Many people choose to shop online simply out of convenience. With so many websites dedicated to eCommerce, you need to make your online store stand out from the crowd.
It's similar to how a standard, physical store draws in customers with things like music, specialty lighting, and even customer service associates, ready and waiting to assist people with finding specific things. However, on the web, things are a bit different.
In order to create the best possible experience for a shopper, many sites are now turning to searchandising.
What exactly is searchandising? How can you use it to make your sales grow? We'll go over the answers to both questions and more here.
The term "searchandising" is a portmanteau of "search" and "merchandising." The word refers to a practice that combines traditional merchandising techniques that have been optimized for the web, along with classic and enhanced search functions.
Although it sounds like searchandising is simply designed to help store owners increase their overall revenue, there's a bit more to it than that.
Searchandising is more than just having a well-designed website. It takes a few steps beyond that to provide a great shopping experience for buyers, complete with additional merchandise suggestions tailored to their needs.
Searchandising also includes taking those general search functions on a website and elevating them. After all, 30% of all users go to the navigational aids or search bars on store websites.
They need to receive the results that they're looking for. By meeting their needs, you can convert those users into customers.
General Searchandising Strategies
There are several general searchandising strategies that you can use to provide the best shopping experience for your eCommerce customers. Here are some of the most effective:
Searchandising is all about converting browsers into buyers, and personalization is one trick that works. By creating a list of related products you know a certain buyer will like, you're much more likely to see them click through and buy additional items.
These personalized results can be done by AI programs that look at specific factors like age, gender, geographic location, and even previous purchases. All of these go into creating the user experience that buyers truly desire.
Develop a Series of Search Rules
Do you have a certain type of product that you prefer to promote at certain times of the year? For example, someone selling holiday decorations will want to start promoting their Halloween items once September rolls around.
You can adjust your site's search results to boost these items to the top of the list while placing others lower down in rank.
Expanding on this, you can also create search rules for specific KPIs, any particular business goals, and several other things based on how you want certain items to appear in the rankings and results.
Create a List of Recommended Products
Everyone likes lists. A list of top-selling or most-searched-for items draws clicks and purchases. You can also put together groups of related items that a person may need, such as a belt to go with the pants they just put into their carts.
Having your AI systems create these lists provides additional selling opportunities. If you did them right, your customers would take advantage of buying some of those suggested products.
Put Your Ad Campaigns to the Test
Here's an example that shows just how useful these ad campaigns can be. Someone searches for a new pair of skinny jeans online. They find a pair from your store and purchase them.
After this, they start seeing ads on the other websites they frequent (such as news sites and so on) for other pairs of skinny jeans in slightly different styles, all sold on your website.
Clicking on one of these ads brings them directly to a page of your site where they can purchase this other pair of jeans. If your customer service and overall shopping experience were top-notch the first time around, then this person will probably buy that other pair of jeans.
Ad campaigns can be useful, especially if you take the information that your AI programming has gleaned from a particular customer and use it to get them to make another purchase.
This is searchandising at its finest. Not only do you get another sale, but your techniques convert a single purchase customer into a repeat buyer. This is what every eCommerce shop wants.
Always Track and Use Your Data
The data that you glean from your customers is very useful no matter what they're purchasing. You can have your AI programming keep track of which items a person has looked at, which ones they've purchased, the terms they used to find certain things on your site, and more.
You can take all of this information and create a series of profiles for your customers, either personal ones based on a shopper's exact wants and needs or general groupings broken down by things like age and gender.
The more data you have, the better your product suggestions will be for those who fall into those groups, making it more likely that they'll buy something.
Traditional Ecommerce Tactics You Should Remember
Although using the searchandising strategies listed above will help provide the experience your customers want, you shouldn't forget about some of the tried-and-true methods of setting up your eCommerce site.
This mix of both old and new techniques will help your customers find what they're looking for and get the experience and treatment they want.
Use Good SEO Practices
There's nothing like some traditional SEO practices, the white-hat ones. It's important to use a mix of both short and long-tail keywords in your item descriptions.
Don't forget about those headers (both h1, h2, and h3) and the metadata. Make your site easy to navigate by placing those keywords in your menus, breaking things into groups, and using categories, subcategories, and product pages.
Using good SEO practices will make your site easy to search, but your AI programming will function better, and of course, you'll be rewarded by Google with some good search result rankings.
Put Together an Image Site Map
While your site should have a map showing how it's organized from the top (main page) to the bottom (individual product pages), it also needs an image map. What's this?
An image site map is a collection of all of the product images on your site. If you used good SEO practices when uploading your images, the image file names are already reflective of what the images consist of.
Add in some good metadata (also a part of good SEO practices), and you have many images that Google's web crawlers will pick up on and use in their search index.
This will help your site's AI and search functions, but people who've never shopped your site before and come across it via a search engine will see your pictures of what they're looking for.
This brings in new users, which your searchandising efforts will turn into new customers.
What Does Your Customer Need?
While this sounds like a simple question, there's quite a bit behind it. Your customers need whatever your website is selling.
Otherwise, they wouldn't be on there looking at your curated arrangement of books and DVDs or whatever else you sell. However, you need to think beyond products to determine what your customers need from your site.
Do they want a specific number of suggested, related products? Are they looking for suggestions for things that might go with the sweater they just put into their online shopping cart? How would they like those suggestions to be displayed?
Thinking about all of the answers to these questions is the best way to make searchandising work for you and your customers.
By giving them what they need via search results, A.I. programs, algorithms, and other code built into your site, you're making the process easier. And the result? They'll reward you with higher sales, repeat business, and more.