Merchandise Like a Pro

By Sarah Etter

February 22, 2013

Whether you’re a retailer, a travel website, or a financial services company, there’s still one critical component to improving your key performance metrics: Giving website visitors the ability to find what they are looking for.

Although merchandising might sound at the outset like a retail-only concern, the way everything from products to service packages to trips are displayed on a website can be the difference between a click and a bounce.

During Wednesday’s “Intelligent Merchandising That Drives Conversions” webinar, Lauren Freedman, President of the e-tailing group, offered up even more tactics websites can use now to improve merchandising efforts.

“Intelligent merchandising means knowing your customer,” said Freedman. “And personalization aids in securing incremental dollars.”

One of Freedman’s key points: The product page can make or break a conversion. And Freedman says the emerging trend for websites looking to merchandise effectively is to give visitors exactly what they want.

“Comprehensive product pages inform and inspire visitors,” said Freedman. “And visitors expect a comprehensive product page experience, from imagery through content and social dynamics.”

Freedman pointed to supporting statistics from the e-tailing group’s Annual Mystery Shopping Study, which is conducted every fourth quarter. Among the highlights:

- 56% of purchases involve researching a product online, which led Freedman to urge websites to offer detailed product information to help visitors make buying decisions quickly and easily.

- When visiting a product page online, quality of the item image was ranked “essential,” with 75% of respondents saying it was critical for selecting and ultimately purchasing a product.

- The number one influencer for purchases during the 2012 holiday shopping season: Ratings and reviews on product pages.

The good news: There are many retailers who are nailing product page offerings that everyone can learn something from. Freedman pointed to a number of websites for their excellent product pages, but here were some of our favorite examples.

BrooksBrothers

Brooks Brothers: One way to nail the product page? Make it easy for visitors to see what an item looks like in a different color. Brooks Brothers does just that, bringing its swatch feature front and center on product pages, as well as making it easy to share items via social media.

Godiva

Godiva: The chocolatier scored a product page win by giving visitors the ability to look inside of boxes of its sweet treats so they know exactly what they will get when their chocolates arrive.

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QVC: When it comes to jewelry, size matters. Realizing this, QVC started offering a scale feature on its product pages to ensure customers don’t buy something they won’t wear.

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Best Buy: The company doesn’t shy away from promoting ratings and reviews, posting them prominently on product pages. Visitors see five-star reviews of products, which are submitted by other customers.

While these examples were some of the standouts, Freedman had an array of others she discussed during the webinar. Check out the archived recording of “Intelligent Merchandising that Drives Conversions” to hear more from Freedman, as well as Kobie Fuller, CMO of REVOLVEclothing.com; Grace Hong, Director of Product Development for REVOLVEclothing.com, and Adam Figueira, Product Marketing Manager at Monetate.

Sarah Etter is the former the senior editor at Monetate. Before joining Monetate, she was a writer for various online and print publications, and served as the associate editor of The Internet & Marketing Report newsletter. Sarah also loves fiction writing and ice hockey... yes, ice hockey.

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