For so long, we have associated the concept of visual merchandising with the physical display in a brick-and-mortar establishment. However, with the onset of fast-paced digitalization due to COVID-19, businesses are applying tactics that are supposed to be offline for the online space.
A big difference between traditional and E-commerce merchandising is that it's difficult for the store owners and their employees to do the latter themselves. The lack of expert knowledge for cyberspace is the main hindrance.
Therefore, a lot of online tools have been developed to assist e-merchants to comfortably implement their visual merchandising strategies.
In this article, we will introduce the top 5 apps for Shopify users in terms of online visual merchandising, but first, let's have a look at the main components of E-commerce merchandising.
What does online visual merchandising consist of?
Similar to its offline counterpart, online visual merchandising aims to optimize the 5 Rs of merchandising;
- Right product: Bring customers what they are looking for and even evoke the purchasing ideas of products they are not aware of. Researchers agree that impulsive buying behaviors are more dominant in the online shopping environment since it “frees consumers from constraints such as inconvenient store locations, limited operating hours, and social pressure from staff and other consumers”.
- Right place: Product placement is the basic concept of merchandising. In the E-commerce space, it gets more complicated when it comes to product arrangement. You can't just tell your staff to move a category from the left-side corner to the right-side corner on a website. Product display in cyberspace may involve additional technical skills, expertise in UI/UX design and so on.
Online merchandising requires additional coding skills and extensive knowledge about online behavior. That's why e-merchants should consult merchandising tools like our recommendation down below.
- Right time: Timing is also an essential aspect of online merchandising. Usually, E-commerce stores will have thematic decorations during big holidays. Together with it, they will also have special offers, release limited editions or theme editions of their products.
- Right quantities: Out-of-stock products are a dead-end in the customer journey. Therefore, online stores should take product availability into careful consideration. One common practice is to hide out-of-stock items from the search result page, so visitors won't feel the site is cluttering.
- Right price: Pricing is the main factor that makes a sale or not. In the online shopping environment, the question is not simply about discounts. Since e-shoppers can't touch or feel the products, you have to create a virtual connection via branding, storytelling or social proof. Thereby, the shoppers will feel the price of the product is justified and they will add it to the cart.
To apply these 5 Rs effectively in cyberspace, we will recommend 5 visual merchandising tools for E-commerce.
Top 5 tools for online visual merchandising
To build an effective strategy for online store arrangement, you have to know in the first place which part of the website is the selling point.
Identify where to merchandise with Hotjar
If you are operating an online business, you must have heard of or you may be using Hotjar. This is a great software for online behavior analytics.
Hotjar's heatmap is a fantastic tool that lets you know where your customers tend to click and tap. As you can see in the example of Wyldsson, the left side filter tree, the right side of the top menu bar and the call-to-action button on the top banner get the most attention. These are prime lands for online merchandising. (Source: Hotjar)
The “all-in-one analytics and feedback” combines an extensive range of essential analytics features such as Heatmaps, Session Recordings, Conversion Funnels and Feedback Forms. From these, you can do the following to maximize visual merchandising benefits:
- Identify where on your pages visitors pay most attention to (where they click and tap most).
- Review the customer journey to see how they interact with the site and what they’re getting up to.
- Understand where browsers are dropping off along your sales funnels.
After that, you can try putting best sellers, sale collections or new arrivals in these places to increase sales. E-commerce businesses of all sizes usually place a Best Selling category in the top menu as site visitors hover and click at this position.
E-commerce stores, regardless of industries, usually place Sale collections on the far right side of the menu bar because it's where online shoppers click the most.
Leverage searchandising with Boost Product Filter & Search
When you use Hotjar, it's highly likely that the search bar also catches a lot of attention from e-shoppers. In fact, research by Retail Dive shows that nearly 90% of customers look for a product online before making a purchase.
Search and filter assists product discovery online; so it helps to bring the right product to the right customer.
The search result BEFORE implementing Rule-based Merchandising
The search result AFTER implementing Rule-based Merchandising
Take product visualization to the next level with WebRotate 360
Excellent product photography is an important aspect of merchandising for eCommerce websites. It's simple to show your goods in retail stores so consumers can pick up, inspect and try on items in person. To entice potential customers to purchase from your website, you must ensure that your product photos are high-quality and appealing.
WebRotate 360 can help to convert a series of photos into an interactive rotating image.
WebRotate 360 is made for E-commerce product photography. The best thing about it is that the software is designed for users of any skill level. The goal is to help anyone and everyone create high-quality still and 360-degree product images or even 3D online models in-house.
Create storytelling in website content with Gempages
A page builder app is necessary if you want to do online merchandising but don’t have much coding skills.
GemPages offer intuitive drag-and-drop page editing, so you can make landing pages, home pages, product pages, collection pages and blog posts in the design you want. It also offers a range of stylish templates to choose from and has some built-in SEO tools.
Customizing your website pages with GemPage is a piece of cake with ready-to-use templates and drag-and-drop editing.
Good news: GemPages has become an official partner of Boost. This means it is now much easier to enable a Boost filter tree on a Collection page by GemPages. Boost merchants just need to toggle the ON/OFF switch to activate the auto-integration flow.
Optimize mobile experience with Google PageSpeed Insights
Mobile commerce is a big market with burgeoning mobile users. All merchandising efforts can go to waste if your E-commerce site is not mobile-friendly. That's why search engines like Google emphasize mobile index first.
It has developed Google PageSpeed Insights (PSI) to monitor website speed both in desktop version and on mobile. More importantly, it “provides suggestions on how that page may be improved.”
Google PageSpeed Insights give helpful suggestions to optimize the site speed on both mobile and desktop versions. It shows the pain points that slow down your website and the estimated time savings when these issues are resolved.
PSI uses a scoring system from 0 to 100 to evaluate page speed. The higher, the faster and more optimized your page is.
An online transformation of an offline sales tactic is not easy to carry out but it's definitely worth trying. With the help of our recommended tools, you can find it much simpler to do online visual merchandising.
Also, check out these Online Merchandising Tips for SMBs if you are starting a local online business.