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4 simple Ecommerce merchandising approaches

Author's avatar By Jill Robb 13 Nov, 2012
Essential Essential topic

Practical examples of offline retail techniques that also work online

Ecommerce is often considered completely separately from offline retail due to the logistics of both channels. However, if you have worked in the offline retail world as I have, you will know that many selling strategies that work offline to increase sales and increase average transaction values can work online.

In this post I'll examine some of the frequent offline selling strategies and show how similar effects can be achieved online.

1. Line of Sight Merchandising Techniques

In many offline retail stores, the layout of the shop floor is governed by the line of sight from the entrance of the store. Line of sight is the natural or common focus points for a consumers eye to be drawn to as they enter a shop. It is within these focal points that stores will place their top selling and highest turnover categories for the season to help increase sales on these items.

This line of sight merchandising theory can achieved online using a number of simple options:

  • Promote top selling categories using banners or carousels on entry pages (above the fold)
  • Change your navigation structure to ensure that most popular categories feature prominently on top level navigation¬†- note that there are some best of breed tools that can help you achieve this automatically by monitoring top selling categories and changing the navigation to reflect this. These tools are often called 'searchandise' tools because of the effect they can provide. Look at Adobe Search & Promote software, Fredhopper or SLI Systems or if you are a news/ content focused website achieve the same with most popular content with a tool like Visual Revenue.


2. Gift Marketing

At this time of the year people are getting close to full swing Christmas shopping. This year online sales in the US are set to top $54 billion according to eMarketer.

2012 estimated online xmas sales

In offline retail we have known for years that people tend to shop with budgets in mind, particularly when shopping for kids in an effort to ensure that everyone is equal. Think about the gifts sections in Boots stores in the UK which begin to pop up dripping with gifts and stocking fillers.

With this in mind, consider introducing not only a Christmas Gift category, but a Christmas gifts under £10 category, Christmas gifts under £20 category etc.

This will ensure that the Christmas shoppers who are on a mission to get in, get gifts and get out are signposted the ho-ho-whole way making their Xmas shopping "a doddle".

macys online gift guide

Macy's have introduced a gift guide to their site to assist shoppers by making Christmas shopping options clear and easy.

3. Change your 'you might also like' products

Most good ecommerce site platforms provide site owners with the option of including related or recommended products along the side or on the bottom of product pages users are viewing.

This is loosely based on an offline merchandising technique that is often used to increase average transaction values (ATV). In offline retail you will often notice that matching accessories or complementary items are placed above/ below/ beside hanging products in order to display full outfit options or "looks" with the purpose of making it easier for the consumer envisage and consider the full "set" rather than just one of the items from an ensemble.

At this time of the year, this technique increases in importance. To maximise on opportunities here, ensure that you review your "you might also like" options across your site. For example if you sell party dresses ensure that some of your recommended products on that page are party accessories or party shoes. Or if you don't have a match to complete the look, think about pushing your stocking filler type gifts for your Christmas shoppers.

4. Don't forget about till side (EPOS) advertising

Another ideal way to promote those lower value 'stocking filler' type items is to follow suit from most high street stores who place shelves beside their till points filled with lower value, low consideration items. If your website provides a quick view/ quick add to cart option, placing stocking filler options at checkout review could help you increase your ATV.

Tescos are achieving the 'last minute purchase' at checkout both offline and online:

Tesco using featured products on basket page

Tesco make good use of featured products to increase last minute add on sales on the basket page.

I hope these simple offline retail techniques give you ideas you can apply on your website this year and can achieve a Merrier Xmas for you. Please share any approaches you use.

Author's avatar

By Jill Robb

Jill Robb is the Smart Insights Expert commentator advising on more effective Ecommerce approaches. Jill is the CMO of Origin Digital, a Creative Digital Agency based in Belfast. Jill is also an Associate Lecturer at Ulster University on Digital Marketing and Communications. With a vast array of experience in retail, both online and offline, Jill's approach to online marketing is both refreshingly energetic and commercially astute. Jill is a regular speaker on topics such as search engine marketing and ecommerce and a contributor to business magazines both in the UK and Ireland. Connect with Jill on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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