Like retail merchandising, eCommerce merchandising or online merchandising is a way to get online visitors to engage with your Shopify store.
In Shopify merchandising, it is all about how you list your products and design your website's product collection layout. You can do it with columns, product filters, sorting, and personalization to keep visitors hooked up.
How can you bring face-to-face experiences from traditional stores to your Shopify store? How to maximize conversions and sales via eCommerce merchandising? Especially for online apparel brands?
In this article, let us walk you through a comprehensive guide on optimizing online merchandising. And, let's look into the best fashion merchandising strategies for your Shopify clothing store.
Back to basics:
Dig into the basics of eCommerce merchandising (also known as online merchandising):
What are visual merchandising elements in an eCommerce fashion store?
First, let's get a clear understanding of the most critical visual merchandising elements.
Visual merchandising is a marketing practice that takes advantage of strategic floor plans, window displays, color, lighting, etc. to attract customer attention. What are these elements equal to when applied online?
Floor plan or store layout = Website layout
In visual merchandising, floor plans are the strategic use of space that maps out store layouts. These layouts guide your customers on a certain route and influence their experience (and purchase decision).
Fashion retail shops usually use an angular floor plan. This reduces the display area and mostly consists of curves and angles to give off an aesthetically pleasing display while effectively highlighting popular clothing lines.
Angular floor plan example (Source: fitsmallbusiness)
→ It is the same in an online Shopify clothing store. Your website layout should focus on driving more engagement from online visitors and maximizing sale potential.
A good online fashion store should focus on simple navigation and a clean layout (big text, big images, more space) to bring out the products and branding style.
Window display = Website homepage
Fashion - online or offline - is all about appearances.
In brick-and-mortar retail stores, window display - the exterior facing window area - is one of the first things people see from the street. It is a powerful element to boost your store's appearance. It also helps merchandise your products and promotions and enhances your brand image.
In the online world, the window display equals the homepage of your website. Most of the time, the first thing an online visitor sees when landing on your store is the homepage. A fashion store's homepage should be visually appealing to showcase the highlight products, promotions, or brand characteristics.
In-store signage = Site navigation & product filters
In physical clothing stores, products are organized in categories for customers to navigate through. These categories are classified and recognized by different signages. When turning online, shoppers can browse through your site navigation and product filters.
But, it is much more difficult to showcase your products on a website because you can’t list everything out like in a physical store. So, pay attention to optimizing your site navigation as well as product filters to inspire online visitors’ next action.
Source: Business Insider
Product display = Product images and videos
Product display in a physical clothing store is quite obvious. And customers can touch, smell, and observe directly your products, then pick the one they like. Easy peasy!
In a 2-dimension store, your customers can only look at all your products, on a screen. So, it's not only important for you to present your product information in detail. You have to invest in your product's visuals including both images and videos. Remember, fashion is all about appearances.
Besides, you can use modern technologies to personalize the shopping experience. For example, providing an online fitting room or 3D product showcase with the help of VR or AR. Let’s dive into this on another occasion though.
Top 5 fashion eCommerce trends to watch out for in your fashion merchandising strategies
Before jumping into how to optimize online merchandising for your Shopify clothing store, let us remind you of these 5 trends in fashion eCommerce that affect the strategies we discuss later on.
Fashion eCommerce trend #1: Fashion buyers prefer mobile shopping
Over 72% of eCommerce sales come from mobile commerce (or m-commerce) thanks to the convenience of mobile shopping as well as mobile payment methods. In the fashion world, your customers love window shopping, looking for on-trend pieces, and raving for new looks.
This information is easily accessed and received via customers’ mobile devices. Plus, mobile shopping is growing partly because of the new generation of tech-savvy shoppers.
Behavior research also showed that fashion shopaholics are more likely to purchase via desktop when their purchase value is high (i.e expensive or premium items).
Statistics by SaleCycle
Fashion eCommerce trend #2: Sizing diversity and the trend of plus size
With the trend of body positivity in fashion advertisements, there is an ongoing improved public perception of plus-size models and brands, especially in high fashion. It also contributes to the rise in plus size demand in the fashion industry.
Plus size is considered to be size 18 (2XL) and over. The normal sizing is from XS to XL. In many fashion brands, there are only size S, M, and L.
Customers now demand clothing sizes that fit their body, no matter how thin or big their body is. In the plus size category, consumers want more fashionable garments that are ready-made in larger sizes.
Plus size is the new average. According to research, plus size clothing market is projected to reach nearly $700,000 million by 2027, registering a CAGR of 5.9% from 2021 to 2027.
