April 12th, 2023 | 6 MIN READ

What is Product Merchandising? Examples, Types & More

Written by Elastic Path Team

what_is_product_merchandising

Imagine that you sell kitchen appliances and a consumer is shopping for a refrigerator.

You have the perfect model in stock. The color, style, and features are exactly what this buyer wants, and the price is square in the middle of their budget. But commerce today is complex. This consumer is shopping for refrigerators in-store and online – there are thousands and thousands of options available at their fingerprints.

How will your fridge stand out from the competition and emerge as the only refrigerator this customer desires?

Product merchandising.

Learn about product merchandising and its evolution in the digital era. Then, explore examples of product merchandising that drive sales, boost revenues, and make for strong, sustainable commerce businesses.

What is Product Merchandising?

Product merchandising is the practice of displaying, marketing and selling products to retail consumers.
 


As Julie Mall, Vice President of Solutions Engineering at Elastic Path, recently said in an interview with PYMNTS.com about product merchandising:

“The challenge is really how to meet the customer where they are with the products they want in that moment.”

In other words, product merchandising is about putting in front of consumers product displays that spur the desire to make a purchase. With effective product merchandising, you can offer a smooth, seamless shopping experience to consumers. Your customers will see the products that interest them displayed in a creative, user-friendly way. They’ll be more likely to find exactly what they’re looking for and more likely to complete a purchase.

Product Merchandising Types: Traditional vs. Today

Product merchandising plays a critical role in the path to purchase. In the past, brands could focus solely on product merchandising in a retail, in-store environment. There, product merchandising refers to displaying for-sale products in a creative, compelling fashion that entices customers to purchase those items and others.

With the explosion of online shopping and social media, that singular approach is gone.

Remember, product merchandising means displaying a product where consumers are searching and when they want it. So, brands must emulate the in-person shopping experience online. That means having digital tools to answer customer questions, allow for filtered searches, and complete purchases.

Product merchandising strategies for digital commerce include:

  • Curated, detailed digital commerce pages, complete with easy navigation and filtered searches
  • Personalized offers based on a customer’s buying habits and website activity
  • Answering customer questions in real-time, without them leaving your website
  • Fast and easy checkout so that buyers don’t abandon their cart
  • Consistent, omnichannel shopping experience whether through the website, mobile, or in-store
  • Giving customers the opportunity to pay now, later, or in installments

By adapting product merchandising best practices for modern digital commerce, brands meet customers where they are and boost sales.

Why Is Product Merchandising Important?

Product merchandising is important because if you don’t do it well, your competition will earn the trust, affection, and business of your customers.

Customer expectations are only rising. Having the world at their fingertips means that if you don’t offer consumers a positive, helpful experience both in-store and online, they’ll take their business elsewhere.

Product merchandising is about the present and future of shopping, which means that it helps with clearing inventory and upselling but also with improving your commerce operation’s efficiency and cementing brand loyalty.

Product Merchandising Examples

Now that the best elements of the brick-and-mortar store are being incorporated and enhanced online, you can see strong examples of product marketing any time you shop online. Here are three high-performing, omnichannel product merchandising examples used by leading brands.

Pottery Barn: Inspired Layouts and Live Chat

Home retailer Pottery Barn is known for creating compelling in-store sets to inspire consumers and allow them to touch and observe qualities such as bedding textures, glassware quality, thread count, and measurements. They’ve created a strong product merchandising experience by emulating this experience for digital.

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product_merchandising_room

Source: Pottery Barn

Notice that in these two interior pages, there are carefully curated specific room designs. These designs are titled “Room Inspiration,” suggesting that while some of Pottery Barn’s core customers may know exactly what products they want, others are open to a more guided commerce experience.

Within the “Room Inspiration” pages are icons and information about specific products. Sliding from living room to bedroom to dining room to kitchen gives shoppers a new set of products, and each set of grouped products features a breakdown of the contents, complete with specs, pricing, and SKU information/add to cart.

Notice also the chat feature in the bottom right corner. This feature provides real-time support for shoppers as they browse. This way, customers can ask about products or payments or anything else as they would in a store. Live chat on a website is like having a helpful sales associate in a store: it helps avoid cart abandonment, reduce bounce rate, and improve customer satisfaction.

Ready to Start Your Unique Product Experience Management (PXM)?

Elastic Path PXM combines re-imagined Commerce PIM, Product Merchandising, and Catalog Composer capabilities into one central place for merchandisers to create the complex product experiences that drive conversions and loyalty.

Go to Elastic Path PXM

Target: #SocialProof

In a store, your sales associates might point to popular, well-regarded items and tell customers just how much other people enjoy the products.

Product merchandising online involves social proof, too, but it can come directly from the other customers themselves on social media.

Retail giant Target’s #TargetStyle is an example of how platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok can be incorporated into an omnichannel product merchandising experience.

After purchase, Target encourages shoppers to share what they’ve purchased and how they’re using it. 

product_merchandising_target

Source: target.com

Beyond engaging consumers even after their purchase is complete, the #TargetStyle campaign makes it more likely that other consumers see Target’s products. Ever have somebody tell you over coffee, dinner, or work about how great a store or product is? That’s the type of product merchandising Target is accomplishing. People in consumers’ networks are voicing an endorsement of Target’s product and brand.

Deuter: The 360 Degree Experience

As technology advances in online merchandising, we’re seeing more virtual and augmented reality product merchandising functions that help to overcome the lack of in-person sight and touch that accompanies online shopping. Take for instance the 360 degree view function now widely used across online retail in this example from Deuter.

product_merchandising_backpack

Source: deuter.com

A 360 degree view allows customers to see the backpack from different angles and vantage points, as they would in a store. And in this case, the 360 degree view is augmented with clear demonstrations of where a person wearing the backpack could store their laptop, keys, water bottle, wallet, and other items.

Products aren’t two dimensional, so Deuter’s 360 degree digital commerce product merchandising capability reflects how the backpack looks in action and helps consumers make an informed purchasing decision.

A Reimagined, Recalibrated Approach to Product Merchandising

In today’s commerce landscape, shoppers are more sophisticated and tech-savvy and have less time to shop than ever before. They demand easy navigation and filtered searches to find exactly what they need in seconds. They expect personalized offers based on their buying habits. They take for granted fast page loads and simplified checkout. They prefer options for payment that fit their lifestyle and budget… and if these desires and expectations aren’t met, they’ll take their business elsewhere. 
It all means that to succeed in today’s digital commerce environment, every moment consumers spend with your brand must elevate the products they want. It means you need to take product merchandising to the next level with Elastic Path Product Experience Manager (PXM)

EP PXM combines commerce PIM, product merchandising, and Catalog Composer capabilities in a single product. Learn about how EP PXM offers top-tier, first-and-best-of-its-kind merchandising support. Then, connect with an Elastic Path expert to discuss how EP PXM can turbocharge your commerce success.

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