eCommerce is constantly evolving. In part due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but also driven by forces long before it, eCommerce is a quickly booming market avenue. In fact, according to a recent United Nations report, the global eCommerce sector soared to a whopping $26.7 trillion in worth on account of the pandemic.
Considering this enormous value, the booming internet economy isn’t something for one to set-and-forget. Companies who want to get in on eCommerce benefits (and all need to: it is the future) must understand the strategies and best practices that make it tick. For example, companies should focus on searchandising to maximize eCommerce revenue.
The key to searchandising lies in the two words that make up the portmanteau: “search” and “merchandising.” Searchandising is an eCommerce-specific strategy wherein businesses optimize their online storefront’s search functionalities according to key merchandising principles. This allows businesses to promote specific products within their catalog while keeping the entire customer experience personalized and dynamic.
After all, in the age of customer empowerment, personalization is what sets an online store apart from competitors. In fact, data from Accenture finds that 33% of customers stop patronizing businesses that offer little to no personalization. However, customers are also more likely to increase spending if their shopping experience is highly personalized.
Considering the potential benefits, it’s important to understand searchandising and employ it in your broader eCommerce strategy. Implementing smart eCommerce strategies, alongside online merchandising tools like Smart Merchandiser, will boost conversions and deliver serious ROI.
What Is Searchandising?
Searchandising, at its core, is the process of curating search results on an eCommerce storefront to boost conversions. Similar to traditional brick-and-mortar merchandising, this strategy maps out your store in a way that guides the customer’s eye so they notice the products that you want them to. But instead of strategically rearranging shelves and hanging up promotional posters, you use search results pages to feature certain products.
Leveraging this strategy, eCommerce businesses can:
- Create a more dynamic browsing experience for online shoppers
- Upsell or cross-sell products that are not often searched by consumers
- Divert consumers who are unable to find the product they want
- Personalize each customer’s search results
- Showcase core products or newly launched items
Searchandising allows businesses to enrich a consumer’s browsing experience by providing search suggestions that are relevant to the products that they are looking for, in addition to providing targeted sales boosts. In more advanced applications of this strategy, businesses can even suggest products based on products a consumer has already bought, browsed, or saved. This conversion-and-customer-experience double whammy is what makes searchandising one of the most popular eCommerce strategies today.
Searchandising Strategies to Generate More Revenue for Your eCommerce Site
Searchandising is a process, not just a simple one-step solution to implement. There are a number of different strategies you can employ to integrate searchandising into your eCommerce business practices. Starting with these seven easy-to-implement steps can set you on the road to better online conversions in no time.
1. Regularly Update Product Catalogs and Item Attributes
Brick-and-mortar shops constantly change their window displays. Why wouldn’t you do the same with your eCommerce storefront?
Displaying flagship items and products with high-profit margins may be great when launching your shop. However, as your store expands and gets more traffic, a sales analysis can give you more insight into what customers want and how they interact with your catalog. Continually updating how your eCommerce site displays products can keep customers engaged with new offerings.
Updating product descriptions and attributes regularly is pertinent for more than just sales and site aesthetics, though. Accurate product information is key to eCommerce growth. After all, customers cannot see product sizes and specifications for themselves pre-purchase in an online interface. They rely on the integrity of your word.
Of course, updating each product continuously and individually by hand will drain your precious time. Consider using tools like Smart Merchandiser’s product catalog and attribute management to streamline and fast-track this process. Automation options, drag-and-drop organization, and batch updates make refreshing your catalog a breeze. An accurate product catalog provides a base on which to build your searchandising strategy.
2. Highlight New Products
Search results pages, much like your home page, are prime real estate on your eCommerce site. Customers who have an idea of what they want are going to head right for the search bar. Therefore, any product you feature there is certain to be noticed. This makes your search page probably one of the best spots to highlight recently-released products.
Automated catalog management tools often rely on certain metrics (such as conversions and clicks) before it features products. Accordingly, new arrivals or new releases with zero clicks end up easily overlooked in a fully-automated search operation. Manually add them or program your tool to circumvent this and showcase these new arrivals so customers can discover them quickly.
Additionally, if you are about to launch new items and have not added them to your inventory yet, you can showcase them as “coming soon” on the home page to boost pre-sale clicks.
3. Showcase Your Highest-Margin Products
Of course, new releases and bestsellers aren’t the only products that deserve your customer’s attention. You should also take advantage of search results pages to promote high-profit margin products.
Striking a balance between new products and high-margin mainstays is a careful act. You need to monitor how your customers interact with these placements, to make sure they don’t have a negative impact on the shopping experience. To do so, you need to keep close tabs on customer and site data.
For example, you can use Smart Merchandiser’s analytics tools to identify clicks, view times, conversions, and other metrics. This helps you identify how customers respond to your product catalog layouts. Smart Merchandiser comes with an Analytics Overlay™ function, so users can see KPIs for a product just by hovering over it.
