Searchandising is the combination of the terms “search” and “merchandising” (and, no, we didn’t come up with the term!). It’s the process of curating on-site search results to help your customers discover important products on your website as they’re shopping.
In fact, it’s not just search that can be merchandised. The same technology that powers your on-site search engine can be used to deliver merchandising to your dynamic catalogue or collections pages. Online merchandisers are already putting a lot of effort into content, product visibility, collection curation, and product presentation. With searchandising, that effort can be leveraged against both search results and category pages to deliver a consistent, branded experience.
We think searchandising should be on every retailer’s radar this year as a way to step up their online merchandising efforts. In this article, I’ll share a bit more about the concepts and three ways to leverage searchandising on your site.
From brick and mortar to online
In brick and mortar stores, merchandising is well understood. You can build window displays, assemble in-store product arrangements, or display signage to help sell more products – be it for a special sale, to reduce inventory, or show off new arrivals.
Online retailers devote a lot of time and effort to designing their sites. Putting items in a certain order, developing appealing landing pages, or choosing particular products or brands to advertise are all examples of this. The search bar and search results on the website are another location for merchandising. On average, 43 per cent of e-commerce visitors go straight to the search bar after arriving on a website, making it a smart target for merchandising.
With that introduction, let’s look at three searchandising strategies you might implement this year.
Curating search and category page results
Just like the brick and mortar experience, merchandisers can control the digital customer experience so that curated products are displayed to users – whether they’re browsing through product categories or performing an on-site search.
You can show results in the order you choose to improve your site’s conversion rate, boost customer experience, and enhance your brand from the moment someone lands on your site.
For example, if you’re a clothing retailer, you may want to create a curation category for “summer dresses”. This way, when customers search for “dresses,” they’ll see your curated selection of summer dresses before search results for other kinds of dresses. The actual page layout can be whatever fits your brand, but the products displayed on the page can be curated for each campaign or personalised for visitors (as I’ll show below).
Dynamic searchandising with machine learning
In the scenario above, I described how you can curate results manually and display them in whatever design aligns with your site’s brand strategy. If you know exactly what you want to merchandise, manual curation makes a lot of sense. However, what if you have five or 10 items that could be promoted in a certain category. Which one should go first?
This is where machine learning can help. Machine learning algorithms can leverage your business data – sales, popularity, ratings, margin, signups, etc – to learn to rank results in an optimal order.
For example, you might have 10 products in your “summer dresses” campaign. Search AI will order and rank results that are most likely to sell during this season based on their popularity, margin, or whatever criteria you choose. This is one way merchandising can be more data-driven to increase site conversions.
Personalisation and searchandising
The third way to use searchandising is search personalisation. By leveraging the data you’ve collected about your customers, you can deliver different search results and merchandising for individual shoppers.
For example, imagine that a customer has added a product to their cart but hasn’t completed the purchase. You might show them a message encouraging them to complete their purchase, or suggest a curated product to complement their order.
If you have a rewards membership program, you can merchandise products to the program using user profile attributes.
You can personalise results even if your visitors haven’t logged in. Just by knowing geo or using seasonality, you can dynamically order product results or curate landing pages.
E-commerce is showing no signs of slowing down this year. Your website’s search box is an untapped asset for extending your merchandising campaigns to visitors. As you seek to expand and improve your online sales and conversions, be sure to have another look at searchandising and how to curate results, boost conversions with machine learning, and leverage personalisation.