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Why Digital Merchandising is the Most Important Product on Your Ecommerce Store

As an online retailer, digital merchandising is your product. That's why merchandising warrants the same strategic planning as product lines and pricing models.  

As an online retailer, digital merchandising is your product. Shoppers are no longer drawn to an ecommerce store based on products or price. Customers can find the same products at similar prices almost everywhere. 

What you can control, however, is the shopper experience. This is where you can differentiate. This is why your merchandising warrants the same strategic planning as your product lines and pricing models.  

Searchspring invited Mikal Lewis, The Product Coach and Founder of Nordstrom Looks to join us for the webinar ‘How the Experts do Ecommerce Merchandising’.

Merchandising for Power

As Mikal outlined in the webinar, “when your ecommerce experience creates a pull and value ecosystem, it naturally attracts more customers over time.” One example of a brand that does this well is Nordstrom, where Mikal founded the ‘Looks’ approach to merchandising. Nordstrom has an established reputation and a core value of excellent customer service that creates loyal shoppers. Amazon, Sephora, and Nike are other brands Mikal highlighted as having value propositions that they deliver consistently. 

The problem most brands face is, how to generate this pull when merchandise is not exclusive and successful features are copied? The best way to differentiate your brand is to tell a story. 

One way to build a story through merchandising is to bundle and re-bundle products. Combine this approach with an authentic editorial voice and you can merchandise the same products on several product pages. Remember to tell your brands story throughout. If all brands describe products the same, they lose their voice. 

Nordstrom product page featuring women's black pleated midi skirt. Shows ways to style the skirt with a description, price, and reviews.

Patagonia is a great example of a brand that carries its environmental and social mission in their voice throughout its site. Whatever your unique story is, use it to frame the shopping experience from homepage to checkout.

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Digital Merchandising Best Practices  

Ashley further emphasized the need to look beyond your product and price when it comes to differentiation. Understanding your customers and why they choose you is the first step in determining a merchandising strategy. Are they price-sensitive? If so, avoid boosting the most expensive products to the top of results, for example.

Next, analyze your data and reporting. Look at how shoppers are interacting with your store. What are they searching for? How do they filter results? Which sorting options do they use? These reports provide valuable insights into your customers and what they expect to see on your site. Exit rates, conversion rates, and page depth reports can also help paint a picture of how search result and category pages are performing. Use these metrics to create benchmarks and identify opportunities for improvement.

Red Dress Boutique Product page. Showing digital merchandising and filters - color, price, size

Lastly, equip yourself with tools to leverage rule-based merchandising. This will minimize manual work involved to optimize your site, and allows sweeping changes in just a few clicks. As new digital merchandising trends and market shifts arise, you’ll also be in a position to respond quickly. Just don’t fall into the trap of taking a ‘set it and forget it approach’ – each small change to your merchandising strategy can generate a wealth of new insights and data on your shoppers.

Want to Learn More?

Ecommerce merchandising means something different to everyone, and rightfully so. Your individual strategy and tactics should be influenced by products and customers. Broadly speaking though, it’s about getting the right product, in front of the right person, at the right time.

The trick is to organically entice customers with an exceptional shopper experience while making the most efficient use of your time. Download the webinar to learn more expert tips on ecommerce merchandising, or request a demo to learn how your store could benefit from Searchspring’s solutions.