What is eCommerce visual merchandising? 

I lived through recessions and a pandemic, plus happy times of economic boom and holiday celebrations. Whether positive or negative, I believe all major events make people think about how they spend their money, and this shapes e-commerce visual merchandising campaigns.

What is ecommerce visual merchandising?

E-commerce visual merchandising is the practice of using images and other visual elements to promote and sell products or services online. This includes using product photos, infographics, videos, and other types of visuals to attract attention and persuade potential customers to make a purchase.

E-commerce merchandising also involves creating an aesthetically pleasing layout and choosing the right colors and fonts. Regarding visuals, you also must concern yourself with the overall look and feel of your homepage, the placement of your site search bar, and visibility of product recommendations. It’s more than just about “looking pretty” though. You have to prioritize if you want to retain your potential and current customers.

What’s the number one way to attract your customers?

If you’ve been in the e-commerce industry for long enough, you know that the right online display can make or break a site. However, it won’t matter how neat, clean and organized your site is unless you can figure out how to engage your customers.

Once you how to get your customers to engage, you then move onto what I think is the most important element of ecommerce visual merchandising. I’m not going to tell you what that is yet because I believe you need to understand the concept of engagement first . 

Step 1: Get Your Customers to Engage

Engagement seems to draw customers in as of 2022. They want to see reviews written by other enthusiastic shoppers, for instance. When they do, it helps them make an informed choice.

They also find questions and answers helpful. I know I do. I even search Q&A threads to find out what issues I can resolve without waiting for customer support to respond.

Marketers have attested to how important engagement is too. They say it’s not only important for business, but it also helps customers remember brands and services. When customers see conversations on websites in plain sight, it fuels their curiosity either for or against a brand.  

Now, here’s where I keep you in suspense. I’m not trying to say engagement is the most important aspect of visual merchandising, but online visual merchandising has become more engaging. For instance, a customer can shop for a blazer and automatically receive recommendations on what to match with it.

That’s an action that does increase customer engagement. It’s gone much further than this, however. I should also explain that just because a customer is interested in products or services, that doesn’t mean they’re talking to you or any other human.

Instead, they might have involved themselves in interactive product browsing. For instance, you have done well if you offer them simulated methods of trying on clothing. The same is true of makeup or when they seek shelving, small appliances, furniture or paint colors.

If you offer visual means, such as in an interior decorating app, to help them make informed choices based on a virtual experience, you’re way ahead of retail stores that closed down between 2020-2022. Keep up the good work, but it’s also more than just about the engagement.

Why is ecommerce visual merchandising so important?

There’s no doubt that sharp images, layouts and colors attract a customer to a site, but why is keen visual merchandising so important?

For starters, your potential buyers like a site that looks professional. Usually, well-laid-out ones do appear that way—as if you know what you’re doing. You portray yourself as an expert in your niche when you have a “neat and clean” site.

What’s more, your customers don’t want to not spend hours trying to find a product category or your “about” page. In addition, they don’t want to go through red tape just to ask you a simple question. If you can give them a CX that helps them avoid this plight, you will earn their trust. 

Aside from appearing professional, customers want information, and they will take that information any way they can get it. For instance, in 2022, a new trend on websites is to have long-form blog posts that have more academic authority, unlike the no-sources-cited articles written by marketers in 2005.

Long form content is good, but customers also still seem to appreciate the visuals. This means that the video marketing trend that started circa 2012 still prevails, and I have proof. In 2021, Kyra Goodman Business2Community contributor reported that 54% of customers 

Step Number Two: Think of Visuals As Information

Now, I am sharing what I believe is the number one most important aspect of ecommerce merchandising. Apparently, Statistica has learned this too. In one of their published reports from 2016, customers said that the most important online shopping criteria for them is 

When I speak of information, I wasn’t necessarily referring to delivery charges at first, though that is important. No one likes surprises. What I want you to see is that your customers need to make an informed choice about a product and service. The product descriptions, images and text do help. However, you need to take it one step further than this.

Step Number Three: Incorporate Traditional Retail Sales Techniques

One primary piece of advice I’ve notice is making sure you place the products you need to sell the most right now above the fold. Now, you may not “win them all.” Not every product will make it no matter how thorough you have been in your market research, but it does help.

You also can think of your website homepage as your “front window.” In fact, it wouldn’t hurt to have an interactive shop window display on the first page of your site and change it every once in a while with the latest products. You also can have carousels of popular products, seasonal items and clearance sale merchandise flashing across your pages.

Collections of products that go together, pricing category lists and loyalty programs or coupon offers found in plain site also will attract your online customers. However, don’t make your site pages so busy that your customers can’t remember what “aisle” they’re in and why.

Step Number Four: Work On Your Picture Taking (And Video Recording)

Remember what I said earlier. Pictures and visual merchandising is just as much information as is texts or explanations of online delivery charges. You need to show all sides of a product from top, bottom, left, right, inside and outside, and even inside out if necessary.

It’s also important that you become comfortable showcasing the products you plan to sell to people hundreds of miles away from you. After all, that visual, along with the pictures and text descriptions you posted, may be the closest to that item they will get until it arrives to their destination.

In my opinion, a person shouldn’t have to ask you a single question about an online product. They should just be able to see from the picture and the description what it is, what it’s for and how to use it.

Knowing who would most use it also does help customers as well. I realize I’m speaking in a fantasy land, but I believe that your pictures should help you tell your product and brand story, and at the very least, help cut down on the questions your customers have.

Step Number Five: Choose The Right Display Setup

I believe one aspect of selling will always prevail. Choosing the right display setup before you take pictures and record videos will make a difference.

Resist the temptation to “get sloppy” with product photos just because you don’t have a physical store. That would be like Amazon or Ebay selling items partly showing from an open box with a pile of discarded, defective items sitting right next to it.

Just because you need stunning pictures and videos, on the other hand, that doesn’t mean you have to make it complicated either. I personally like the see-through risers, cubes or shelves because you can just pan and zoom around your products without having to touch or move them. I would even suggest clear for counters when you have to perform product demonstrations.

Step Number Five: Make 360 Videos and Images

I like the 360 videos and images, as long as the photographer captured enough of a panorama all around the item to make it visible. This requires making your picture resolution match what you’d post on social media pages.

Otherwise, the pictures or videos won’t provide you as much of a viewing span as they should. I am all for them, as they have helped me shop online numerous times when my product curiosity got the best of me.

Step Number Six: Consider Virtual and Augmented Reality

You can help your customers feel like they’re in your store. They can either participate at home or in your physical location. They would wear the VR or AR gear (glasses or a headset) and place themselves in the presence of your world of products you have to offer. All your offerings will appear life-size, and it will appeal to one more side of them that I forgot to mention—their senses.

They may not be able to physically touch, taste or smell a product in the AR or VR “alternative world.” However, it’s immersive enough as of 2022 to make people see all the information they need just by looking at it online. 

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