Fashion should not be a frustrating experience for one's self-esteem. So, widening your clothing size options is a smart way to win more customers.
Source: Allied Market Research
Fashion eCommerce trend #3: Personalization and customizable products
Fashion's focus is self-expression. No wonder why fashion shoppers actively seek and prefer personalized in-store experiences.
An online survey in 2017 showed that 80% of online shoppers are more likely to purchase from businesses that offer personalized experiences.
Personalization makes shoppers feel less mind-boggling entering an online clothing store. At the same time, it keeps customers “connected” to the brand.
Besides, personalization in the fashion industry also includes customizable items. Not only in fashion, people always want to express their characters and colors via the things they use.
Let customers design their items help them own the design, wear their attitude, and feel proud of who they are. That's why customizable apparel has been on the rise these years.
Fashion eCommerce trend #4: Social shopping and live streaming
In 2024, revenue from live online shopping will reach $35 billion. In fashion eCommerce, live shopping or livestream shopping - a type of digitally broadcasting products via live video - are getting crazy attention, especially among Gen Z and millennial consumers.
According to McKinsey, apparel and fashion are top leading categories in live streaming and live shopping
Reports also reveal that 66% of millennials have made a purchase on a social media platform and would consider doing so again.
To grow your online fashion business, don't forget to invest in great creatives for social channels. Especially, spend more effort on Tiktok - the winning social media platform in 2022.
Fashion eCommerce trend #5: Multi-payment options
The average conversion rate for fashion websites is based on the number of payment methods offered at checkout in the United States in 2021 by Statista. Having 4 payment options on averagely drives a higher conversion rate
According to FisGlobal, “by 2024, digital wallets, credit and debit cards will account for 84.5% of e-commerce spend”. “Buy now, pay later” is still an ongoing trend, “expecting to double in use from 2.1% in 2020 to 4.2% by 2024”.
Given clothing shopping comprises the majority of daily shopping, it’s understandable that the “buy now, pay later” model is more popular in this sector.
A seamless and frictionless payment experience will be a crucial factor that affects your online clothing store's revenue. Be sure to guarantee the same level of comfort during payment in-app, on the web, or mobile gateways.
How to optimize Shopify merchandising for online fashion stores
Shopify merchandising tip #1: Optimize for mobile-first experiences
Be selective in choosing what to display on mobile
What does it mean by optimizing the mobile-first experience with online merchandising? If in a physical clothing store, consumers can see everything at once. But on a mobile view, you have a limited space to show everything.
You need to focus on showcasing key products “above the fold” right from your homepage to collection pages. That’s the reason why big, bold product images and slick videos of top quality are the essentials of any fashion eCommerce website.
You can present your key product’s photography in a hero banner or an image slider on top when visitors first land on your site. The below section should be your new arrivals. And the last section is the bestsellers.
Online merchandising on mobile devices doesn’t only involve picking the highlight products to showcase. It also involves choosing what specific details to feature on top for visitors to quickly glance at. You can’t display all the product details you have like on a desktop view.
Take your time in designing specific product filters so mobile users won’t have to scroll down to view all filter options. Pay attention to the most important product details that most influence purchase decisions. They are details such as size, price range, materials, shipping, etc.
A neat mobile product filter on Camilla
Use analytics to sort out exactly what filter options and product details are most important to your customers. Boost Analytics feature can leverage your Shopify product filter with insights into top-performing filters, top searches, and more.
Explore Boost Analytics at:
Focus on your brand uniformity
Make sure your brand look and feel are consistent on mobile and all other channels. Good mobile merchandising needs to pay attention to the brand's identity. It includes your logo, style, color, and brand characteristics.
Keep everything simple, but on point with your brand’s impression.
Shopify merchandising tip #2: Optimize product search and product filters for online merchandising
Visual merchandising in a physical store requires you to place high-marginal or trendy products strategically for shoppers to notice. It is the same in Shopify merchandising.
First, find out your best-performed pages and/or collections in your online fashion store with the help of Google Analytics. These pages should be the ones that have the highest traffic and/or convert the most. Or, similarly, you can pick out the top products you want to push promotions for.
Next, refine site navigation and product search to help users quickly access these top pages. You can set up merchandising rules to always display this product in the search suggestion box or the search result page.
If the top performing page is a collection page, you can prioritize it to both search box suggestions or product filter tree. Put top product and category pages where potential customers expect to find them!
