Don’t expect to find an academic definition in the next lines. It’s not a word that you easily define. But it’s well known that with your website you aim at maximizing your sales or your profitability by answering as well as possible your visitor’s needs. And to succeed, you can play on your product range/how you deal with your basket page…
To help me in my quest of building a definition of this “e-merchandising” word, I asked help to Thomas Pinte, an e-merchandising consultant at Altima° (French web agency).
Historically, merchandisers introduced front display or facing in physical shops in order to enhance their sales and put forward a selection of product in coherence with their strategy.
But nowadays more and more purchases are done online, so you have to adapt and you can find several tactics to do so and new one are appearing regarding possibilities given by internet. Within these tactics it’s quite tough and not pertinent to define which one is the most relevant or the most efficient. But some are more frequently used than others (because they come from common sense or they require less effort to be applied by companies with more or less human/financial/technical means…) :
What can be done today
- A “Good deals” section is present on more than 80% of e-business websites
- A “Seasonal” section is present on around 60% of e-business websites (like Cyber Monday, or Christmas ..)
- Elements as Cross, pack or up-selling are more and more present on e-business websites as they increase the average shopping basket even more than in a physical shop. There are technics that consist of recommended a product from that goes well with the product selected by the client or a product with a higher quality at a higher price or selling the product with others in a logic way.
Other tactics that can be applied :
- Optimize the search engine within your website (Learn how to optimise onsite search)
- Optimize the arborescence and the product catalog
- Emphasis of product on your homepage
- Personalization of the highlighted product
- Products recommendation
- Product page optimization
- Comparison or opinion tools
- Check out funnel optimization (UX design matters)
Notice that certain tactics presented above can also be used to promote your editorial contents !
E.g : Relates stories :
Furthermore, having an e-merchandising plan spare you the desagreement to see your visitors leaving your website too quickly or without any significant contact between you and them.
Most probable reasons why your visitors might leave your website :
- They can’t find the product or service that they are interested in (it happens 29% of the time). These run away could have been avoided thanks to an optimized search engine or a clear product catalog.
- They can’t add a product to their basket because of a technical issue or because this product is finally not in stock but still displayed…
- They can’t find information about a product or this information isn’t relevant.
- They can’t order (technical issue or your pages are not clear).
- They have to subscribe or give personal details for something irrelevant to them.
In e-business you have the word business
If e-merchandising needed to be defined in one tweet Thomas Pinte would tweet “In e-business” there is first “business”. Run the merchant common sens #BestFriend”.
From his point of view, you won’t find today THE website which exploits each lever of the e-merchandising. But you’ll definitely find good examples:
- Urban Outfitter works well on content vs product
- Birchbox which has an efficient search engine
- La Redoute works well on recommendation
- Dior/Lacoste for their enriched navigation
For Thomas Pinte who has to deal with several clients in different businesses/industries the thing to highly care of, whatever your business, is:
- The optimization of the search engine within your website followed by the ranking of your products,
- The recommendation
- and at least but not last, the personalization dimension.
If you are someone who thinks that to have more traffic you need to completely redesign your webiste or doesn’t know the definition of a “useful client” or what are the sales lever you need to activate within your product catalog, you might need to call Thomas for a refresher course.
For a successful e-merchandising plan you need human and you need a software that will save you time and money ! Each tool has its benefits and limits. You have among others Sparkow, FredHopper, Kalista…
These tools will help you in having the right product at the right place and moment, to the right price with the right stocks and finally the right content.
But what about e-merchandising in the future ?
From Thomas point of view :
- Companies making their business partially or totally thanks to e-commerce might want to internalize this skill more and more.
- Human will still be present to plan the strategy and to deal with softwares.
Personalization might become more and more THE thing to master. You will need to process quickly your e-merchandising plans