NEGOSENTRO.COM | Often called a science of displaying and presenting products online, ecommerce merchandising can turn into a powerful sales technique. To prove that, we could just share with you a whole bunch of general tips and tricks, but we believe that building an effective merchandising strategy calls for understanding of industry specifics. As food is one of our focus ecommerce types, we witness how a serious approach to merchandising can become a real sales booster there. Here are four techniques for food sellers to heed.
1. Effective catalog management
Selling food online, companies deal with huge product catalogs so the need for simple and intuitive navigation comes to the fore. As a general rule to manage multiple SKUs, retailers need to narrow down the product range to the top navigation (key sections like dairy products) and come up with 2-5 navigation levels (can be cheese, cultured dairy, frozen desserts for the dairy category). Thus, customers will figure out what category to go without much trouble. For them not to “lose” the main menu while navigating across the website, it’s better to fix it on the top or left side of pages.
Also, retailers shouldn’t neglect the importance of onsite search that supports autocomplete, faceted search, and spellcheck. Knowing exactly what product they need, customers would likely prefer using the search function to browsing the whole category up and down.
Talking about effective catalog management, we can’t gloss over website optimization for mobile. With ever-increasing number of mobile purchases, merchants must prioritize providing a satisfying mobile shopping experience not to lose customers. In fact, 62% of shoppers will hardly purchase from a web store anymore after a negative mobile experience. Retailers could have catered to the needs of mobile users with a mobile app but Google’s mobile-first indexing calls the shots and makes mobile optimization obligatory for ecommerce websites competing for high search positions.
However, coming up with responsive design is not always an optimal solution for a food web store. This usually means that web designers think through website navigation and catalog display for desktop viewing and then scale the website down to a smaller screen. However, the context for shopping from mobile devices is generally different (thus, people may make purchases on the go) so a simplified but still efficient experience is needed. In this regard, the development of a full-fledged mobile version of an ecommerce website allows focusing on expectations and needs of mobile users. For example, retailers may opt for less text but keep quality imagery and leave one call-to-action (if there are more on a desktop version) to ensure a straightforward way for making purchasing decisions and adding products to the cart. Besides, using built-in mobile features like voice recognition for a voice search adds to a unique experience and brings a company ahead in the ecommerce competition.
2. Smart recommendations
Retailers can fuel a customer’s purchasing process by recommending relevant products they might need. And it’s crucial that recommendations provide value rather than express a clear intention to sell more. Knowing their product assortment well, retailers can think of clever ideas – here come ours for inspiration.
- Thinking outside the box about a blog on an ecommerce website, we offer retailers to use it not only as an informational source for customers but as a sales opportunity as well. Thus, relevant for the food ecommerce market and target audience, a blog with recipes can sell all the needed ingredients on one page – convenient for customers and boosting for a sales volume.
- Retailers may group products going well together and sell them at a special price. Let’s say healthy eaters will be happy to buy sets of sugar-free snacks for the upcoming week.
- There can be recommendations generated by customer feedback. With certain customization, the system will show top-rated products should a customer browse a certain category. The technique works best for first-time customers when retailers don’t yet have information about who they are but still want to provide some value.
3. Personalized shopping journeys
General product recommendations were the first step towards a unique shopping experience online. Now, let’s bring personalization capabilities into play to show how retailers can provide customers with contextually relevant content. With modern ecommerce technologies in place, they can follow a customer journey on a website and assist with targeted offerings. Here are types of customer data that allow for personalized merchandising.
- Individual purchase history. Retailers can be helpful to customers at the very end of their purchasing process. When checking the overall list of products in the shopping cart, customers may see recommended items from their previous orders they might have forgotten to add this time.
- Customer segments. Retailers can apply a variety of criteria to track similarities in their customers’ identities and behavior and, eventually, customize the experience to customer segments. For personalized merchandising, they can draw on demographic and psychographic segments, for example, coming up with recommendations of products popular within relevant segments for seniors or new moms.
4. Pricing techniques
There are different opinions of whether pricing relates to merchandising. But it surely does in food ecommerce where retailers massively engage product promotions and loyalty programs to offer customer-friendly pricing conditions. We are poised to prove that with two techniques.
- Retailers win price-sensitive customers with a dedicated category for current best deals available from the top navigation. It may become the first category customers visit even before checking with their product list. Offering all discounted products on one page, retailers increase impulse purchases.
- A loyalty program when customers get rewarded depending on their purchasing activity is a great competitive advantage in food ecommerce. We recommend retailers use the above-the-folder space on the homepage to advertise loyalty benefits and convert effectively first-time visitors who are new to the brand.
Let’s summarize and put in action
If understanding ecommerce merchandising only as a way to organize and present a product assortment, merchants lose a great opportunity to stand out with exceptional customer experience, which, in turn, promises increased sales. In our article, we have thought about the specifics of food ecommerce regarding merchandising and concluded that:
- Large product catalogs call for intuitive navigation.
- Price-sensitive customers appreciate when the information about discounts and loyalty programs is readily available.
- Timely product recommendations boost impulse purchases.
- Personalized product offerings optimize the shopping process for repeat customers.
With this knowledge, we encourage online food retailers to start developing an actionable merchandising plan for their business, be open to fresh ideas and continuously monitor how customers respond to their initiatives.