Want to Drive More Sales? Use These 4 Digital Merchandising Strategies
Customers have high expectations for online shopping. Not only do online retailers need to imitate the experience of in-store shopping, they also need to make online shopping worthwhile to their customers. For consumers, online shopping can be risky. Is the ordered product what they were expecting? How soon do they need the product? Will it ship in time?
There are many perks to online shopping, one of which is not having to leave the house to fulfill your hobby. And with the current state of the world, the ease and comfort of online shopping is a sweet spot for consumers.
Global e-commerce sales are expected to reach $4.2 trillion this year. If online retailers want to compete in this growing space, they need to revisit their digital merchandising strategies. And we don’t just mean offering free shipping; you need a well-executed digital strategy that will not only generate traffic and engagement, but convert potential customers into actual buyers. Here are a few tips to get started:
1. Gather — and leverage — the right data.
The secret to attracting customers? Learn about them. Find out what consumers are searching for, how long they visit your site, how they interact with your brand on social media, how their demographics break down, and more. But how do we collect this sort of information?
Use the data. Leverage Google Analytics and your e-commerce platform’s analytics and reporting app to track traffic, digital events/behaviors, and gain customer information. Along with the data above, these tools can also help you uncover:
- average order value (AOV);
- browsing habits across the internet; and
- search terms used to find your site.
Analyzing data about your customers (as well as those that didn’t complete a purchase) can help inform a digital merchandising strategy that aligns with your target customer’s needs.
2. Encourage impulse purchases.
Research suggests that impulse purchases account for as much as 40 percent of sales. While it’s simple for in-store shoppers to get pulled into endcap displays and must-haves on the way to the register, online stores have to work harder to incite the need for “nonessential” impulse purchases.
To help encourage these online shoppers to indulge in impulse purchases, consider doing the following:
- Create free shipping thresholds (think “Free Shipping over $99!”).
- Use overlays and digital stickers for customer favorites, best-sellers and top-rated products.
- Optimize your website for mobile visitors by making the purchasing process quick and easy.
- Provide promotional pricing and incentives such as member points for future discounts.
3. Optimize your search.
Want to know one of the most effective components of a digital merchandising strategy? Help online shoppers locate what they want or need in fewer clicks. In order to reduce clicks, you need to have a deep understanding of your customers’ search intentions and then have the technology and capability to build a shopping experience around their needs.
To get started optimizing your search, use product synonyms. No shopper wants to get a “no results found” message when trying to find a specific product or service. To ensure your shoppers don’t lack search results, group correlated keywords to accommodate regional and global searches. You can also position those best-selling, trending and top-rated products prominently for quick search and purchase. Lastly, try categorizing your products together to narrow the search while allowing shoppers to explore related products on your site.
4. Validate your product with proof.
To boost your digital merchandising strategy, allow potential customers to hear from those who have already purchased the product. According to Qualitrics, 93 percent of consumers turn to online reviews before making a purchase. Why? Because consumers trust outside sources to validate (or in some cases, not validate) the product.
It’s crucial to highlight product reviews and proof on your website. You can include a variety of third-party validation like social media reviews, logos of your customers, media mentions, and screenshots of ratings.
Do you want a digital merchandising strategy that grows your online customer base, boosts visibility, and ensures customers come back for more? These four tips will enhance the online shopping experience for your customers and help you drive more sales.
I’ll leave you with one final piece of advice: your customers create your revenue pipeline. Never stop listening to their needs and learning from them to craft a relevant and personalized online shopping experience.
Related story: The 5 Keys to Creating Connected Customer Experiences
Michael Shearer has been fortunate to work in the digital field for more than 20 years – with an expansive career in digital marketing, analytics, operations and more. He is currently the Senior Director, Digital Strategies & Innovation at Claravine. He holds advanced degrees in Information Systems and Management from Drake University and American Public University. Michael resides in Maryland with his wife and five children.