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!

Use Cross-Sell Effectively

Anyone who has shopped a major online retailer is likely to be familiar with the concept of product recommendations, also known as "cross-sell" or "up-sell" merchandising.

However, most small online retailers either underestimate the importance of them, or don’t implement them effectively (or at all).

Effective product recommendations are very important to the success of your venture – but often not in the way that most retailers assume.

Marriage proposal before the first date.

For example, it would seem logical that if a shopper is viewing a flashlight that it would also make sense to show them batteries, and perhaps a belt holster for the flashlight. But, if the shopper has not decided to purchase the flashlight, then those recommendations are irrelevant to that shopper. You’ve tried to propose marriage before they’ve committed to a first date.

To use recommendations effectively, you need a specific recommendation strategy.

Get the first date first.

The first goal should always be to get the shopper to commit to purchasing an item – otherwise attempts to up-sell are typically wasted.

When a shopper is viewing an item, they are expressing to you that they are interested in that item, or an item similar to it. So the most effective strategy you can implement is to also show them other items from your catalog that are the most similar to the item they’re currently viewing. This way if there is something about the item they are currently viewing that isn’t quite what they’re looking for, you’re showing them other alternatives that may be a better match.

Your goal is to get them to commit to an item.

Now, ask for the second date.

When the shopper has committed to purchasing an item (meaning that they have placed it in their shopping cart) is the ideal time to up-sell them to additional accessories or complimentary items.

If the item has obviously complimentary items – such as in the example of the flashlight, batteries and accessories – those complimentary items should be offered as a “prompted up-sell” – meaning that as the shopper adds the flashlight to their cart, the site offers them the add-ons at that point.

Now go for broke!

When the shopper has the item in their cart, there may also be other items that would logically fit the customer’s mindset. In the case of the flashlight, maybe it’s a home emergency kit. This is typically referred to as “up-sell” and these types of recommendations should often be made on the shopping cart page, or as a special promotion displayed when the shopper enters the checkout process.

Never waste your breath!

Using product recommendations in an effective way can increase conversions, and increase average order size.

Ineffective product recommendations are wasted space and reduce the likelihood of a conversion.

Easy and effective cross-merchandising.

If your retail site carries hundreds of products, and lots of selection of each product type you may find the task of associating similar items daunting. Another serious challenge is that the features you determine are similar about two products may not mirror the features a shopper is looking for.

Suite Spot Commerce’s Morphandize engine greatly reduces the workload of associating similar products and always ensures that the most similar products are associated with each other – even as new products are added to the catalog.

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