6 Actionable Ecommerce Marketing & Retail 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.
6 Actionable Merchandising Strategies
Unlock the full potential of your online store with these six decisive merchandising strategies, integral to a successful eCommerce marketing strategy. These insights will guide you through understanding your customers, crafting personalized experiences, effectively showcasing products, and optimizing for mobile platforms. Each approach is designed not only to meet the dynamic demands of online retail marketing but also to offer your customers a seamless and captivating shopping experience. Let’s delve into each strategy to elevate your eCommerce marketing 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
As the retail landscape continues to evolve, ensuring your merchandising strategies are mobile-optimized positions your store favorably in the palms of consumers worldwide, making it effortlessly accessible anytime, anywhere. Embrace the mobile revolution with thoughtful adaptations to your merchandising strategies, and watch your online store flourish in the dynamic digital marketplace.
Creating a Winning Strategy for Your Online Store
Crafting a winning strategy for your online store requires a blend of creativity, data-driven decisions, and a deep understanding of your market niche. This strategy should be dynamic, adaptable, and continuously refined to align with changing consumer behaviors and market trends.
#1: Innovation is Key
Introduce unique features, services, or products that set your store apart from the rest. Consider subscription models, loyalty programs, or exclusive products that make shopping with you a special experience for customers.
#2: Explore Technological Integration
Incorporate emerging technologies to enhance the shopping experience. Think augmented reality for product previews, chatbots for instant customer support, or blockchain for secure and transparent transactions.
#3: Craft Compelling Storytelling
Develop a brand narrative that resonates with your audience. Storytelling isn’t just for products; it should weave through every aspect of your customer interaction, from homepage to checkout.
Through weaving innovation, technology, and storytelling, your online store won’t just attract visitors but will convert them into loyal advocates of your brand. It’s about creating a store that doesn’t just sell but engages, excites, and ethically aligns with your customer base, paving the way for long-term success in the digital retail landscape.
Considerations to Make Before Switching to a New Strategy
In the dynamic landscape of eCommerce, change is inevitable and often necessary. However, before you pivot your existing eCommerce marketing strategy, pause and ponder over these pivotal considerations to ensure a seamless transition and the ongoing success of your online store.
#1: Evaluate Current Performance
Examine the efficacy of your current strategy meticulously. Identify areas of strength and aspects that require improvement. Are you not meeting your goals due to inherent strategy flaws, or are there external factors at play?
#2: Define Clear Objectives
Outline the objectives of adopting a new strategy. Whether it’s increasing conversion rates, enhancing customer engagement, or improving brand recognition, having clear, measurable goals is imperative for evaluating the new strategy’s success down the line.
#3: Understand Customer Impact
Any change in strategy should be customer-centric. Consider how the shift will affect your customers’ experience. Will it simplify their journey, offer more value, or potentially alienate existing customers.
#4: Resource Allocation
Consider the resources—time, money, and manpower—required to implement the new strategy. Do you have the necessary funds and skilled personnel to execute and maintain the changes effectively?
#5: Risk Assessment
Switching strategies inherently involves risk. Conduct a risk-benefit analysis to understand the potential challenges and pitfalls of the new approach, as well as contingency plans for addressing these issues.
#6: Testing and Feedback
Before fully committing to a new strategy, test it on a small scale. Gather feedback from customers and analyze performance metrics to gauge its effectiveness and make necessary tweaks before a full rollout.
By contemplatively approaching your strategy shift with these considerations in mind, you mitigate risks and set a sturdy foundation for the successful implementation of a new eCommerce marketing approach, ready to meet the dynamic demands of the online retail environment.
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.