How to Give Your Online Store a Merchandising Makeover for the Holidays

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It’s the season for giving, and that means people are buying.

Your customers are looking to spread joy, and it’s time for you to ask how you can help them accomplish their mission. To do that, you'll want to pay attention to your merchandising, which is how you showcase your products. Think of ecommerce merchandising like your online store's equivalent to a brick and mortar store displaying its products in a carefully curated store window display. Both are integral parts of a store's success. And just as the "location location location" phrase works for brick and mortar stores, it now pertains to email inboxes, the web and other online avenues too.

To ensure your store's merchandising is at its most effective, first make sure your basics are covered:

Now that we have those basics out of the way (pretty easy, right?), here are a few tactics that will help drive your online sales further.

Identify key dates so you can prepare for them

We don't need a crystal ball to know what's headed our way. Every year, there are early holiday shoppers and last-minute shoppers, and every year, Cyber Monday posts increasingly astounding numbers. So to plan for these dates most effectively, you'll want to keep them in the forefront of your mind, even when they seem far away.

Here are some dates you should mark down:

Think about customer segments and how to address their needs

Instead of looking at your customers as one unit, break them out into groups and consider what sorts of special offers you can make to target each of these segments. For example, those last-minute shoppers will probably want expedited shipping (and be more willing to pay a pretty penny for it), while the early birds will be more concerned with saving money by getting started ahead of time. You can also try figuring out a way to entice a particular segment that might be drawn to certain products you sell.

Example segments:

Consider bundling popular items

In many cases, complimentary products sell well together. Whether it's because they support each other or they just look great as a pair, you'll want to advantage of their teamwork. One way you can do that is by offering an additional discount if the products are purchased together.  If you're curious as to which of your products would pair well, you may want to try looking for trends in your sales data. And don't forget to promote your offers once you've gotten your promotions and timing nailed down.

Example bundles:

Offer coupons when you can

Shoppers are always looking to save. Use the information you’ve gathered up to this point to create coupons. You could have one coupon code for the entire season, or mix it up and rotate several throughout the holiday shopping season. This is a way to encourage the sale of particular items, but it’s also a way to entice your customers. Furthermore, starting early gives you time to plan out your coupon strategy and make sure it suits your business' resources.

Coupon examples:

Utilize deal of the day offers to keep them coming back

One way to attract customers to return more frequently to your store is with daily deals. After they’ve bought something today, they'll want to come back to see what the new deal is tomorrow. With a little bit of planning using the information you’ve gathered above, you can come up with a cadence of offers that evolves through the season. Plus, daily deals are also relatively easy to promote.

Deal of the Day examples:

Don’t forget to email your promotions to existing customers

Although it's important to expand your customer base during the holidays, don't forget to take the opportunity to throw a bone to your current customers. Make it easy for them to find your best deals on your website, social media pages and especially in their inboxes. When it comes to effectively promoting your deals, remember that email marketing has a particularly high conversion rate.

Email examples:

Think about additional integrations

Consider taking advantage of additional integrations to get your products in front of even more customers. For example, you could utilize Volusion's eBay integration to easily create eBay listing of your products while still being able to manage all orders from your store admin.

Integration examples:

All these tactics should lead to a strong 2015 holiday season

If you haven’t already, create a calendar of these activities to help guide you before you’re in the thick of the season. Calendars should be flexible to adapt to unforeseen obstacles and opportunities, but strong enough to carry you through the season. This is the largest sales time of the year. Make it count with some early preparation.

Nathan Joynt

Nathan Joynt was the Marketing SEO Manager at Volusion, with over 8 years of professional search engine optimization, content marketing and website information architecture experience.