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Visual selling and merchandising are concepts that have long been associated with brick and mortar shops. However, in the last decade, large eCommerce stores have started incorporating such techniques into their websites to increase online sales and have seen tremendous success.
That's why we’re here to explore how you can increase online sales through the use of visual selling and merchandising on your website and apply such traditional techniques into today’s technology for a rewarding online shopping experience, for both you and your customers.
Although online shopping has grown popular in many countries in the world, people miss physical shopping and they miss walking into their favorite store on a Saturday morning.
This feeling is not random or has deepened inside them by accident. Every element in these stores are meant to stir a specific feeling and a memory in the hearts and minds of shoppers.
Your website should do the same – full stop.
Your website’s homepage is the display window for your store, and it has to be catchy and intriguing.
Recent surveys and studies testing user experience and shoppers’ behavior on websites have shown that only 20% of users actually scroll down on a website’s home page.
This means that the first quarter of your online store’s homepage should include the best offers, hot deals, running campaigns and all the juice a user is interested in.
One trick to do that is with sliders.
Display a slider on top of your eCommerce site, with offers and hot deals in motion so that the user’s eye is caught and their mind is intrigued to take an action.
A rotating hero banner is the new trend, so out with the static images and in with the new. 😉 And you can easily create customizable, rotating website graphics with an DIY online design tool like, ahem, Visme.
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Top menus have proved to be more efficient than side menus or any other form when it comes to techniques of visual merchandising, especially in ecommerce stores.
Because top menus stay with the user on every page, and it’s a great visual stimulant for a shopper to explore more products, look at other categories, go back to the previous page, read the blog and hopefully take a buying action at the end.
Bear in mind that almost all ecommerce transactions nowadays take place from a hand-held device: mobile phones and tablets. So, your website has to be fully responsive on any device and all features on your site have to look as good on any mobile phone as they would on a desktop.
Just like in a brick-and-mortar store you find signs hanging from the ceiling with the name of the department on them, categorizing your products into main and sub-categories can do the trick and give online shoppers an idea about what to expect when clicking on this button.
Because people respond to visuals by nature, sorting your catalog of products, however small or limited it is, into main categories, and then into sub-categories, will boost your online selling and shoppers won’t get lost and bounce back.
One extra tip for you is to devote a separate landing page for each category, with offers, bundling, and featured products for this specific category.
When you think of the word visual, your mind automatically thinks of colors and images. We’ll talk about images in a bit, but let’s discuss the impact of colors on online selling and merchandising for now.
Marketers have always used different colors to affect users and provoke certain emotions in various ways. The same as in physical stores, when a shop is painted in a light color for a spacious effect or in a dark shadow for a sense of mystery, your online store’s colors say a lot about it and convey certain messages to visitors.
“Is that all sir?”
“Would you like me to wrap this for you Mme?”
Says the shop assistant in a friendly manner, urging you to complete a purchase or head to the cashier.
On an online store, that’s the call-to-action button – a clickable button encouraging the visitor to take a desirable action but in a friendly, non-pushing manner.
After a lot of testing and surveys, we recommend that your call-to-action button be contextual, that’s to blend with the context where it’s used, and be clear to a user’s eyes.
Notice how this eCommerce site is cleverly adding a sense of urgency right below the call-to-action button “Add to Cart” to boost a certain feeling inside the buyer.
Avoid “buy now” and “click here” buttons, and use a different color for the button with a black frame (so that the shopper can’t miss it).
We cannot stress enough on the importance of using highly detailed images for your products for a successful online selling experience.
Imagine that you’re at a store, shopping for a new laptop bag.
Wouldn’t you scan with your eyes all the bags on the stand first, choose one, touch its material, open it to see how many pockets it has and how it’s divided, check if there is a magic pocket at the back, and then you’ll ask the shop assistant if you can look at another bag, and so on till you decide on the most suitable one for your needs and budget?
On the main category page, tiles of white-background images are displayed next to each other featuring the product as a whole for a quick eye scan (we recommend white-background images so that a user’s eyes are not disturbed or confused and the product would be the focus not the background).
Color options below each image, a descriptive title, and price would be great.
Then for the product page, your product’s images should showcase each and every aspect of the product in hand. The user should be able to zoom in and out, as if they’re touching the item.
Provide as many images as needed as if the customer is checking the product inside out. You know you’ve done a good job when you’ve left no further questions or inquiries to the customer to ask; your images have covered them all.
Do you know that some online stores have gone a step further to provide the utmost online shopping experience to their customers by sending pieces for trial and fitting at home before purchase?
A lot of fashion stores and eyeglasses brands make it possible for customers to order an item or two (sometimes more) for trial before they complete the purchase. Brilliant.
Did you also notice the top menu, the top banner (first quarter of the page) with more visuals than text, and the high-quality images throughout the homepage? You’re an attentive reader, thumbs up. 😉
See how people are loving the idea of try-on before buying, especially for kids! The reviews (social proof) are positive and very encouraging for other website visitors. Good job.
To increase online sales on your website and maximize shoppers’ online buying experience, use all types of videos on every page of your online store.
Videos have been, are and will be trendy until the next wow technology is here. A professional video performs well on a website's homepage, welcoming visitors and reflecting a good image about the store.
Realistic video footage of a customer using your product can go miles on a product page, and an animated motion graphic explaining how to fill your information and add a payment method is perfect on the checkout page.
Here's an example of Visme's explainer video that you can find on the home page and a variety of other landing pages. Albeit not an eCommerce site, there's still much that can be learned from this example.
“How can I help you today?”
This is what you hear the moment you step into a brick-and-mortar store and this is what an online shopper expects to find when shopping online: help and assistance.
This is when a “search bar” comes into action. Be sure to include a visible search bar on top of every page on your eCommerce store. It's a good idea to freeze the search bar so that how far a user scrolls down the page, the search bar sticks with them for help and quick assistance.
Also use autocomplete and spellcheck features to display matching keywords and images as the visitor types their query. Allow shoppers to use a search filter to refine product listings by size, color, price, or brand, and try personalizing results based on 3rd party affinity data.
What are you going to do if you’re passing by a bakery shop and you find a line of passionate customers waiting for their turn happily and talking about how satisfied they are with this bakery?
You’ll get in line, even if you’re not even hungry.
This is how social proof is extremely effective in driving sales and building trust among customers.
Social proof is a powerful marketing strategy and devoting a section solely for customers’ reviews on your home page is another tactic for visual selling and merchandising; people need to see what others are saying about you.
Extra Tip: If you filtered customers’ reviews and kept only the good ones, new visitors won’t resonate greatly with them. They might get the feeling that they’re fake reviews from friends and family. People are different and it’s okay for some to not like one of your services or products.
However, you can take your best testimonials and reviews and share them on social media and other online platforms with a customizable review template.
On a store’s display window, you find the mannequin dressed in a complete outfit, with a bag in its hand, a scarf, a pair of matching eyeglasses, a summer hat, and some comfy sandals. Does the store sell all of these items together? No, this is bundling. You see it, you like it, you buy it all.
Product recommendations and “people who bought this also liked” sections on your website are the equivalent to bundling products together as part of visual merchandising techniques.
Marketing technologies, like pixels and codes, help you personalize these recommendations based on each user’s shopping history and preferences. Personalization makes customers feel special as if you’re talking directly to them.
Everyone shops; it's a necessity. And taking into consideration the latest events and the calls for social distancing, contactless shopping is highly favorable and the largest proportion of people are shifting towards online shopping.
As people are used to physical shops, you need your website to look and feel much the same so you can increase online sales and generate more and more new customers. Be sure to use the right strategies and website graphics to help you get there.