6 Merchandising and Promotion Hacks Top eCommerce Sites Are Using

Ellie Ho
Jun 7, 2024
3 min read

E-retailers are taking over brick-and-mortar business with a constant surge in the number of shoppers. This figure is projected to be a whopping 2.14 billion people by 2021. Still, it’s never an easy task to get online shoppers to hand over their hard-earned cash for an item they haven’t seen or felt in real life. Sadly, two-thirds of customers abandon their carts. This can be averted with better merchandising.

shares of ecommerce sales 2019 merchandising hacks
percentage of abandoned shopping carts 2019 merchandising hacks
E-retail sales will blossom in the next few years, but abandoned shopping carts are still a major problem for online stores (Source: Oberlo)

It’s no exaggeration to say online merchandising is the key to a successful eCommerce business. Take the biggest e-retailer - Amazon as an example. They saw 2-figure sales revenue gains from 2017 to 2019 because they know how to display the right products through the magic of merchandising.

Do you want to build a business like that?

Keep reading to discover 6 tactics that top eCommerce sites are using for product presentations in their sales campaigns.

Merchandising Strategies from the Sales Campaigns of Top eCommerce Sites

Optimize Your Product Filtering

Did you know that nearly 30% of online customers report getting frustrated when there’s no filter to narrow search results? Shoppers pay a great deal of attention to filtering. Only a fool would miss a chance to take advantage of this.

Using the Merchandising tool, you can decide which items will be shown first, and which can be relegated to the bottom.

This is much better than the default sorting option usually just lays out products in alphabetical order.Obviously, that is not a good way to promote best-selling merchandise. A smart move would be to change it to sort by popularity or recommendation like H&M does.

default sorting by popularity hm merchandising hacks example
The default sorting option on H&M’s website is “Recommended”, which sorts by popularity (Source: H&M)

Another great practice of H&M is to place “New Arrival” items on top of any collection. Up to  69% of shoppers look forward to seeing new merchandise they visit an e-store.

More tips and tricks on How to build the best filter and navigation using a Shopify app

Statistics drawn up from 1.4 billion eCommerce visits worldwide point out that 75% of monthly site search queries are brand new. This indicates an innate preference for the latest products in stock.

product arragenment hm merchandising hacks
By putting just-in products on the front line, H&M lives up to the expectations of two-thirds of digital shoppers (Source: H&M)

If you have more than 10 filter groups, the rule of thumb is to collapse facet groups by default. This way, the filter tree doesn’t take up the entire vertical sidebar. A “show more” button also works well when there are multiple filter options.

Upgrade the Search Bar and the Search Function

You should also improve your search function to accommodate merchandising. By including bestsellers on top of the search results page, the shoe e-retailer, FootSmart, boosted their conversions by 82%. That’s impressive!

footsmart merchandising example
FootSmart succeeded in lifting their conversion rate by putting best-selling items on top of the search results (Source: FootSmart)

With the Merchandising feature of Boost Product Filter & Search, you can alter the product listing with ease via Product ranking and Rule-based merchandising. The former gives you five options to rearrange a given product. The latter, as the name implies, allows rule-setting based on attributes like title, type, vendor, and date added. This creates group promotion on the search result page.

Visit our Help Center to learn more about these powerful tools.

Unlike pop-up stores, there is no shop assistant for online customers to go to for help. That’s why up to 30% of them begin by searching for a specific product as soon as they land on an eCommerce store.

Top eCommerce sites usually have a noticeable search bar on top with a magnifying glass icon. This is a conventional position, so customers can easily locate where to type their product query.

search bar conventional position merchandising hacks
Despite different presentations, the position of these brands’ site search bars is always prominent to users. (Source: Mavi, Red Dress, Linneys)

Some brands push shoppers to look for a product by adding text to the search space. An important note here is to be creative and trendy with the text and never make customers delete it before beginning a search string.

Let’s see what the Louis Vuitton search bar says when Father's Day is just around the corner.

search bar with text louis vuitton merchandising hack
The text in the search space can be a means of communicating with your customers if you are trendy and creative like Louis Vuitton. (Source: Louis Vuitton)

Make On-site Promotion Easy-to-spot

Shoppers are naturally attracted to promotions, according to a science-backed study by Claremont Graduate University. The number of digital coupons redeemed worldwide almost doubled between 2014 and 2019.

The conversion rate of on-site visitors who engaged in an online promotion was far higher than that of unengaged browsers.

conversion rate of engaged vs unengaged shoppers
Customers who engaged in an on-site promotion are more likely to convert than those who don’t. (Source: BigCommerce)

It’s always worth highlighting sales promotions and discount campaigns.

The best way to draw shoppers’ attention to your incentives is to use a hello-bar or slide-in popup on your homepage and product pages. Take Kennedy Blue as an example.

hello bar example kennedy blue merchandising hacks
A great example of a hello-bar, which boosted sales by 50%, on Kennedy Blue (Source: OptinMonster)

They used a dark blue floating bar, which contrasted with the pastel background, to grab browsers' attention. A Countdown Timer and a discount notice along with highly visible text entice customers to make a purchase by drawing on their fear of missing out.

In fact, the sales campaign was a huge success, with a 50% surge in total purchases.

