A surge in online spending and smartphone penetration has paved the way for unprecedented eCommerce growth. The global eCommerce market is forecast to grow by $12.9 trillion during 2022-2027, accelerating at a CAGR of 27.15%.
As customers continue to value the convenience of online shopping, the competition for the best eCommerce visibility goes through the roof. Advertisement spendings skyrocket while promising little return, forcing businesses to change how they approach online retail.
That serves as the premise for the rising focus on eCommerce visual merchandising. Such tactic has evolved beyond the confines of brick-and-mortar stores to become a powerful tool in online retailers’ arsenal.
In this article, we will explain eCommerce visual merchandising's meaning, why it is important, and how you can use it to your advantage as an online business owner.
eCommerce Visual Merchandising Definition
eCommerce visual merchandising is the practice of building an immersive online shopping experience, stimulating website engagement, and encouraging higher spending.
Traditionally, in-store visual merchandising engages customers’ senses physically. Elements such as product displays, store layouts, color schemes, and even smells are utilized to pique interest.
In the online world, customers cannot interact with the environment as in physical shops. Instead, their journeys might be guided by product imagery, website color schemes, product organization, and CTA elements. The goal of eCommerce visual merchandising is to employ said tools at their highest potential and navigate shoppers to the right products.
5 Key Elements of Effective eCommerce Visual Merchandising
Efficient online visual merchandising combines different elements of design aesthetics and UX optimization that follow the same basic principle as in-store visual merchandising - plus some personalization.
Here are the 5 core elements of eCommerce visual merchandising.
Engaging & Responsive Website Design
A whopping 73.1% of web designers cite non-responsive design as the top reason visitors leave a website. It’s hard to sell when customers bounce before the imagery can finish loading. Make sure the website is fast, responsive, and easy to navigate.
The website's homepage is a great place to start defining the store’s layout concept. Think of it as the window display of a physical store. It’s a great place to showcase new products, bestsellers, and sale items, as well as the message and the story of the brand.
The remaining pages should follow a coherent layout that maximizes conversion. Determining which parts receive the most traffic will give you an idea of where to optimize based on who’s looking at it. Popularly, online stores will personalize product categories according to where the customers are in their journey.
Intuitive search & filter features are also recommended. They help shoppers narrow any broad search queries down to manageable options, thus, shortening the purchasing process.
Although there are no limits to how e-commerce retailers design their sites, a website can’t physically engage customers’ senses. Therefore, colors and fonts are critical to creating memorable first impressions. Clever and consistent color schemes will provoke certain emotions whilst making the brand up to 80% more familiar.
Product Grouping & Organization
How you categorize and display your products are the pillars of effective eCommerce visual merchandising. By creating and promoting a set of items that fit together, businesses can maximize sales, a proven strategy in both online and offline merchandising.
Two of the most widely used methods are bundling and complementary product recommendations.
- Product Bundling: Encourage consumers to buy additional items as a package or bundle, often at a discounted price, compared to purchasing each item separately. For example, visual cues of people wearing a set of outfits and accessories subtly prompt shoppers to consider ordering the complete look.
- Complementary product recommendations: Also known as ‘frequently bought together’ recommendations, they can be used across product pages and within the cart to encourage customers to up the size of the basket. It’s achieved by recommending complementary products typically purchased with the product currently being viewed.
To match customers with potential products they are sure to love, online retailers also personalize the recommendations. They leverage data on customers’ browsing behavior and purchase history to present personally-selected products. The idea is to provide shoppers with the shortest possible routes to items that sell.
Powerful filters and search tools, such as Boost AI Search & Discovery for Shopify, will also benefit businesses. They offer clear and easy navigation through product assortment, allowing online shoppers to pinpoint their desired items with speed and precision. Subcategories and product attributes can be used to streamline the process.
Product Imagery & Video
Online shoppers cannot feel the products physically. Therefore, detailed descriptions and clear images from different angles are crucial to help customers know what they’re buying. Sequence images and descriptions in a way that engages viewers and guides them through the product presentation effectively.
Fashion retailers are now experimenting with virtual fitting rooms. However, the technology is still a few steps away. In the meantime, captivating product visuals and accurate descriptions are more advisable.
Product imagery should be crisp and high resolution, with interactive features like zoom and 360-degree views. Include videos that showcase products from all angles, complemented by highlights of unique details and desirable features.
Up to 79% of users will bounce if they fail to find something on the website. That’s why online visual merchandising also focuses on making the digital store user-friendly, intuitive, and easy to navigate. Easy search, smooth transitions between pages, fast loading speed, and mobile compatibility all contribute to customers’ satisfaction.
Well-optimized checkouts are highly effective as well. Almost 80% of online shoppers abandoned their carts and never completed their payments. To guarantee a higher return on your investment in eCommerce merchandising, streamline the checkout process with minimal distractions. Provide convenient payment options and popular payment methods.