You can easily set up merchandising for top products, collections, or pages with the smart Merchandising feature in Product Filter and Search by Boost
Find out more on Boost’s merchandising tool
After all, the purpose of online merchandising is to help shoppers find what they want, quickly. Hence, your product search bar needs to be easy to find. Plus, it has to be powerful in terms of performing product searches (yes, we'll be talking about predictive search).
Optimize the predictive search for online merchandising
Like all other search logics, the predictive search GUIDES customers to navigate in the most effective way on your online store. This is the same as the purpose of online merchandising.
Besides suggesting relevant keywords, you can suggest product recommendations in the predictive search. And with the help of synonyms, typo tolerance, and fuzzy search, you can also correct misspellings or omitted characters made by visitors. This helps enhance the search experience as well as boost conversion rates.
Billionaire Boy Club did a great job in suggesting the relevant keywords AND collections AND relevant discounted items
GUESS uses Product Filters and Search by Boost to provide recommended collections, promotional products, and related pages when you enter a keyword in the search bar
Where should you optimize Shopify merchandising in your online fashion store?
Overall, the essential elements in Shopify merchandising are:
- Collection pages
- Product pages with description
- Search result page
- Search Box
- Product Photos & Media
So, where should be the main focus of your fashion merchandising strategies? All is good but if you ask for the most important things to consider, it should be:
- Product page: besides the homepage, this is where you can wow your visitors with all the beautiful branded photoshoots of your item.
- Collection page: in a category or Shopify collection page, it's best to prepare a prime online merchandising space. Plus, the ease of product browsing through collection pages is mainly contributed by effective product filters.
You’ll need a detailed product filter tree with valuable segments. Consider adding a price range, availability, latest to oldest, product type, size, product options, special features, etc. on the left side and/or a horizontal filter.
Let users quickly add/remove product attributes as well as sort products by their preferences.
- Search box: as explained above, go for autocomplete search, make it fast and offer a quick view right in your search box suggestion
- Search result page: make the No results found page work for you. You can suggest the bestsellers, ongoing deals, related products, or the most trendy items instead of whooing visitors away with the mood-killing "Nothing's here" message.
Calvin Klein the US guides shoppers to Trending items on its No Results Found page
Win Shopify online merchandising game for your clothing stores with Product Filter and Search by Boost:
- Promote complimentary products in different locations: search box, search result page, collection page…
- Flexible in setting merchandising rules: by vendors, product details such as colors, materials, keywords, tags, inventory statuses…
- Flexible in selecting a time range and priority ranking for your merchandising
Shopify merchandising tip #3: Provide personalization
Simply put, in fashion eCommerce, you nail personalization in online merchandising by sticking to customers’ demands and curating your product discoverability accordingly.
Personalization in product options
Don’t go for any product options or details when you consider optimizing for personalization.
Understand what fashion features shopaholics care about most. And then, display these features in a way that your site visitors don’t have to work to find them. The must-have details you should include in your filter options for customers to browse fashion items are:
- Price range
And to leverage customers’ personal preferences:
- Brand (if you’re wholesaling many different brands)
- Purpose (i.e types of activities to wear your items)
- Product type (jacket, dress, swimsuit, etc.)
- Sales (shopaholics are sales-raving fans)
YOOX with diverse filter options neatly grouped in collapsible dropdowns
Personalization in product recommendations
Your clothing brand will be more memorable with a comfortable and personalized shopping experience for shopaholics. Don’t forget to use product recommendations to guide shoppers with complimentary items or similar products.
You can optimize product recommendations by:
- Placement: prioritize most-converted items (your bestsellers) on the homepage. Place related items on the product page based on visitor’s browsing history, or show top-picked items by other customers on the search page
- Segmentation: display products based on the specific geolocation of your visitors. Create a source dedicated landing page for different channels where visitors come from (email, social media, Adwords, etc.), or alter content for returning visitors
- Types: give a better impression to your Shopify store visitors with types of items/collections that are tailored to them.
Providing a “Complete the look” section to cross sales other related items, plus enhance your brand identity (Source: YOOX)
Personalization in payment methods
Your payment option availability can make or break a shopper's purchase decision. The traditional payment method will ask shoppers to pay fully at the moment. But, with the Buy now Pay later (BNPL) trend, you can sell more because you can "sell" a decision first while shoppers are still unsure of their choice.
Extend your online payment methods to optimize sales (Source: Adidas)
Besides the BNPL option, you should also offer a guest checkout option as shoppers want a less tedious checkout process. Be brave in getting rid of the process of creating an account to process payments.
