The merchandising 101 of e-retailing that can make or break your venture

1.Think Like Your Customer
2.Don't Run With Turkeys
3.Use Cross-Sell Effectively
4.If I Can't Find It...You Ain't Got It!
5.Why Should I Buy From YOU?
6.Every Product's Worth a Picture
7.You Gotta Be Easy
8.Create an Impulse To Buy
9.If They Wanted to Call...
10.Learn to Feed the Need!

Think Like Your Customer

The most successful online retailers have all mastered this simple concept. And, while it’s simple in concept it’s not always easy – but thinking like a customer is critical to developing effective online merchandising.

Thinking like a customer must start at the very basic levels of your merchandising strategy – such as the development of your site’s department structures. Many small online retailers have a tendency to develop a department structure that makes sense to them, but often what makes sense to an industry insider will make little sense to a shopper.

A simple example.

Take for example the concept of merchandising vehicles. An auto retailer might default to creating a department structure by make and model of vehicle, like:

* Ford
o Explorer
o Ranger
o Taurus
o Etc…
* Chevrolet
o Cobalt
o Malibu
o Suburban
o Etc…

For an auto industry insider, or savvy shopper who already knows what brands and models they prefer, this department structure might make sense. But, for most shoppers who aren’t familiar with all of the makes and models and only defines their need as a “Sport Utility Vehicle”, this department structure will be counter intuitive and difficult to shop.

How do your shoppers define their needs?

Answering this basic question is a critical logic step that should be addressed at every aspect of your merchandising design.

How will my butt look in these jeans?

If you've ever gone shopping with a woman, then you've probably experienced the just-popped-out-of-the-fitting-room question (the one we men dread) - "do these jeans make my butt look big?" I don't mean to pick on women here - every guy checks the mirror to see how the jeans work for him too...we just don't ask the question!

The point is that when a shopper is shopping for jeans, there are things they want to know. They want to see fit (pictured on a human). They want to see a picture of the backside too. They want to know all about the sizing (does this brand tend to run big, or small?)

Whether you're retailing jeans, or cars, or computer components - you've got to think like a shopper. What will the shopper want to know? What visuals might they need to feel comfortable selecting any given product?

The point is - no matter what you sell – if you want shoppers to spend time shopping your site and be engaged by your merchandising, you’ve got to think like a shopper as you develop your merchandising.

If you’re having a hard time thinking like a shopper, or want fresh insights into how shoppers define their needs in your retail niche, contact us for a new perspective.

My cart doesn't "do" that...

All too often, small online retailers short change themselves and their shoppers by not implementing features because the shopping cart software their site runs on doesn’t allow the merchandising format or features that would be beneficial. This is a huge mistake that will limit your conversions and profits significantly.

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