February 3rd, 2022 | 5 MIN READ

Merchandising for Today's Omnichannel Shopper

Written by author_profile_images Rachel DelGrande

Rachel DelGrande is the Director of Customer Success at Elastic Path where she leads the global customer success team. She has a deep background in the retail industry with expertise in  eCommerce  buying, merchandising, and omnichannel store operations.  

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In today’s digital world, merchandisers must take full advantage of the omnichannel space to influence and guide the shopper through the decision-making process. It’s all about the right place, the right price, and the right product to optimize the sale. When you consider there is an 80% increase in revenue  for businesses that focus on improving customer experience, it’s critical to leverage all the tools in the box to guide the experience.

Enter online eCommerce merchandising; what was once solely focused on end caps and unique displays, audio/visual, in-store demos, and amply stocked shelves has now transitioned to the digital world. How do we create the same engaging content online to drive the customer through the buying process? Today’s shopper is now demanding an omnichannel experience; so the journey must seamlessly integrate a mix of the in-store and online components.

Eye-Catching Homepages to Mirror the Buyer

Think of your favorite retailers and what you like about their online presence; do they provide quality imagery, engaging color schemes, great copy, or drive offers front and center to the homepage so you don’t miss the deal? Does this same look and feel weave through their in-store and social media experience? In the case of luxury jeweler, Teilor, they sought to provide what is traditionally an in-store buying experience to their growing population of online shoppers.

Through original, curated content they made the online experience a reality. High-quality, detailed imagery of their precious gemstones and diamonds, along with photography to match and attract their target buying persona is set off by product copy; not a standard description full of dimensions and care instructions, but something that reads more like prose to effectively convey the very personal investment of jewelry purchases.
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Video Clienteling

This tactic is used to bring a more personalized experience to buyers either one-on-one by appointment or through live streaming. In the case of Teilor as mentioned above, video clienteling gives the opportunity for customers to see the product and ask questions in real time. With such a personal and significant investment like jewelry, it’s well worth the time to ensure the customer is completely satisfied and more likely to return for repeat purchases. While this tactic is not new to in-person retail experiences, video capabilities and live streaming make it possible in today’s commerce.

Advertising Banners

Use banners in a variety of ways to call out promotions, sales, best-sellers, etc. Best practices when using banners: keep it simple. While the ad should stand out to attract the shopper’s line of sight, don’t make it so large that it’s distracting or worse yet takes too long to load. Attract not detract. Always keep banners towards the top of the page, and make sure your related content is nearby. Is it a Back-to-School supplies sale? Place the banner close to your product category navigation where the inventory normally lives. The shopper can either click on the banner ad or navigate over to that category link for the same results.
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Social Proof

Word of mouth is fire. Shoppers rely heavily on the experiences of others from product performance to customer service. Customer reviews are a key component to this tactic. Invite your customers to review and post those reviews by their corresponding product. If the response is less than favorable, reach out personally and find out why. (Poor quality, shipping issues, incorrect size, product details not true to imagery). The frontrunner of digital notepads, reMarkable uses social proof by asking customers to share their experiences with the product through a common hashtag. This brings authenticity to the brand with assets that can be used throughout future marketing campaigns. A two-fold win: your customers engage with your product and feel heard, and you have relatable content to support the brand that is best case scenario repurpose-ready.
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Personalized Offers/Sales Events

You don’t need a federal holiday or a gifting season to create a viable offer. While the most popular sales seasons are winter holidays, consider creating offers based on less popular holidays or even an everyday offer. Valentines’ Day, Easter, or President’s Day sale events, or a Treat Yourself-type event can be created with special pricing designed for your loyalty customers. If the inventory can support the event, be creative with your offerings and let your customers shopping behaviors inform them. Know your customers are tea lovers? Create a special event to commemorate National Hot Tea Day. (Yes, it’s a real day, and it’s January 12).

 

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Bundling/Cross-Sell/Upsell

Bundling is a common merchandising tactic with many variations. You may use common variations to support a new product launch in the health and beauty category by bundling a more well-known brand with a new to market product. You may also see opportunities with sporting goods to bundle equipment and upsell/cross-sell accessories. When merchandising next gen skis or snowboards, a bundle variation may include an equipment upgrade for the next skill level plus accessories like bindings or boots. If your margins can support bundling it’s a proven tactic for value creation.

Visual Hierarchy

Visual hierarchy is well covered territory when it comes to in-store merchandising sets, but similar rules apply to your online store or app. When viewing online content, the natural sight line is from the top down, left to right. When refreshing product information you may also consider placing the content you want your customers to engage with the most to be placed in the direct line of sight. As mentioned above, banners should be towards the top of the page with the related content nearby.

Similarly, consider elements that guide the customer down the page; this may include a chat bot feature as the customer scrolls that is not intrusive or distracting. A proven tactic to reduce cart abandonment rates is to keep the cart icon in direct line of sight throughout the session.

See what’s new from Elastic Path in product variation support to power up your merchandising strategy.

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