Visuals help people retain information up to 55% more effectively. Therefore, if you want your business’s products to be top-of-mind for consumers, you must have a visual merchandising strategy in place.
Visual merchandising is often only considered applicable to offline retailers. Shop windows and in-store displays both rely heavily on this marketing technique. However, this mindset and the methodology behind helping products sell themselves through visual means can easily translate to the online space.
As a small business you may not have that many products to sell, but that can be an advantage. You can ensure that whatever you are selling online is showcased in the best way possible. The following are some points to consider when planning visual merchandising practices for your online store.
Video is now the norm
Video content is by far the most crucial implementation you can bring in to increase your conversion rate. 54% of consumers want businesses to include video in their wider content strategies but doing so can be challenging for smaller businesses.
With video, it’s important to make sure it looks professional. Otherwise, customers will be left with a bad first impression that may harm their opinion of the product itself.
With that being said, the latest smartphones have video capabilities that are often underutilised. Modern phones can record in at least 1080p HD quality, with some even being able to use the latest in 4K filming technology.
This means you may not need professional DSLR cameras to get some quick product videos created. Ensure you use a tripod to get a stable video and, if you can, get the product in a real-world location and situation.
Videos like this help consumers to visualise the product in their hands. They will consider how it could fit into their wider lifestyle, making them more likely to click ‘buy’. Studies show adding video to a landing page can increase conversion rates by up to 86%.
We implemented video on some of our top performing product pages, as you can see in this contact lens example, in addition to the existing imagery. Our approach was based on ‘unboxing’ videos to provide an honest account of what our products look like, as well as offering a different kind of media to users.
As a business competing against much larger and longer-established brands, we have to be transparent in everything we do, and this is key when showcasing products in any format.
Shoppable video is on the horizon
Shoppable video may seem like a futuristic concept, but a video that allows users to click the products within it and then purchase them is available right now. This is the closest users can currently get get to an in-store visual merchandising experience on their devices.
The technology is becoming more accessible every day, and it won’t be long before SMEs are able to use it cheaply in order to showcase their goods and remove the number of steps required to purchase.
This is worth researching now due to the fact that those who decide to incorporate the technology could be at the forefront of what is going to become a shoppable revolution.
Video allows for audio engagement
Visual merchandisers will consider how the layout of a store affects a customer’s senses. As well as vision, they will consider hearing. The audio on your video needs to be engaging and is a unique opportunity to create a relationship with the user which you would not be able to do with product imagery alone.
If your product has its own audio, showcase it. Ensure you have good quality sound recording equipment and that it is produced accordingly. If your audio is too loud this is going to particularly affect those using headphones.
Audio is easy to produce for items such as kids toys but for anything else that doesn’t make a sound, you need to consider exactly what audio you are going to present alongside your product.
Audio for product videos often comes in the form of music. The tracks are typically upbeat and are, importantly, copyright and royalty-free.
In-store visual merchandisers will have different music dependent upon store location and time of day. Ecommerce retailers don’t have such a luxury, therefore the music you choose must be applicable 24/7, 365 days a year.
Music can often encourage emotional responses, so ensure yours reflects how you want users to feel when engaging with your product.
Photography is not simple
You need to assess the creative capabilities of your team for photography, and any other form of digital media.
It’s often better, in the long run, to hire freelancers or a dedicated creative production company to create high-quality imagery and video instead of you wasting internal resource, time and effort in creating a substandard representation of your products.
A trained photographer will consider how products look as a whole, but also detailed items like colour, angles and symmetry. It’s an art for a reason.
If you’re looking to keep costs down, perhaps you could find an opportunity to work with a graduate or even a final year photography student. They will have some skills and will want to build up their portfolio so it can be a mutually beneficial relationship.
This is not, however, an opportunity to get free labour from those who need the money most. It’s just a cheaper alternative.
Consider whether it may be better to pay more now for professionals rather than having to replace poor imagery later on down-the-line.
When using photography for product imagery, you should also consider all the practical elements. For example, high-resolution imagery, if not implemented correctly, will slow your site down and decrease the quality of the user’s journey.
Use compression tools and plugins to ensure your photos are looking their best without affecting your site. With site speed being a key factor affecting conversion rates, this should be a priority regardless of visual merchandising.
Showcase your brand effectively
Perhaps the most important aspect of visual merchandising is creating the connection between your brand and the product you are selling.
Stores do this through their branded shopping bags and in-store displays, utilising brand colours, designs and logos. You can create the same effect online through website design, especially on product pages.
Ensure your brand logo is present throughout the customer’s journey. If you are providing a product video, it may be beneficial to provide an unboxing of your own branded shipping materials. Placing the logo in the product imagery is also acceptable, as long as it does not stop users from seeing the details of the item.
Clothing brands cleverly do this by showcasing the labels on the actual products, often found with jacket and coat retailers.
Larger brands like ASOS always ensure the brand is the first term in the title of the product and the imagery will often have closeups of the branded labels, this is a tactic often utilised by smaller retailers to build their brand.
This also forms a secondary effect when users screenshot the products to share, or save for later, the branding is immediately present pointing people straight back to the site.
These considerations all contribute to users associating your brand with specific products. Therefore, if they decide to purchase at a later date, your efforts should encourage them to return directly to the site, rather than shopping around.
About the author
This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Nimesh Shah, MD at Feel Good Contacts, a contact lens retailer based in London. The business, which was started in 2008 by optometrists, is always focusing on their digital strategy.
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