Merchandising strategies for the Web

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Merchandising strategies for the Web
Merchandising strategies for the Web

Great marketing techniques will drive traffic to your Web site, but if customers can't find products they wish to purchase, they'll go away disappointed. Here are five sure-fire Web merchandising strategies.

First, know your customers and anticipate their needs. Never forget that as a merchant, your goal is to find products that suit your audiences' likes and wants, not yours. Think about what they have purchased and for whom. If you know your shoppers are older women, an afghan that says "Grandma is the Best" is not as good as one that says, "A Granddaughter is a Precious Gift." The older shopper is more likely to buy a sentimental item for her grandchild than for herself or for another grandmother.

Next, understand that you're selling more than a product; you're selling a solution. Whether the problem is messy closets, disorganized drawers or unruly garden hoses, before and after images create an effective visual solution. Combine powerful images with copy that drives the problem-solving aspects home.

Also, mix and match products repeatedly and creatively. If men's gloves can be placed under both "apparel" and "gifts for the outdoorsman", then position them in both places. Don't forget to cross-sell by rotating additional merchandise that the shopper may also like. Keep an interesting selection of products and price points in front of the consumer.

It's good to take the time to search for products on your site to make sure shoppers can find them. Let's say you're selling garden gnomes and you search "yard" and "outdoor." Presumably, the gnomes will appear with other garden-related items. If they don't, then more synonyms and keywords need to be integrated into your site's search.

Finally, try to do the thinking for your customers. No one has time to peruse a Web site to find just the right present. Create gift-buying categories, such as "hard-to-shop-for," "sports enthusiast," "history buff" or "cook." Also, create categories by price point. If you integrate your merchandise in a meaningful way, your customers can cut to the chase.

hgioulis@harrietcarter.com

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