Zara goes the extra mile by using a welcome mat. Visitors will need to close the popup to continue shopping, so there’s no way they skip the sales promotion.

welcome mat zara merchanding hacks
With an entry overlay, shoppers can’t miss the sale information (Source: Zara)

Show Trendy Products and Collections As Featured

Showing products on the homepage is a norm for eCommerce stores. It gives the online retailers a space to display promoted products just like decorating and arranging for a real store.

Still, don’t just bombard your visitors with a bunch of pictures.

You can take online merchandising to the next level by combining a collection grid with featured products.

Look at the homepage of Adidas below.

featured product example adidas merchandising hacks
Adidas followed the trend of the global outbreak by featuring face masks. (Source: Adidas)

After the hero image slides come four collection grids. They not only cover the most important product categories but also give a sneak peek of Best Sellers and New Arrivals. These are two things that online shoppers are most curious about.

The collection row is followed by highlights from two seasonal collections. During COVID-19, Nike showcased its face covers in both featured collections and featured products.

Such a great catch of the latest trend!

At the end of the homepage, featured products are listed with concise information. The highlight here is the little heart icon to allow customers to add the trending products to a wish list in the blink of an eye.

On the Shopify platform, you can easily integrate the wishlist function to your product listing using a third-party app like WishlistKing or Smart Wishlist. These are the most asked-for when it comes to integration with Shopify filter app (Boost)

Use an AI Chatbot for Product Recommendations

The rise of AI and NLP has revolutionized the human-operated live chat to become an automated chatbot.

The chatbot is now a powerful assistant of eCommerce businesses with the ability to answer up to 80% of routine questions, saving 30% of the cost of customer support.

On the Shopify App Store, Facebook Messenger ranked #3 alongside the ‘Buy Now’ feature in the list of free apps to bolster online revenue.

SkinnyMe Tea is a pioneer in integrating the chatbot to your e-store. The homepage has the easy-to-spot icon of Messenger in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen.

chatbot website skinny me tea merchandising hacks
The SkinnyMe Tea website is integrated with Messenger chatbot (Source: Sumo)

When clicking on the icon, visitors are transferred to a customized sales funnel set up on Facebook Messenger.

The next step is the “Shop Now” option, which brings up the product catalog. Now all shoppers have to do is click, click, click, and buy.

Shopify’s checkout portal will automatically save the purchase even though your customers haven’t left Messenger.

chatbot website skinny me tea merchandising hacks
It’s a much easier and far more intuitive to purchase a product on Chatbot (Source: Sumo)

Another massive advantage of the chatbot system is mobile-friendliness. Mobile commerce volume is expected to scale to $488.0 billion by 2024, a whopping 44% of eCommerce, according to Business Insider. The Messenger chatbot is perfect for product recommendations on handheld devices.

It’s so responsive and intuitive to tap and buy on Messenger that LEGO’s chatbot is the driving force behind 25% of the company’s sales on social media. The conversion rate of LEGO via auto chat is 8.4 times higher than Facebook Ads. This has helped the company cut down its cost per conversion by 31%.

Ralph, the AI-powered chatbot of LEGO, has made huge strides in online sales thanks to product recommendations based on demographics (Source: Digital Marketing Community)

With approximately 47% of online shoppers likely to complete a purchase on chat, it’s prime time to invest in building a chatbot for your eCommerce store.

Convert Browsers into Customers with Auto Recommendation

If brick-and-mortar retailers have the “window shopping” concept, then e-stores have the so-called “browsers”, who visit an eCommerce website without a specific product in mind. When they don’t intend to buy anything, can you convert them into buyers?

The answer is, without a doubt, yes. You can still spark a sale with browsers using Auto Recommendation.

Amazon has long been using this strategy. They attract the “just-looking” shoppers by promoting product categories.

auto recommendation amazon merchandising hacks
Amazon is an old fox when it comes to using auto recommendation - and it still works. (Source: Amazon)

The same can be said of LEGO’s online store. But the toy brand recommends specific merchandise rather than collections or categories. This approach is more direct and actually drags the shoppers out of the browsing mindset.

auto recommendation lego merchandising hacks
Specific product recommendations may immediately trigger a purchase but also risk being off-track. (Source: LEGO)

However, it is a double-edged sword as the recommendations may not match the customers’ interest. Our advice is to recommend just-in products and very distinctive items (like the “hard to find” label on the LEGO website). Better to play it safe here.

The homepage is not the only place you should place Auto Recommendation. It’s also a great idea to cross-sell related items while customers are viewing a product.

In the case of Banana Republic, they use a visual aid in the section “Wear It With” to prompt shoppers to purchase the entire set instead of just a single item.

product recommendation product page banana republic example
Product recommendations with images are the best tactic to cross-sell for fashion stores. (Source: Banana Republic)

A Few Last Words

As Morris Hite said: “Advertising moves people towards goods; merchandising moves goods towards people”. Online promotions with optimized eCommerce merchandising make a perfect combo to build a bridge between customers and products, thereby lifting your conversion rate.

Digital merchandising can be as simple as redesigning your homepage. Still, further steps such as changing product orders in the search results offer a more impressive impact. Thus, you should find a plug-in for eCommerce that improves your search function as well as enables you to modify the product arrangement.

Check out our Boost Product Filter & Search app to experience these advanced merchandising features in your store. And stay tuned for our next lesson from the biggest names in eCommerce.

Ellie Ho
Content Marketing Specialist
June 29, 2024
6 min read