Visual Merchandising is the practice that drives sales by enticing visitors, increasing retention and making them your customers. The practice has long existed in physical retail with products placed in the right locations & stores to visually appeal to the visitors of the region intrigue their interest and make them customers. This includes adding displays, decorations, signs, and layout of space. The overall purpose of visual merchandising is to get customers to come into the store and spend money. Visual Merchandising is becoming more important in online retail, especially with the rose of mobile first commerce.
Why do you need Visual merchandising in ecommerce?
Online retail is hard. It is like having a physical store, but with your hands almost tied. Over 70% of the visitors visit online retail stores via mobile devices. They are on the move and do not have time. As a retailer you are not only competing with other retailers, you are competing with Facebook, Instagram, Netflix and every mobile application who wants a piece of your time to increase their engagement metrics. So how do your visitors interested in your online store and not leave at the ping of a notification? Visual Merchandising is practiced by all leading online retailers, to ensure that products displayed across their home, category & search results pages are geared towards acquiring visitor interest as soon as possible. In order to fix your ecommerce conversion rate, you first need to have more visitors view products of interest to them. If that number increases, even if you have the same ecommerce conversion rate, you are likely to make more revenue, by virtue of more visitors converting to the customer.
Common activities between online & offline Merchandising
Offline: A merchandiser uses data to send the products to the right stores, to ensure it appeals to the audience of that location.
Online: While you have only one store, you have visitors from multiple locations visiting the same online site. There are three ways you would get positioning right
StoreWide Trending: Analyze data across the entire online store to assign a trending score for each product at the store. This ensures no matter which part of the store you visit, this trending sort order of products is applied and is likely to increase engagement with visitors at your store.
Location Wide Trending: Analyze data across the entire store by Top locations to assign a trending score for each product at the store by location. This ensures when visitors arrive from various locations, the trending sort order of products of that location is applied and is likely to increase engagement with visitors at your store at that location.
Visitor Specific (Personalization): Analyze data across the entire store by the visitor to assign a trending score for each product type for that visitor at the store. This ensures when that specific visitor arrives at the store and views that product type, products for that type (e.g., tees) is applied for the visitor.
Decorations & Display:
Offline – Offers, events, promotions can change by location. To communicate this to visitors at the store, you might have noticed standees, pamphlets etc., displayed to visitors to attract walk-ins
Online: Page banners and popups are used to communicate the same information to visitors when they visit the online store.
Offline: Physical location has its constraints and stores have to be designed to ensure seamless movement of traffic within the store, while also ensuring communication and sparking visitor interest to view products is carried out.
Online: Your store can be accessed via a mobile device or a desktop. This may sound simple, but it’s difficult, as the same stores are accessed by visitors across locations, demographics & interest levels. Hence using 3rd party tools to analyze the heatmaps, movement and click-throughs need to be constantly used to continuing to ensure any in-store communication and sparking visitor interest to view products is carried out.
There may be a few more common activities, but strategically these are the top 3 challenges or requirements of a merchandiser – online & offline.
Visual Merchandising objectives:
The overall purpose of visual merchandising is to get customers to come into the store and convert them to customers. This journey starts with the visitor viewing products of interest, and that is the number 1 goal for merchandiser. In the online world, this would translate to reducing the bounce rate, increasing the number of product views per visitor & percentage of products viewed for the impressions by the visitor.
What are your goals as a visual merchandiser?
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