Use real-time data to ensure you’re showing online shoppers the items they want now.

Linda Bustos, director of merchant strategy, Workarea Commerce

Linda Bustos, director of merchant strategy, Workarea Commerce

More than any time of year, the key to maximizing revenue at the holiday season is to place the right products in the right places throughout your site. Shoppers have even shorter attention spans this time of year and they’re browsing an endless number of sites.

This coming holiday season, you can join the herd of retailers on the discount train or you can follow a sound strategy of appropriately merchandising products on your site. Let’s face it, a race to the bottom will certainly not see generate impressive year-over-year revenue numbers. And if you think one is far more difficult than the other, you’ll be surprised.

The truth is discounts alone don’t convince customers to buy. We’ve all passed up on tremendous coupon codes and offers when there was nothing on the site we wanted.

You may have the product a customer wants, but if they can’t find it on your site you might as well not have it.

Real-time merchandising uses data to respond to customer behavior. When done right, you’ll help customers quickly find more of what they want, turn over seasonal merchandise more profitably, match competitors’ offers with agility, and increase ROI for top-of-funnel spend.

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We now know that for every $92 spent acquiring customers, only $1 is spent converting them (Econsultancy, 2016). You may have the product a customer wants, but if they can’t find it on your site you might as well not have it.

For retail marketers, whenever “conversion optimization” comes up they typically think of A/B testing. Ahead of any seasonal peak, testing layouts and cart buttons should be completed. The truth is A/B testing doesn’t drive revenue nearly as much as merchandising optimization can. After running A/B tests for months, you’re lucky if you see a single-digit lift.

At Workarea, we’ve witnessed several customers achieve double-digit revenue growth using the following four merchandising tactics.

Four Tips for Real-time Merchandising

First up, optimize product ranking in your most-trafficked categories and searches. The goal of the product list is to win a click-through to a product, and you can get higher click-through, engagement, and eventually conversion when categories and searches are optimized. To do this, put on your holiday shopper hat and make sure the right products are appearing first.

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Next, manually audit your highest-volume site searches. Do this since your analytics report can’t tell you if the customer experience is any good, or point out products you should be rearranging or even removing from results. You also want to look at most-abandoned searches—you can find this in Google Analytics. Quick tip: Save sales by correcting “zero results found” pages. As an online merchandiser, it’s your job to present alternative products and capture that customer just like when a brick-and-mortar salesperson hands you a similar item.

Workarea Commerce NoResultsThird, look for opportunities you glanced over during pre-season planning; there are always several. If your site carries a hot item, add it to your top-level navigation or place a content slot within a mega-menu.

Workarea Commerce FootlockerYou can also use trending category data to reorder featured categories on your home page. Of course, your ability to add fresh content to menus depends on your e-commerce platform, as well as the speed and control you have to make such changes (IT dependencies).

Fourth, explore strategies for merchandising trending products. Start by setting tried-and-true products as the thumbnail images for your category thumbnails. Seeing low click-throughs on a category? Give it a quick makeover by replacing the main image with something more eye-catching or relevant. Additionally, insert “best seller” or “staff pick” badges to product listings, as that little piece of persuasion can trigger a click. Workarea Commerce Ulta-BadgesFinally, follow best practices for “zero results found” pages by adding a “you may also like” content block. You found the coveted buyer intent + search combo, don’t lose them.

Making the most of real-time product data this holiday season isn’t a luxury for retailers, it’s a must. Increase those product click-throughs through a combination of solid merchandising, staying on top of customer data, and responding fast.

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Workarea Commerce is the e-commerce platform introduced in February 2017 by technology provider Weblinc.

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