Shopify merchandising tip #4: Stay on top of social trends
Customers' shopping behavior has shifted to social media. 48% of Americans aged 18-34 made purchases through social media.
Along with the rise of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and especially, Tiktok, social media KOLs or influencers have been one of the most trusted sources that affect the new generation's purchase behavior.
Some of the best ways to incorporate social commerce into your fashion brand are:
- Booking Youtube video reviewers
- Collaborating with Instagram influencers
- Joining partnerships with Tiktok creative content creators
Did you know that in 2022, #TiktokMadeMeBuyIt has become an eCommerce phenomenon with 12.4 billion video views (April 2022)?
One of the greatest examples from Tiktok eCommerce is the success of “Scrunch Butt” leggings, a booty-sculpting yoga pants from SEASUM brand, originally promoted by Tiktok influencers and quickly spread like fire among young women.
It is so viral on Tiktok that people call it "Tiktok leggings” instead of the original brand name. These Tiktok leggings generated $2 million in revenue in just 2 months for the original brand.
The iconic Tiktok legging trend of 2022 (Source: Popbuzz)5 solid tips for social media merchandising:
- Focus on high-potential products or collections (see what SEASUM did above?) that are worth sharing, worth gossiping about
- Make it as personal as possible by defining different customer segments: location, age, gender, psychographic profile…
- Go for influencer marketing, especially on the trio platforms: Instagram, Youtube, and Tiktok
- Use the most appealing, rich, and creative visual content you can
- A/B testing, update, and repeat. For example, on Tiktok, it is advised to change your promotional visual content every week to keep your product and brand name fresh. Tiktok is known as a short-form video platform so the life circle of Tiktok videos is short.
Let your customers speak for your brand. Just like in other sectors, in fashion eCommerce, people look for reviews and trust other people's decisions on an item.
Thus, social proof is an important element in your online merchandising plan. Of course, putting product reviews on top or forefront will help your store improve its conversion rate.
Consider adding reviews and ratings of your items to your product filter tree. And, prioritize your search result for highly-rated items to be displayed first.
If you have user-generated content, especially from influencers, use them on your channel to boost your brand credibility. Also, showing the number of customers who bought a specific item or the number of items sold will also reinforce the shoppers’ buying decision.
Product reviews on a product page (Source: Everlane)
Shopify merchandising tip #5: Focus on visual presentation
Tell a story
What's the main theme of your Shopify fashion store? Incorporate a story (both visually and verbally) to let customers know in an instant what your brand is about. Let them know if your brand characters match their vibes, ideals, and their characteristics. The combination of storytelling and branded photography help set your brand apart from other retailers.
Anthropologie impresses visitors with a unique style of their clothing design plus color-block, retro-like photography
Be creative in presenting personalized product recommendations
Based on your niche and customer shopping habits, you can develop different scenarios to help customers easily picture in mind what they can do more to find the items or the look they'll love from your store.
Here are some suggestions to tailor customer’s preferences to what you can provide them:
- Recommended for you: a list of product recommendations based on customers’ preferences such as their previously viewed items, filter options, etc.
- Frequently bought together: complimentary products that can be worn or mixed with the chosen one.
- Trending products: top-selling products from your store (both seasonal and promotional ones)
- You may also like products that are visually similar to the chosen product or from the same category.
- Shop the look: styling recommendations for different occasions or activities, designed by your team or inspired by sponsored KOLs/influencers.
- Mix and match: letting customers choose their style
Present your branded identity with color and size
To keep your fashion brand identity consistent, choose a main color palette for your store. Consider the feelings you want to spark, the customers you are targeting, and the common colors used by other competitors.
And pay attention to merchandising your size range too. Customers will walk away from stores that promote limited size choices as this limits them to be beautiful with their body size.
Incorporate your brand’s motto or values via a size chart. And don’t hesitate to show that your fashion lines look good on any body type, including the plus size and the curvy ones, as Forever 21 does:
A menu & categories dedicated to plus-size customers
Final words: Keep your customers at the heart of your fashion merchandising strategies
The fashion industry is competitive but you can outdo competitors with smart Shopify merchandising strategies. Remember to keep your fans at the heart of everything. They shop for their personality and gut, after all.
We’ve guided you through a long “how” you can optimize online fashion merchandising. Now, it’s your turn to apply the “hows” and try the “dos”.
Talking about smart merchandising on Shopify, Product Filter and Search by Boost has a built-in merchandising tool for you! Your fashion merchandising strategies can be set up and boosted with just a few simple steps.