6 Actionable Retail & Ecommerce Merchandising Strategies
When developing an eCommerce merchandising strategy, retailers must consider every factor involved in making an online sale. It’s not just limited to product placement. It includes branding and advertising, customer journey orchestration, website copy, product images, personalization, and overall user experience.
The goal of digital merchandising, as with merchandising in physical stores, is to make it as easy as possible for shoppers to browse, locate, and purchase the items they want.
The following 6 strategies are focused on helping you provide an optimized omnichannel shopping experience by upping your eCommerce merchandising game.
1. Identify and Understanding Your Target Audience
The first step to creating an optimal retail merchandising strategy is to take the time to understand your target audience (or audiences). We recommend creating a buyer persona—a representation of your ideal customer—by using a combination of market research and existing customer data. Steps to create a buyer persona include:
- Identifying demographic information
- Understanding your customers’ needs and pain points
- Analyzing customer buying behavior
- Defining customers’ goals and values
- Gathering psychographic information
Analyzing customer behavior and preferences allows you to tailor the shopping experience to customers’ needs and expectations. Ultimately, you should strive for a personalized approach to all customer interactions, again, with the goal of helping people find what they want quickly—and purchasing it easily.
2. Craft Personalized Customer Experiences
Personalization fosters a sense of connection between you and your customer. It’s one of the main ingredients of a good online shopping experience since (when done well) it connects all the moving parts of a customer’s shopping journey. It requires data and technology and involves the following steps to implement correctly:
- Collect and analyze customer data to understand preferences and behaviors
- Segment customers based on behavior, interests, demographics, and other factors
- Tailor content like product recommendations and offers to each customer segment
- Personalize other aspects of the journey besides the website experience (e.g., email, mobile app, social media outreach, paid ads, etc.)
- Test and optimize all approaches based on performance and customer input
Personalization engines like Monetate are designed to complement and enable effective eCommerce merchandising strategies. Features like A/B testing, customer segmentation, and personalized product recommendations help you create engaging shopping experiences for each customer. This one-to-one approach—or what we call “hyper personalization”—allows you to showcase the most relevant and effective content across channels, touchpoints, and customers.
3. Maximize the Power of Visual Merchandising Online
Designing and arranging product images and the layout of a product page is the cornerstone of an effective eCommerce merchandising strategy. Not only can it significantly enhance a customer’s shopping experience, the emphasis on visual elements is essential in a digital setting since customers can’t touch or otherwise interact with a product.
High-quality product images and videos are part of the visual merchandising playbook. For effective product photography, be sure you feature:
- Clear, focused images
- Adequate lighting
- Multiple angles
- Product close-ups
- Neutral backgrounds
- Consistent styling
- In-context shots
Another thing to consider is virtual reality which allows customers to use their phone or other device to superimpose a product image into their real-world living space. This adds an element of tangibility to the shopping experience, bridging the gap between physical and digital retail experiences.
Finally, don’t discount the importance of your website or app layout. An intuitive layout should feature clear navigation, consistency with all design elements, a logical flow, and clear call-to-action elements (buttons, images, etc.) throughout.
4. Effective Product Curation and Catalog Management
Product curation involves carefully selecting, organizing, and presenting products to online shoppers. This crucial aspect of your eCommerce merchandising strategy involves identifying customer preferences then selecting high-quality products that match those preferences.
For larger retailers, it’s not just about choosing what a customer segment might want based on their buyer persona. You also need to stay on top of trends, market demand, seasonal shifts, and anything else that impacts what people are and aren’t buying.
Dynamic catalog management tools can help streamline this process and are the best way to manage large catalogs, not to mention capitalize on shopping trends and seasonality. These tools leverage a combination of data and ML to identify trending products and adjust your offerings.
5. Implement Cross-Selling and Upselling Techniques
Sophisticated tools like predictive analytics are the secret sauce to effectively cross-sell and upsell products. This technology helps retailers identify higher-value and similar items that might resonate with a customer based on past behavior and purchases.
Upselling relies heavily on FOMO (fear of missing out) and social proof. Some ways to integrate upselling and cross-selling into your online store include:
- Showing customers product activity (e.g., “others also bought” or “If you bought this you might like that”)
- Offering premium versions of an item
- Bundling items together
- Suggesting complimentary products to increase order size
- Offering discounts or promotions, particularly when bundling items
With upselling, you’ve already connected with your customer. The goal is to help them discover new items that they may like based on data like browsing behavior, what’s in their shopping cart, what other customers like them purchased, and more.
6. Adapting Your Merchandising Strategies for Mobile
Mobile-friendly digital merchandising focuses on creating a shopping experience that works well on smaller screens and leverages smartphone features like augmented reality, which uses a phone’s camera to superimpose products into the customer’s real-life location.
When adapting retail merchandising for mobile, be sure to:
- Keep your overall design simple with less images, text, and other elements since you’re working with smaller screens
- Personalize offers, product suggestions, and content based on user location or other mobile-specific data
- Lean into visual elements like images, video, graphics, and clear buttons or larger text that helps guide users to act (e.g., gs like
- Make sure the checkout process is straightforward and provides an option for the customer to pay via their mobile wallet
Preparing for Future eCommerce Merchandising Trends
According to a report by Forbes, retailers must deliver a “near-bespoke” experience to every user—what we referred to as hyper personalization. That means providing customization at every level and using data to inform recommendations and offers. To prepare for the future, you should focus on some key areas including improving retail data collection, enhancing customer experience, and exploring social commerce.
Another trend that’s growing with retailers is bringing digital experiences to physical stores by using technology to create immersive, interactive experiences. The approach uses technology like QR codes, smartphones, and digital signage to interact with customers as they shop. It effectively turns stores into media platforms, not unlike a website.
Consumers, for their part, are willing to provide personal information in exchange for better shopping experiences. According to EY, 70% of consumers are okay handing their data over to retailers in exchange for personalized offers. Retailers who weave personalization into the online merchandising process are in a much better position to adapt their eCommerce merchandising approaches versus those that don’t.