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Inspiring impulse buying: Maximise the impact of your online visual merchandising 

Indie retailers are experts at creating an in store experience that transports the customer, creating an emotive response through the desire to buy into a style, trend, brand or lifestyle image.

It is this understanding of how to engage and inspire their customers that makes them so successful.

Online retailing would be easy if you could bottle that precious brand essence and just sprinkle it over your ecommerce site. But life is never that simple and a stumbling block for many retailers (not just independents) is how to capture the same brand energy online.

The thing about shopping in store is that you are easily tempted into purchasing items above and beyond what you went shopping for. In many cases customers make a purchase because they have been out ‘window shopping’ and in the process of browsing the stock decide to buy that little black dress for Saturday night which they didn’t really need but have now decided they want! This is a key point because once you understand the shoppers psyche then you can begin to tailor your ecommerce to suit their needs.

True customer engagement works on a deeper level than simply attracting them to your website (that’s the relatively easy bit of the process). Customers generally view around 15-49 pages online before committing to a purchase. This means that every visitor to your website needs to be considered in terms of converting them into a sale – in the same way your sales assistants do in store.

That sounds simple but not all customers are the same. Technology for all its merits can’t replace the knowledge, intuition and experience that your sales assistant has – a website can’t make a judgement call on what the visitor to the site is thinking. For example what do they want? Are they merely window shopping or have they come with the intention of buying something specific? A good way to understand this is to categorise the shoppers point of view in the following way:

The Buyer has already made a decision. They know what they want to buy and have probably identified a specific product therefore they want to get to it as quickly as possible.

The Hunter has an idea of the type of item they want to purchase but hasn’t made any firm decisions on a specific brand, product or price.

The Browser is a free agent. They haven’t even embarked on the purchase decision road and are literally exploring and seeing what’s available.

Once you understand visitor’s priorities and reasons for choosing your brand then you can provide them with the functionality they require in order to help them find what they’re looking for with ease- replicating the role of the sales assistant. Buyers and Hunters are relatively easy to engage and search and intuitive faceted navigation tools will quickly help them to locate the product they are searching for. But what about the Browser -who has the potential to spend more as they are not looking for something specific?

Search and Faceted Navigation has limitations for the browsing customer, it can easily become frustrating hopping backwards and forwards from thumbnail to thumbnail. What you need is visual merchandising that will catch the attention of those browsing customers and an experience that is pleasurable to use and easy to navigate. Strategically placed up and cross sells are essential as you are effectively trying to tempt the browsing customers at all times.

Good quality photography and image assets are also crucial. The right product presentation can create and emotive response in the customer that will inspire them to buy into the style, trend, brand or lifestyle ‘image’ presented to them. Visually engaging imagery can also introduce natural up and cross sells through the presentation of products in context (in a similar way to the traditional catalogue). Placing products in context always makes them personally relevant to the customers as they can then begin to visualise themselves wearing or using the product. 

Great online visual merchandising is easy to achieve with the right technology solutions. Here at Redfish Group we have developed a technology solution - Rich Collections http://www.wmps.com/technology/commerce/rich-collections - which can bring your online commerce to life in this way. Existing photography can be maximised to create inspirational collections that allows customers to see products in context making it relevant to them personally. This form of presentation creates natural upsells as shoppers are able to browse and explore with ease as opposed to having to search for a specific item. This solution not only differentiates your brand and enhances product presentation; it is also proven to increase conversion rates!   

With the right visual merchandising you can ensure that any customer who visits your ecommerce site will receive the same level of service and engagement as they would in store. Just remember who the customer is and their reasons for being on your site. Tailor your site accordingly (to cover all profiles) and you can’t go far wrong.  Who says the store experience can’t be bottled? 

Please contact us if you’d like to find about more about the integration of Rich Collections to your site.

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