Merchandising is promoting an item for sale through an effective presentation. In many retail stores, designers will showcase furniture in vignettes and room scene displays. This is a literal example of merchandising inside of a retail store. You’re combining related or complementary pieces to entice sales. But how does that impact digital merchandising solutions in your store?
Merchandising sells a story through product presentation. What was once a lone dining room table transforms into the centerpiece of a large family gathering with bench-option seating and upholstered wingback chairs for the heads of the family. Your showroom should tell a story. And your website should tell the same story.
What is Digital Merchandising?
Digital merchandising takes this concept of merchandising into a digital space—your website. But you’ll do a lot more than taking a great picture of that same showroom dining room set. Digital merchandising uses the products on your website and creates product groups based on different variables. In some instances, this can happen automatically with artificial intelligence. In most scenarios, digital product merchandising comes from some manual effort. Ready to read about techniques in digital product merchandising?
Digital merchandising your home furnishings products creates a new way to sell your products through other channels and tell these product stories online. And for many retailers in the furniture industry, digital merchandising offers more flexibility and options for retailers to group and showcase products without the time and resources to restage over and over.
In the online setting, your website, digital merchandising solutions are critical. You don’t have a salesperson online who can walk up at the perfect time to answer questions and close the sale. Digital merchandising retail strategies reduce distractions because they align with how today’s shoppers buy online and find local stores to visit in person.
Merchandising itself creates a sense of enjoyment that isn’t just reserved for in-person shopping. And as a home furnishings retailer, that enjoyment leads to increased sales and average order value (AOV).
Trends are shifting to support data-backed merchandising. John Hoke of Nike put it best, “The future of retail is going to be less fixed, more fluid, and hyper-responsive to consumer trends and needs.”
Let’s explore some effective strategies for digital merchandising solutions retail eCommerce and why the digital catalog is the centerpiece of any plan to increase sales online and in the showroom.
Techniques to Master Digital Merchandising
Digital merchandising can range from simple to very complicated. After 25 years in home furnishings, we’ve seen techniques that work and ones that don’t work. While this is not a comprehensive list, here are some methods to begin your journey to digital merchandising.
The first step to digital merchandising is getting your website infrastructure ready. You can’t build a product group if you don’t have the products to support it. Product catalogs are critical for your website infrastructure. Many retailers manage this initiative manually. Other retailers don’t show products online at all.
Showing products from your vendors doesn’t mean you’re on the road to ecommerce with no brakes. The perception is online catalog data requires ecommerce or even pricing your online items. Consider that myth busted.
Companies like MicroD are focused on helping retailers reduce the manual intervention of collecting and updating furniture product data. Want to see what it includes? Click here to talk with our specialists.
A great website platform will handle some of the most basic digital merchandising solutions for you. On the product page, you can highlight visually similar items or items in the same collection based on product data. If you don’t have the right kind of data about each product, this is incredibly challenging. Which, again, is why updated complete product data is critical.
Once you’ve connected your vendors’ product lines into your website, now you can start building a digital merchandising solutions strategy.
Creating Digital Merchandising Product Groups
There are many ways to showcase your digital merchandising on the website. Some retailers use product tags like “Best Seller” or “New Product” to group SKUs together. This is a great strategy to reach the trend-finder shopper online.
We’ve also seen success for retailers who use landing pages to list products of certain brands. For example, if you are trying to promote the new line from Hooker Furniture, you can create a landing page that showcases products from that collection. Manufacturers are exceptional in creating collections that complement one another. And if your store finds that a certain accessories brand complements the new Hooker Furniture collection, you would combine these elements on the same landing page.
Digital merchandising solutions can also improve your results with slow sellers. You can pair the best sellers and slow sellers together to create a digital vignette of products. As you tell the story digitally with the presentation of the products, you create a connection between all of the products and the customer.
Use your designers to collaborate on product groups. Some of the basics should derive from product data and analytics. But your website pages should have a design element incorporating a designer’s suggestion for products that fit well together.
Shoppers of every generation are inspired by the inspirational “Instagramification” of shopping. We want to see how products could look together. Many of us don’t have the “designer’s eye” to imagine this accent table with that sofa. So encourage your designers to compile products from your website together in a designer tear sheet.
And share it on social media. All of your work in digital merchandising solutions should live around the web. Social media is the fastest way to share and consume.
