7 Common Questions and Answers to Online Merchandising
As technology progresses and retailers increasingly make use of the internet, there has never been a stronger need for excellent online merchandising strategies. But what are the most effective and efficient strategies?
1. How can I use images effectively?
Avoid stock images and make high-quality, high-res photos your priority because images are what an online customer sees first. By showcasing your product in the most vivid way possible, you’re giving visitors answers in a visual, immediate way. For example, if you’re selling a couch, set it against a plain backdrop and show how it’s used by photographing a person on it in an audience-appropriate way (for example, a family on a large couch or a hipster on an egg chair). This creates context for your customers and allows them to visualize themselves on it instead of looking at a plain photo of a nondescript item.
2. Should I use mannequins or models?
The choice between mannequins and models is often a personal one, and each has its pros and cons. For example, Old Navy uses mannequins with goofy expressions, which are synonymous with the brand but largely ineffective because they distract from the clothing they’re wearing. Using a live model, on the other hand, helps visitors see exactly how a product looks on an actual person.
3. What should my home page look like?
Your home page should be as simple and streamlined as possible. When it comes to websites, the current trend is high minimalism (Google is an excellent example), so only the most basic, concise information is immediately visible. By not overwhelming visitors and giving them easy-to-see navigation options, you have an edge over your competitors in terms of stay rates and click analytics. One of the worst things you can do is present a home page that’s busy and difficult to navigate. With so many other options available, visitors won’t bother with your site anymore.
4. Once I’ve set up my home page, how should I arrange the merchandise?
Categories are a highly efficient way of organizing merchandise and the next logical step in a minimalist home page design. A good way to categorize your merchandise is by use. For example, if you own a clothing store, create categories such as men’s and women’s, brand, upper or lower body garments and length of sleeve or leg. It also helps to cross-reference your products so that visitors won’t miss finding something, as your method of categorizing clothing may be different from theirs.
5. How can I sell more expensive items or items that need to be cleared to make way for others?
Select the items you want to move and feature them alongside searches to cross-sell, upsell and downsell. Using the clothing store example, if a visitor searches for white T-shirts and you’d rather they spend twice as much on black T-shirts, upsell the latter as an alternative. However, if you have an excess of white T-shirts and visitors are searching for black T-shirts, simply reverse the process (downsell). As for cross-selling, feature a row at the bottom that lists the most commonly searched for and purchased items.
6. How can I urge visitors to buy “neutral” items?
Reviews are one of the most important, effective ways to help visitors make a purchase. And with today’s tech-savvy visitors being more discriminating than ever, you need to give them real-life proof of the quality of your product. In this way, reviews aren’t simply a nice-to-have option that will set you apart; they’re a necessity, especially since word-of-mouth marketing is the predominant way to spread the buzz about your merchandise.
7. Do I really need good copy if my site is well-designed and easy to navigate?
Absolutely. While a well-designed site is essential for bringing in traffic, good-quality copy is vital for keeping it there. A clear, high-res image can only say so much about any given product; the copy has to fill in the rest. You should have a catchy headline, a brief yet informative short description, a fleshed-out long description that summarizes the main points and a bulleted features list that outlines all the specs. Each product’s copy should tell a story, but it shouldn’t be the main star. Rather, good-quality copy should seamlessly blend with the product image so that, together, the two create a fully realized guide, with everything the visitor needs to know.