Top Takeaways from Merchandising Workshop 2014

Quick Quiz: What do you think was the most commonly overheard thing at this year’s Merchandising Workshop held at the beautiful Terranea Resort overlooking the Pacific Ocean?

a) Wait, there’s a workshop here, too?

b) I miss the humidity and oppressive heat back home.

c) What great content, I’m looking forward to implementing the things I learned here!

If you guessed “C”, you’re right! Even with perfect weather, the attendees this year were all very engaged with the information shared by the speakers and the other attendees and were ready to take what they learned and apply it to their own ecommerce sites.

Many of the merchants we met with this week are interested in adding new functionality to their site but were uncertain whether their ecommerce platform had the capability. Several relatively simple merchandising improvements discussed and being investigated by retailers at the workshop included:

  • Optimizing navigation: Sites that have large numbers of categories can benefit from the re-grouping of categories to simplify customer options. Additionally, adding images of key featured items or categories can increase awareness and conversion of hot products
  • Adding unique navigation options: Merchants that have the ability to add gift guides, boutiques, or special collections for key events or holidays in their top navigation have seen increased sales during key selling periods
  • Improving site search: Customers now expect a basic functionality within site search that includes:
    • Auto Completion: Text Auto Completion is a feature that many ecommerce platforms have but many merchants have not activated. When linked with customer behavior data of previous searches, this can be a powerful tool that allows customers to easily find items and increase conversion.
    • Search-Based Product Recommendations: Utilizing data from customer behavior and searches, customers are presented with additional recommended items during the search phase. Conversions on the site increase by proactively presenting items related to a prior search.
  • Reducing cart abandonment: Recent research has shown that retailers who can show customers a cart total that includes estimated shipping and taxes, prior to checkout, have seen significantly reduced cart abandonment

Merchants should identify and prioritize the key features that they want to add and then assess whether the features can be activated on their platform and if not, whether there are third-party solutions that can easily integrate with their existing platform that provide the functionality needed. If your current platform cannot support most of these basic merchandising features, it may be time to consider a re-platforming project – as today’s customer will favor sites that make it easier to find products and then provide a simple checkout process.

FitForCommerce can help you with your eMerchandising strategy and processes by starting with a site assessment that will identify key areas that will improve navigation and checkout for your customers. We can also help you identify third-party technology solutions that work best with your platform that will provide your merchants with powerful new tools that will improve the customer experience while also increasing sales.

3 Hot Tips:

  • “Don’t obsess over data as a tool, obsess about the future.”
    – Jeff Beaver, Zazzle
  • Synchronized cart (cross-device) is a key feature since more consumers are interacting through two, three devices.
  • Don’t try to change everything at once. Make smart investments that balance your resources with the expected impact to your business and customer experience.