4. Display Products Based on Availability
In addition to showcasing newly released products and prioritizing high-profit items, another important searchandising tactic is displaying products based on inventory levels. Meaning, if you have a particular product with plenty of stock, front-load them on the results page. Meanwhile, if you have bestsellers that are depleting too quickly, you can opt to position them further down the results page so that they aren’t the first thing customers see.
A merchandising tool with robust inventory management features can assist here. For instance, Smart Merchandiser generates real-time reports about what’s on hand for each product. It provides a detailed breakdown of how much stock is left per item, as well as what colors or sizes are still available. Smart Merchandiser also has a function that allows users to set a threshold trigger warning once inventory is getting low. This helps you better determine when to restock, as well as how to tweak the products on display.
5. Formulate Custom Bundles of Your Products
Considering how 8 in 10 online shoppers research products before making a decision, it’s safe to say that a good chunk of consumers know what they want before they even visit your eCommerce shop. However, there is still that remaining 20%, who only have a vague idea of what they are looking to purchase. In these cases, featuring product collections or bundles can be helpful.
For example, say a customer visits your online pet supply shop to find items for his newly adopted puppy. These items could include anything from dog food and food bowls to leashes and crates–all items that don’t necessarily belong in one product category. With a collection specifically for new pet owners, customers can find the products they need on one page–and you can upsell or cross-sell related items in your catalog.
One can also employ this strategy for holiday, seasonal, or other special collections. If, for instance, you have a number of otherwise-unrelated products that serve as great Christmas gifts, group them together to help shoppers narrow down their search.
Of course, these are not the only ways to apply this technique. How you optimize this for your business will ultimately depend on the trends in your industry, as well as your customers’ unique shopping behaviors.
6. Make Product Search Results More Dynamic
When customers search for products in your catalog, certain keyphrases may yield multiple equally-relevant results. While simply displaying these results arbitrarily can help customers find what they need, this can also be a lost opportunity for you sales-wise.
Establishing product result ranking rules in line with searchandising principles enables a more dynamic way of displaying search results. Specify which products should be prioritized in the list of results. This way, each query your customers make guides them to items that you want them to see.
Instead of just showing products most relevant to a search query, set up rules that will display your most popular items alongside them. Alternatively, you can show relevant products on sale if you are looking to clear out inventory, or display new arrivals to promote them.
7. Invest in Natural Language Processing (NLP)
There is nothing more frustrating for a customer than searching for a product on an online store they know carries it, only to be greeted by a “No Results Found” page. Investing in natural language processing (NLP) functionalities might be something worth considering to curb this.
NLP is an artificial intelligence component that enables computers–eCommerce search engines specifically, in this case–to filter and assess language the way humans do. Leveraging strategies like parsing, word segmentation, and word sense disambiguation, NLP deduces the meaning and structure of different search queries. This can be useful in determining the intent and context behind a query. Perhaps a customer is using keyphrases that vary from your exact one, or entered a query with typos. With NLP, your site’s search engine will be able to generate relevant search results regardless.
In addition, NLP can also improve your eCommerce store by giving you the option to:
- Provide an autocomplete tool for the search bar, to make it faster for customers to complete their search
- Offer related keyword or keyphrase suggestions, so they can find similar products if they couldn’t find what they were looking for
- Provide smart product recommendations, so they can check out products that are related to what they want to purchase (this can include products that serve the same purpose, or products often bought alongside them)
The bottom line is that NLP allows your site to speak to your customers in their language. By intuiting what they are trying to say, you can reinforce your searchandising strategies and ensure a better browsing experience for your online shoppers.
Boost Your eCommerce Store With the Right Strategies and Tools
Modernizing your eCommerce site is hard work. But you can ease and optimize the process with smart strategies, like searchandising–and choose effective tools to implement these strategies.
Searchandising gives eCommerce businesses granular control over inventory and catalog displays, making sure your site visitors immediately see the products you want them to see. This lets you showcase new items, promote items that don’t get many views, or hide those that are low in inventory.
However, this strategy also involves sifting through large amounts of data, and extended stretches of time tinkering with the eCommerce site’s backend structure. Doing this manually eats up valuable business resources. Instead, this is where online merchandising solutions like Smart Merchandiser can make a difference.
Smart Merchandiser comes equipped with robust features for catalog and inventory management, which can simplify the process of repositioning products on display. Comprehensive analytics features then allow you to gain easy access to the key metrics required for developing effective searchandising strategies. With these tools and strategies at your disposal, you can curate positive online shopping experiences for your customers and encourage higher conversions in the long run.
Searchandising is about making data-driven decisions, and then implementing those decisions as quickly and broadly as possible. Use a powerful merchandising tool to help deliver on both those necessary factors. Reach out to Smart Merchandiser today and get started searchandising!