E-Retail merchandising is a set of techniques that brands use to increase sales of their products on e-retail sites. These sites usually sell many different brands, so e-retail merchandising is not the same as e-commerce merchandising.
E-Commerce merchandising is all about creating a clean shopping interface and providing a good assortment to maximize conversion and basket value. Simply put, it's about converting visitors into purchases.
Typical e-commerce merchandising techniques include:
- Visual merchandising: offering a clean interface and appealing product presentation
- Personalized product recommendations: using customer data to suggest relevant products
- Complementary sales: cross-selling based on what the customer added to their basket (“customers also purchased”)
E-Retail merchandising, on the other hand, uses a different set of trade marketing techniques to drive sales of a specific brand. In this article, we'll go over a few of these techniques.
Build up traffic to your product pages
Your first goal is to get as many eyeballs on your products as possible. According to Wolfgang Digital, an average e-commerce session consists of just five page views, so if your product doesn't show up fast, it's losing a lot of potential attention.
You need to make sure that your products show up in many keyword searches and category searches. Here's what you need to do for that to happen:
- Place relevant keywords in your product page titles and descriptions.
- Make sure your products are listed in all relevant categories.
- Fill out as much product information as possible.
- Improve average review scores as some algorithms penalize poorly reviewed product pages.
- Use all product page content opportunities (text, images, videos, rich content) as pages with more content show up in more searches.
- Sponsor your listings to appear in new searches or on your competitors' keywords.
- Schedule promotional events that will put your products on the front page.
Regularly measure your brand’s position in the search results for popular keywords to make sure you're on the right track.
Increase the conversion rate of your product pages
Once you drive traffic to your pages, the next step is to increase your conversion rate. This is especially relevant for pricier items. Consumers looking to buy a thousand-dollar computer, for example, will typically do a lot of research and comparison shopping before they buy.
Keep in mind that the industry average session-to-purchase conversion rate is just 3%, so even seemingly small improvements in conversion rate can have a massive impact on your sales.
A good strategy is to look at your pages and ask yourself: "Am I giving them excuses to not buy my product?" Check everything on this list:
- Reviews: is the average review score bad? Are there any troubling reviews that you haven't addressed? Are there too few reviews? According to the Spiegel Research Center, reviews can boost the conversion rate of low- and high-priced items by 190% and 380%, respectively. If you have too few reviews on a site, you could look into review syndication from your brand e-shop.
- Pictures: are your pictures appealing and completely straightforward? Is it easy to understand how big the product is? Can you see the back? Does it show what's inside the box? Justuno found that 93% of consumers consider visual appearance to be the key deciding factor in a purchase decision.
- Description: is your description clear? Does it answer all possible questions? Do you mention compatibility?
- Price: on a site-by-site basis, how does your pricing compare to your competitors'?
Some sites will give you detailed insights into your conversion rates. For others, you'll have to make do with sellouts to see if your effort is paying off.
Provide a brand-like experience and improve recognition
Building a strong brand is not just about your products and your advertising. E-Retail merchandising is a big part of it. If you reach a decent level of brand memorization, you'll see an increase in repeat purchases, and you'll even get benefits across platforms. For example, getting your merch right on Amazon.com could improve your performance on other e-commerce sites and in store.
At the site level, a study from Adobe found that 8% of customers generate 41% of the revenue. That's the power of repeat purchases, and it's only natural for you to want in.
Of course, it's harder to drive memorization when people are seeing your products in an e-retail environment. It's impossible to provide the same kind of experience you would on your brand's site. But there is still a lot you can do:
- Place your brand name at the beginning of each product page title. Don't make the mistake of only listing your products under the product name.
- Make sure your product content is consistent. It should be consistent with your brand, consistent between products and consistent across sites.
- Write product content that focuses on benefits and emotions, not specs. People won't remember the exact specs of your products, but they will remember how it made them feel.
- Create repeat exposure to your brand with display ads and retargeting.
- Explore the possibility of getting a brand page on e-retail sites. These pages allow you to develop a true-to-brand experience on a third-party site, so you can show your brand’s universe and showcase your most profitable products.
Optimize your hero images for mobile
This is especially relevant for FMCG products, where people are looking to add 10 to 50 items to their basket in just a few minutes. As people move to mobile shopping, e-commerce sites are adapting their navigation and apps. But there's one thing they can't do for you: show bigger images.
When people shop from a handheld device, all of the images are tiny. It's hard to understand at a glance what the product is. It has even happened to me. A cheap bag of chips I ordered turned out to be the single-serving-sized bag! But how do you tell how big the bag is when the image is the size of your thumb? A traditional packshot doesn’t work.
In 2016, Unilever realized there was a problem. They started a working group to create a new standard. As a result, mobile-ready hero images were born.
It's a set of guidelines for your primary image that ensure consumers can answer four questions at a glance:
- Who is the brand?
- What is the product?
- Which variety is it?
- How much of it is there?
Applying this technique will yield considerable results for FMCG products. It also works to a lesser extent in other product categories. In 2019, Seagate updated all the product images of their hard drives and saw an increase in page views and conversion rates.
E-Retail merchandising is hard. Because everything you do is on third-party sites. You rarely have back-office access or analytics. It's hard to determine the exact ROI of your action. What you can measure though are proxy metrics like a content performance score and your share of the digital shelf. Want to start measuring those today? Sign up for a BlueBoard free trial.