Digital Merchandising: 3 Ways to Get it Right

Have you mastered the art of digital merchandising on your eCommerce site?

Digital merchandising is a crucial part of a successful eCommerce business. It’s the secret to engaging your shoppers and guiding them towards making a purchase. When it’s done intelligently, your shoppers are not only more likely to buy the goods you’re promoting, but they’ll actually enjoy engaging with your digital store and handing over their hard earned money. For retailers that means significantly increased conversions and higher AOV.

Here are three critical elements to focus on in order to get digital merchandising right on your site:

1) Merchandise to your shoppers as individuals

It’s painfully obvious to shoppers when a site ignores their individual preferences. “I’m a woman, but I have no kids. Why does this site keep spamming me with children’s toys? It feels like they don’t even know me.” This kind of off-target merchandising kills the shopping experience and leaves the customer feeling like they should be spending their valuable time elsewhere.

Shoppers are looking to your products as a way to express their personalities and interests. The more your site picks up on these individual tastes and merchandises to them, the more engaged your shoppers become and the more likely it is that they will purchase something. For example, if a shopper has a strong preference for luxury items, it makes a lot more sense for a retailer to present them them with high-end designer jeans, rather than the garden variety “mom jeans”.

2) Encourage shopper discovery on your site

Presenting the same array of trending items to your visitors every time they land on your site does little to inspire anyone. What’s the use of shopping in the first place if a customer already knows what’s going to be merchandised to them?

Shopping is most fun when it involves a sense of discovery. The more you are able to promote new merchandise related to your shoppers’ personal tastes, the more they will return. For example,  a customer who’s interested in Star Wars will enjoy their shopping experience a lot more if they are presented with the latest “The Force Awakens” merchandise, rather than the perceived most popular “Frozen” princess dresses.

3) Use search as a digital merchandising tool

Rather than seeing your search as just a functional dictionary lookup tool, rethink it through the perspective of how a shopper might look for something in a brick and mortar scenario. Imagine asking an associate for help finding a sweater for yourself (the shopper). They’d lead you over to where sweaters are displayed and start pointing out some options based on your gender, style, and some of the things you’ve expressed. In other words, they’d help you discover merchandise that’s relevant and interesting to you. A shopper raising their hand and indicating they have a question is a great opportunity to pick up on their real-time interests and intent. This is true in both brick and mortar and eCommerce.

As a digital retailer, you can leverage the information a shopper is sharing when they search your site in much the same way that an associate can in a store. An example: A shopper types the words “s”, “h”, and “o” into your site’s search box. Rather than simply autofill with “shoes” or “shorts”, you can merchandise directly to her by immediately presenting images of the kinds of shoes and shorts that match her personal preferences — all within the moment she’s typing. That not only saves her the trouble of sorting through a long search-results page, it also makes her shopping experience more relevant and captivating.


If you want to engage and convert shoppers, you need to be good at merchandising. The ultimate test of whether you’re getting digital merchandising right is to put yourself in the shoes of your customers and answer one simple question: do I actually enjoy shopping on the site?

If the answer is yes, then congratulations. You are keeping your customers engaged by merchandising according to their individual personal preferences and you’re encouraging them to discover products that they’ll actually end up purchasing.

If the answer to that question is “no, my digital store is not an enjoyable shopping experience. I want to get off the site as soon as possible” then you’ll likely need to reexamine your approach to digital merchandising. You can start by tackling the three main points mentioned in this post.

Retailers who are getting digital merchandising right by focusing on their shoppers as individuals, encouraging shopper discovery, and using search as a merchandising tool are seeing engagement metrics raise by upwards of 70% and conversion rates lift by an average of 26%. To see some tangible examples, check out our case studies.

Stafford McKay

Stafford is the former Director of Content at Reflektion. He’s passionate about eCommerce Marketing, Technology, and Lake Michigan. When he’s not writing content, he can be found out on the water in the 1938 Chris Craft he shares with his family.