Call-to-action Buttons & Persuasive Elements
CTA buttons and persuasive elements to eCommerce visual merchandising are like sellers to brick-and-mortar stores. They guide customers toward desired actions, such as purchasing, signing up for a newsletter, or engaging with your brand.
CTA buttons should be visually distinct, strategically placed, and supported by compelling copy. Tailor CTAs based on user behavior or preferences can increase conversion rates by up to 42%.
Other persuasive elements can address users' needs, build trust, and convey value. These include social proof such as customer reviews, ratings, and testimonials; trust signals such as trust badges, security icons, or payment logos; money-back guarantees or hassle-free returns to reduce perceived risk for customers.
Why is eCommerce Visual Merchandising Important?
It’s safe to say visual merchandising is so significant that it can make or break your online business. In today’s fiercely competitive eCommerce landscape, creating a unique shopping experience is crucial to stand out. Well-designed online visual merchandising strategy increases brand engagement and fosters loyalty while helping marketers achieve their business goals.
Powerful focal points, appealing product displays, intuitive layout design, and streamlined checkout allow you to build efficient businesses with a clear identity. eCommerce visual merchandising also allows a peek into customer behavioral trends. Such valuable data lets merchants personalize customers’ experiences, recommend the most relevant products, and increase conversion rates.
4 eCommerce Merchandising Techniques to Try
Implementing online visual merchandising is valuable for all e-commerce retailers. To prove that it's not as challenging as it might initially appear, here are 4 easy visual merchandising techniques for your online stores.
Start with a Strong Impression
When customers walk by physical storefronts, they are often engaged by the window display. It gives passers-by an idea of the products sold inside and the general atmosphere, with just a visual snapshot. That first impression should be enticing enough to trigger curiosity, tempting shoppers to find out more.
Though online stores don’t have a window, they do have a homepage. Online retailers have seconds to leave an impression. Thus, only focus on what’s important. Make the first impressions count. Take the opportunity to communicate your brand’s story concisely.
From the homepage, customers should know your brands, what kind of products you sell, and the value you offer. A homepage has to captivate visitors and leads to landing pages that convert. Executed effectively, this technique can help build strong customer loyalty instead of product loyalty. Remember, it’s the story and emotion that sells.
Utilize User-generated Content and Social Proof
Online shoppers will do their research before making a purchase. They will gather information about the product by checking users' experiences, reviews, and ratings. These build credibility and reassure potential customers. It is essential as users don’t get the chance to interact with a product physically, and that extra bit of assurance from the community will help make them a final decision.
Other forms of social proof, including likes, purchases, or the number of people viewing an item displayed on a product listing or detail page, can highlight demand and drive urgency. Trust badges from third-party sites that prove a store’s legitimacy are always recommended.
Optimize In-store Signage and Search
Like brick-and-mortar stores, online shoppers need signage to find a specific item quickly. Online retailers should consider how customers discover their product offerings to optimize navigation and maintain engagement.
A tiered menu system is advisable if the store holds a large inventory. Allow customers to sift through the products from the top and through their chosen subcategories. Experiment with different menus and A/B test them to ensure the best possible experience. The goal is to help shoppers get where they want to go in the fewest possible clicks.
Don’t forget to optimize your search functionality. 69% of visitors head to the search bar once they visit a site instead of browsing category pages, but 80% exit because of poor search experience. Stop losing potential customers by implementing a good search bar that matches queries with relevant results.
If you’re using Shopify, try Boost AI Search & Discovery. Experience a complete upgrade to your Shopify search functionality. Our cutting-edge AI uses natural language processing (NLP) to deliver accurate results consistently. It also comes with facet extraction, typo tolerance, and synonym detection. The app features other functionalities such as visual merchandising, recommendations, and advanced filters - a complete tool kit for Shopify retailers.
Upgrade Product Imagery
Visual elements play a vital role in eCommerce merchandising. As shoppers can’t touch and feel the products nor communicate with your sales staff, stunning product visuals are all you have.
Start with a captivating, high-quality hero image showcasing the product in its best light. This image should grab the viewer's attention and create a positive first impression. Pictures with interactive features like zoom and 360-degree views are preferred. When possible, include videos to allow customers to explore products in detail.
However, be mindful of the size of the imagery. Large & uncompressed files take longer to load, which may steer customers with slower connections away.
It's important to emphasize that this doesn't imply neglecting a textual description. Ideally, they should be strategically integrated to complement each other.
eCommerce Visual Merchandising is Worth a Try!
Embracing visual merchandising in eCommerce is a strategic imperative in today’s settings. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, the significance of captivating and immersive online shopping experiences cannot be overstated. Businesses can effectively replicate the allure of physical stores in the virtual realm by strategically curating product displays, optimizing layout designs, and harmonizing aesthetics.
eCommerce visual merchandising propels customer engagement, conversion rates, and brand loyalty. It relays an opportunity for businesses to leave an indelible impression on customers and redefine the boundaries of virtual retail.
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