Merchandising [mur-chuh n-dahy-zing] is the planning and promotion of sales by presenting a product to the right market at the proper time, by carrying out organized, skillful advertising, using attractive displays, etc. In eCommerce, merchandising emulates many of the tried-and-true practices of brick-and-mortar retailing, yet has the advantage of technology that helps segment, personalize, and measure the impact, thereby making it much more effective.
The most important arrow in your merchandising quiver is eCommerce site search. Just like a customer who enters a store and immediately asks the associate for a particular item, a customer who searches your site manifests a clear intention to buy. Don’t blow it. Think of your advanced site search as the professional retail-store associate who helps customers find what they want, recommends similar products, and helps the sale without being pushy.
Here are 3 Merchandising Tips using advanced Site Search techniques for Shopify stores.
1. Make your Shopify SEARCH BOX VISIBLE
Shopify has a wide collection of beautiful store themes. Often however, due to page design or theme considerations, search becomes a small magnifying glass icon that is hardly noticeable to the eye. When your retail associate is hiding in the basement, customers would simply walk out the store without asking any question because they could not find whom to ask. Customers who search are probably your most important customers – because they came to buy. Make your search visible so that people can use it.
Maker Shed ‘s clear, visible search box helps customers find what they want
2. Use CONTEXTUAL PROMOTIONS through rich autocomplete
Your users are conditioned by Google to expect autocompletion that predicts their search query as they type it. People assume that if you can predict what they are asking, quickly identifying the problem they are trying to solve, then you must have the answer. This is why marketing focuses on problems and aspirations rather than the actual solution…
In eCommerce, this concept extends not only to suggesting the search query but also suggesting the best-fit products. When a user selects a recommended product, she lands on the product page, and can click the Buy button without going through a results page. This accelerates the purchase cycle and increases conversion. If she selects a popular query rather than a recommended product, she would get to a result page for that query without the need to type the entire product name. This implicitly assures the user that she is not the only one searching this query.
But the beauty of advanced autocomplete is not only in the instant engagement of the user, and instilling trust, but also in CONTEXUAL PROMOTIONS. Say for example, that you have a shoe store, where you want to promote a particular item today – i.e. Adidas XLS 30. With CONTEXTUAL PROMOTION, you can target users who start typing “Adidas”, and present them the “Adidas XLS 30” product at the top of the dropdown list. This is a perfect targeting strategy, as it promotes a product only to the people that may find it relevant:
The base Shopify search does not include autocomplete. If you don’t have an autocomplete app – get one. Make sure it lets you engage users through popular search suggestions, product suggestions, and CONTEXTUAL PROMOTIONS.
3. Add FILTERS to help users narrow down their search
Contrary to the visitor who comes to buy a specific product in mind, there are those who have a general idea of what they want, but not an exact product in mind. That’s why in retail store, you have signs to show you into a particular department, gender, brand, etc. Similarly, in eCommerce, many shoppers like to start with a broad search, and then narrow it down, using filters or facets. Faceted search sounds more sophisticated and professional, but it is basically the same thing as filters…
Earth Led is using dynamic filters to help customers search its rich LED lighting selection
The challenge is the Shopify does not come with built-in search filters. You can either have them custom developed for your store, as part of overall navigation. Or, you can use them as a part of your search app. There are pros and cons to each option. As its name suggests, custom development is both flexible and expensive. You can have filters of various shapes, color, and placement on screen. The more unconventional and elaborate – the more expensive it will be. An app on the other hand, would not be as flexible in terms of filter shape and placement, however it would be inexpensive as it is already a part of the search app. Another advantage of a search app is that filters are dynamically generated and display only the relevant filters per the actual search query. This is particularly important on mobile devices where display real estate is scarce. Regardless of what your choice may be – add filters to your search to help users narrow down their choices and convert to buyers.
About the Author: Zohar Gilad is the Co-Founder and CEO of InstantSearch+ – a service that brings state-of-the-art ecommerce search at an affordable cost to millions of merchants worldwide.