There is only so much space on your showroom floor. And your staff doesn’t want to revamp the floor displays every week for every new type of customer. One technique to improve digital merchandising is to use it in the store. Confused?
As clients are walking around in the store, your sales staff can access in-store kiosks or tablets and show more options to clients. If some of the displays are less appealing to a certain customer type, you can showcase limitless options on your website through the tablet.
Digital merchandising has many benefits which we’ll cover later in this article. But one unsung feature is experiential shopping. Holistic retail combines the online and offline world. Tablets with access to your retail website can quickly connect the in-store shopper with online options for personalization.
Use Data to Improve Results
Fluidity in retail is the way to thrive online and in-store. Digital merchandising solutions require analytics to make better decisions. While your team of designers is the source of inspiration, you need customer feedback.
One helpful technique to optimizing digital merchandising is reviewing analytics. For retailers who work with MicroD, we provide platform data to highlight which products are most popular. If you find that multiple products are best sellers, use that data to merchandise with slow sellers. Your product groups can and should change based on how effective the results are. Make sure that you’re reviewing the product groups that get more attention but less action in the cart.
Benefits of Digital Merchandising
Digital merchandising connects shoppers to your store in a meaningful way. It offers the online personalization that shoppers covet.
Personalized Shopping Experiences
To personalize a customer experience in a brick-and-mortar store, you need that one-on-one attention of your best salesperson. It works in-store, but it’s hard to scale, especially online.
But online you offer this same one-on-one attention differently by customizing the customer’s experience based on what you know about them. By collecting data and using tools that track pages they visit, you can show them the products, styles, and deals that really speak to their pain points or interests.
Customers buy furniture for function. But they also want to express their personal taste. The more you show that you understand them, the more they’ll trust your recommendations.
For example, if you have a “value shopper” on your site, showing them that luxury living room set that you really want to push this quarter wouldn’t make sense. That big-ticket order isn’t aligned with the customer. And when you’re not relevant to the customer, you don’t get the sale.
Assuming you cater to a broader range of customers, show them items they’ll actually buy.
Don’t be afraid to collect the data you need to create this experience. While data privacy remains a concern and people want to know how you use their data, 73% of consumers prefer working with retailers who collect data to personalize, increase relevancy and make their experience more convenient.
But how does all of this individualization in digital merchandising solutions retail transform the customer’s experience on your site?
Creating a Dynamic Website
Your retail store changes from season to season. Brick and mortar retailers in every industry use merchandising to create a fresh in-store experience. So why would you ignore this process on your website?
Recreating a new homepage doesn’t completely revamp how customers experience your website. But using digital merchandising solutions that change create a dynamic website experience. By reviewing data and improving the digital merchandising pages, you can entice returning visitors as much as first-time website visitors—but with added loyalty.
Increasing In-store Sales
Furniture only accounts for 12% of the total online purchases. In the US, nearly 50% of home furnishings sales still happen in-store. Why is this when almost every other industry has gone so digital? Furniture is large and quite an investment. It’s hard to return to an online vendor. Many still want to see it in person before they buy.
That’s great news for the brick-and-mortar. But there’s a catch. Increasingly, whether buying a new sofa or patio set, the customer’s journey begins online. Nearly 90% of people read reviews online when they’re in the market. Over 50% of website traffic comes in through searches. And digital merchandising is great for SEO.
Over 70% of people who visit a local website will be in the physical store within 24 hours. Digital merchandising gives you the online presence you need to drive foot traffic to your door. Without an online presence today, it’s hard for people to find your business. And an online presence today is more than a website.
Finding Digital Merchandising Solutions
Digital merchandising is imperative for all brick and mortar retailers. This initiative could be very simple or very complex. Use your best judgment in building a strategy for digital merchandising your furniture store. Reach out to your vendors to find out what information they can provide to you. If someone else has already put in the effort, you can maximize your investment in the vendor by repurposing.
But digital merchandising takes time and resources.
MicroD specializes in expanding your furniture business’ presence online and in the community through the use of advanced tools and enhanced manufacturer-retailer partnerships. We can help you with our platform that enables digital merchandising basics for retailers.
To learn more about how we can help you, reach out to share where you’d like to see your business in the near future and years from now. We can help you get there.