Creating a Winning Site Merchandising Strategy

May 30, 2017

Thus far in our “Make the Most out of Your Online Furniture Store” series, we’ve discussed marketing methods to create awareness and guide shoppers through the furniture shopping funnel. A comprehensive digital marketing strategy can help guide shoppers to your site, but once they’re on your site, how do you keep them there? A strong merchandising strategy is critical in any successful furniture ecommerce site to engage and retain furniture shoppers.

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Site Merchandising Goal #1: Tell a Story

An effective site merchandising strategy displays and offers products in a compelling and engaging way to keep shoppers on your site and ultimately drives sales. You should think about merchandising your site the same way you think about merchandising a store. When a customer walks into a store, or visits your site, what do you want their journey to look like?

Just as a good store layout will guide shoppers through the store, an effective site merchandising strategy will guide the shoppers through your site. The placement of products and promotions should tell a story. What’s on sale? What’s on trend? If there is a specific product you want to showcase or promote, chances are you’ll place it front-and-center in your store. Why not treat your products the same way online? Ultimately, your site should enable shoppers to find exactly the products they are looking for and guide them to a purchase.

Tips for telling a story through merchandising:

  • Design a flexible homepage that stays up-to-date with the latest promotions and trends.
  • Use homepage banners featuring promotions or products to excite and engage shoppers.
  • Use geolocation to showcase regionally-exclusive products to target specific shoppers and lead them through a custom, personalized experience.

Site Merchandising Goal #2: Inspire Shoppers to Browse and Shop upon Entering Your Site

55% of visitors will spend less than 15 seconds on your homepage. In other words, shoppers are skimming your homepage looking for the content and products that are most relevant to them. The homepage should therefore be easy to navigate and quickly inspire shoppers to move to the next stage of browsing.

Deciding what to put on your homepage is like deciding which pieces get placed in the coveted window spot. Do you put your top-sellers out front? Or do you choose the trendiest pieces? Which promotions should you advertise? Ultimately, your homepage should draw shoppers in, and entice them to shop with you.

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Tips for encouraging shoppers to continue to browse your site from your homepage:

  • Link to custom landing pages with relevant products and complementary copy to make the experience intuitive and informative.
  • Feature custom search result pages, using your ecommerce platform filtering capabilities, with specific groupings of products that may not be found elsewhere on the site to allow for a tailored shopping experience.
  • On product detail pages, display product recommendations that are generated based on shopping and preference data to help shoppers make informed decisions.

Site Merchandising Goal #3: Treat Landing Pages like a Showroom

If a customer were to walk into your store and ask about the promotion in the window, you probably wouldn’t direct them to products that aren’t eligible. As such, if you are advertising a promotion on the homepage for “20% off all blue sectionals,” the page element should link the shopper to a search results page featuring all of the eligible sectionals.

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Arguably, the most important “showroom” page is the product detail page as it is typically the last page a shopper will visit before making a purchase. As such, this page should instill confidence in the shopper, providing all of the necessary information they need to move to the next step.

Tips for creating a showroom experience online:

  • Include rich, SEO optimized sales content or romance copy to describe the product to shoppers and help them imagine what the product will look like in their home.
  • Be sure to include product specifications like height, width, fabric, color, etc. to provide shoppers all of the information they need to feel confident in a purchase.
  • The imagery should include multiple shots of the product, showcase colors accurately, and provide the ability to zoom and view different swatches.

Having a solid merchandising strategy starts with accurate product data and the technology that enables you to put these strategies into action. Choosing the right technology to merchandise products online is the first step to achieving this goal. At Blueport, we spend countless hours working with clients on how to create a winning merchandising strategy, providing the next-level tools and merchandising expertise to drive furniture sales.