Have you ever felt attracted to a mannequin dressed up with the perfect set of clothes behind the store’s glass outside the street? If yes, that store successfully applied visual merchandising!
Brick-and-mortar stores have long charmed their shoppers by utilizing expert visual merchandising. However, visual merchandising is not just a strategy for physical stores. This strategy also can be and should be, applied to online retail.
Let’s dive deep with this strategy and see how it plays into online retail.
What is Visual Merchandising?
Visual Merchandising refers to the display of products for sale. However, these displays aren’t just thrown together to showcase what’s on sale. Instead, products are carefully displayed in a way that will pique the interest of shoppers; which ultimately pushes them to make a purchase.
It’s important to point out that visual merchandising is not just about making sure displays are visually pleasing. It’s also about the overall customer experience.
Elements of visual merchandising may include:
- Social proof: Examples include shopping bags that are branded. This can clue other shoppers into what (and where) others are shopping.
- Commitment and consistency: This can look like loyalty programs or their own credit cards.
- Authority: This is the reason why brands partner with influencers and celebrities. They want you to think they hang out with the authorities on particular topics.
- Liking: This is where friendly salespeople become essential; as well as why more subtle tones matter. You need to like the space you are in and the people you are with.
Ultimately, visual merchandising turns a retail space into the most productive salesperson. It is not limited to only wall displays but encompasses many elements designed to grab your customers’ attention and drive sales.
Visual Merchandising in the eCommerce World
Visual merchandising has long lived in the domain of brick-and-mortar stores. Nonetheless, as online shopping continues to grow, the importance of online visual merchandising does as well.
So what is online visual merchandising?
Similar to the strategy for brick-and-mortar stores, online visual merchandising refers to the strategic display of products on the website in such a way that attracts customers and makes them engage with our website.
As previously mentioned, visual merchandising is a crucial element in building your customer’s experience with your online store. Today, online retailers should have a rich and robust set of tools such as; updated on-site search tools, product recommendation plugins, product videos, reviews and ratings, and more.
Importance of Online Visual Merchandising
Just like how visual merchandising in brick-and-mortar stores has major benefits, there are also major benefits for eCommerce retailers. How you use visual merchandising online touches on all aspects of your brand.
Online product displays have become quite the art form. The way of displaying products does not stop at making the website look neat and accessible. Instead, it’s also important that your site visitors are converting into shoppers. This means you may want to have a CTA (call to action) strategically placed, or reminders for abandoned shopping carts. Nonetheless, online merchandising can influence buying habits of your customers.
In addition, effective visual merchandising can increase and improve many metrics, such as:
- Engagement and time on site
- Site navigation and ease of use
- Average order value (AOV)
- Sale Conversions
6 Tips For Creating an Experience with Packaging Design
Online retailers can tailor shopping experiences to all different types of users who are on their websites. With that being said, let’s take a look at some tried-and-tested tactics for successful online visual merchandising and see how they can be integrated and supercharged.
1. Don’t Just Be Mobile Responsive, Be Mobile Optimized
As an online retailer, you may have experienced the event where half of your traffic comes from mobile devices, but the majority of your sales come from desktops.
Data from recent research shows that an average of 3.35% of shoppers checked out while shopping from desktop computers; while only 1.18% of smartphone shoppers completed their checkout. This is due to the fact that while 40% of consumers don’t feel comfortable shopping online using their desktop, a huge 80% prefer not to shop with their mobile devices.
It’s worth double-checking your online presence on both desktop and mobile devices. Ultimately, this allows you to figure out and fix any issues on your website.
2. Control the Narrative With Your Homepage and Landing Pages
Think of your homepage as your storefront, or even the window display of a brick-and-mortar store. This is one of the first things potential customers see; whether they are on the streets or online shopping.
First impressions are made within the first 2-3 seconds. Actually, it’s been found that 75% of online shoppers make judgments about online retailers’ credibility based on their web design. Moreover, the homepage is usually the first visual merchandising touchpoint. If you have new visitors land on your site and don’t like what they see, they will most likely back out and take their business elsewhere.
One way to capture the attention of your visitors is by adding your brand’s story to the homepage. Additionally, featuring high-resolution images can help as well. Retailers can also grab the attention of shoppers by displaying product collections that dynamically update.
3. Provide Product Recommendations
One advantage that web merchandising has over physical stores is the ability to tailor the shopping experience to each customer. Online visual merchandising has a lot to do with creating a shopping experience in such a way that your customers will buy from you. It is also about helping shoppers discover new products that they’d like without putting in too much effort.
Pro tip: retailers tend to use the visual merchandising technique known as ‘bundling’ to promote products that work together as a set. This may be done by showing complete outfits or displaying complementary products next to each other. Your shoppers will then see how pieces fit together and will be inspired to buy more.
4. Ensure Website Navigation is Seamless
If a customer grows frustrated with the way your website is laid out, it’s likely they’ll click off your website within the first ten seconds. Not only does this mean a loss of a potential customer but it increases your bounce rate.
To prevent this from happening, you can ensure seamless navigation and search by:
- Optimizing search capabilities. This is where your SKUs need to be organized. By doing so, you allow shoppers to use a search filter to refine product listings by size, color, price, or brand, and try personalizing results based on 3rd party affinity data.
- Implement autocomplete search. Optimizing the search bar to autocomplete is another great navigation boost. Use autocomplete to display matching keywords and images as the visitor types their entry. Another way to optimize your search results is
- Offer the option to search with a photo. Not all of your shoppers will be familiar with the right keywords to search. So, this can create friction. Having the ability to visual search ensures customers can successfully find the products that they want.
5. Optimize Your Site Layout
A website layout is a pattern that defines a web’s structure; you may know this as user experience design.
Its primary role is to structure all the information presented on a site so it provides a clear path for user navigation. When designing your website layout it’s important to put the most essential elements front and center. Ultimately, a good site layout will keep shoppers on your site because it makes essential information easily accessible; as well as intuitive to find.
6. Highlight user-generated content
The value of user-generated content is that it taps into a phenomenon called social proof.
This describes the way humans respond to your products. People want to avoid being burned by what they buy. So, to make sure they’re making the best decision, shoppers will look at reviews to make sure that others were happy with their purchase.
That being said, make sure you leverage your social proof with a star rating system, testimonials, or highlighting actual customers’ content with your products. For example, by channeling content from your customers’ user-generated content on Instagram, you can highlight photos that are already generating social buzz.
Bringing your online visual merchandising to the next level is not difficult, it just takes strategy.
Furthermore, your strategy should cover all the basic elements that shoppers expect to find on your site. However, these elements should help differentiate you from the thousands of other similar online stores shoppers can go to.
Simply put, the end goal of site merchandising is increasing sales. By implementing a visual merchandising strategy properly, your online store can improve its customer experience. Ultimately, you will become more competitive in the digital marketplace.