a chance to convince visitors that they’re on your site for a good reason and will gain something from the interaction.

Another to work on is reducing cart abandonment rates. Abandoned carts mean you lost your shoppers along the way, along with the marketing resources you spent to bring them to your ecommerce site. 

As a marketer, your goal is to make sure every effort pays off. One way to do that is to leverage retargeting ads and placing gentle pop-up reminders to remind them what they possibly miss if they exit your website.

Scarletto’s, a shoe brand, does a great job of reeling exiting customers back in by creating a pop up reminder with a nice headline and a discount offer too sweet to resist. 

Source: OptiMonk

Final words

Keeping product flying off the shelves isn’t just about souring the right items. You also need to merchandise them properly and showcase them in the best possible way. Hopefully that tips above inspire your digital merchandising efforts and help you create online displays the convert more customers. 

About Francesca Nicasio

Francesca Nicasio is Vend’s Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She’s also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.