How to use personalized merchandising to win more customers

How to use personalized merchandising to win more customers

THE Personalized merchandising remains one of the most important factors in increasing conversions for online sellers. The shift to online shopping hasn’t changed the fact that people shop with their eyes. Therefore, deciding which products to display and how to display them will always be a critical skill that online retailers will need to master.

Today, machine learning-based artificial intelligence has made merchandising personalization possible. The ability to customize your store’s merchandising for each user is a real game changer. It is therefore not surprising that many online retailers have already invested in the necessary infrastructure for this purpose.

However, it’s easier to achieve all the value of a capability such as merchandising customization. It is still the marketer’s responsibility to apply technology intelligently to drive conversions, improve user experience and build loyalty. Let’s take a look at some of the most effective ways to increase the effectiveness of personalized merchandising for online retailers.

The balance to be found

Online retailers unfamiliar with real-time or personalized merchandising often struggle to create a user-centric storefront without compromising product discovery.

Sure, you want your storefront to feature products related to your customers’ past purchases (or browsing behavior you’ve tracked), but you also want to make it easy and rewarding for your customers to discover products they’ve never seen before. Providing ecommerce recommendations based on past purchases is easy. On the other hand, deciding which products to include in your “product discovery sections” can be a little more complicated. How to choose whether to display cheap personalized bags, shoes or jewelry? How do you know what the Internet user wants to see?

The first step to simplifying this process is to create a set of simple categories for your products, based on user behavior and sales data. For example, let’s start with three categories, namely: “most searched”, “best sellers of the week” and “low traffic but high converting articles”. Our category choices will be limited by the data we have to support them, but in the case of these three categories, we should be able to identify products that fit into them using the most basic Google Analytics data or sales metrics.

Now we can promote product discovery by creating spaces on our site specifically to showcase products in these categories. Naturally, a personalization AI will decide exactly which products will be featured, but we maintain control over where and when the user will see them. This approach makes it much easier to ensure your customers see enough of what we think they want to see, while giving them the opportunity to try products they don’t even know they’re seeing.

Great opportunities for merchandising customization

Your product recommendation engine probably does some of the most useful work on your homepage, and when a customer explores a particular product category, it makes sense to show them the color or style options that your data suggests they might prefer. These are some of the most obvious places where custom merchandising can and should be applied. Now let’s look at some possibilities that are a little more off the beaten path.

Dynamic featured images

It’s unfair to only attribute a featured image to a product category, given the huge influence they have on click-through rates. So why not assign featured images dynamically, based on the latest data? The easiest way to do this is to use the products at the top of the “trending products” list as featured images for each category.

No search results page

Presenting a page with zero search results is a make or break situation. If you don’t do everything you can to retain a customer, chances are they will leave. Even if your site can’t make semantic suggestions on pages with zero search results, you can add something like a “trending products” feed to fill the void, in the hope that something will catch the customer’s attention.

Product recommendations in mega menus

Mega menus that give the customer an “exploded view” of subcategories or product types are perfect for helping the customer get where they want to go with as few clicks as possible. That’s exactly what makes it the perfect place for some custom merch. If your personalization AI is smart enough to guess what a customer might be looking for while browsing your mega menu, you have a great opportunity to recommend that product. Use a small product image with a brief description of the benefits, and choose a location that doesn’t interfere with the menu options.

Personalized merchandising is perhaps the most important factor in creating an online shopping experience that feels truly tailor-made for each shopper. Fortunately, the technology that makes this possible is now more accessible than ever.

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