If you’re an online retailer, your digital merchandising is your product. Shoppers are no longer drawn to your ecommerce store based on the items you sell, or how much you sell them for. The fact is, your competitors likely have very similar products and prices, and there isn’t much you can do about it.
What you can control, however, is the shopping experience. This is where you can differentiate. This is why your merchandising warrants the same strategic planning as your product lines and pricing models.
We invited Mikal Lewis, The Product Coach and Founder of Nordstrom Looks to join Searchspring’s Product Manager, Ashley Hilton for a webinar on ‘How the Experts do Ecommerce Merchandising’ to explore how retailers can stand out in this increasingly competitive online landscape. Download the full recording, or read on for a summary of their top insights and tips.
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 a well-established reputation and a core value of excellent customer service that shoppers gravitate towards. Amazon, Sephora, and Nike are other brands Mikal highlighted as having very distinct value propositions that they deliver on consistently.
The problem that most brands face is: how do you generate this pull when your merchandise is often non-exclusive and your successful features are often copied? In reality, the only way to differentiate your brand is to build a story around the products that you offer and the services you provide.
One of the tactics for building this story through your merchandising is to bundle and re-bundle products. By combining this approach with an authentic editorial voice, you can merchandise the same products for different contexts, and transform a collection of products into a perspective. Do you and your closest competitor sound the same? If so, you’re under-utilizing the power of voice.
Patagonia is just one great example of a brand that carries its environmental and social mission and voice throughout every page of its site. Whatever your unique story is, it should frame the shopping experience from homepage to checkout.