Ecommerce Merchandising 101: The Ultimate Condensed Playbook

Picture the inside of a plush department store. Above you, sparkling full-gamut LED lights illuminating the scene. To your left, spotless shelves hold row upon row of perfectly folded hotel-quality towels; to your right, you see a well-stocked luxury skincare display, with every product pulled forward in line with the next.

Beautiful, isn’t it? You can almost smell the vanilla-scented fixture polish.

As an Ecommerce retailer, you need to create that type of ambiance online via ecommerce merchandising. Your sales depend on so much more than SEO; you have to make your products real before your customers ever touch them. That’s digital artistry.

Need an example? Here’s Burrow’s homepage. Lifestyle images help consumers put themselves in the picture.

Burrow Merchandising

Scroll down a bit, and each of the products in the hero image appear as thumbnail links. Smart move, Burrow.

Let’s take a look at Camelbak’s landing page, too. Here, happy children who love their colorful water bottles emerge as the first image in a giant hero slider. Adorable.

camel back merchandising

Helpful links to various other Camelbak products appear a little further down the page.

You need a smart, professional desktop site — but that won’t be enough. Successful online stores travel well. During the first quarter of 2019, nearly 50% of all ecommerce transactions happened on smartphones. Customers who began browsing products on their laptops over breakfast kept shopping on their mobile devices, commuting to work as passengers, of course.

Retail website visits

Huge online retailers, like Amazon and eBay, leverage ecommerce merchandising strategies across all platforms. You can copy them — and we’ll show you how. Read on to learn how to use ecommerce merchandising techniques to convert your visitors into repeat customers.

A Brief History of Ecommerce

Ecommerce has come a long, long way since its invention in the 1960s.

Wait — the 1960s?

Yes indeed. Take all the time you need to let that sink in. If ecommerce were a human being, it would probably have Googled “benefits of early retirement” at least once by now. Unlike the rest of us, however, ecommerce is aging backwards like Benjamin Button. Remember Videotex? 

There weren’t many merchandising strategy options in the early days of ecommerce. Designed for display on a television screen, Videotex broadcast words and rudimentary graphics in garish rainbow shades. Photographs weren’t an option, even later on. Nevertheless, people all over the world ordered all sorts of things, from mundane grocery items to package holidays, via Videotex.

Like the Ugly Duckling of technology, ecommerce blossomed into a swan when it grew up. Online retail sales have bitten off a progressively larger market share every year since the year 2000. In 2018, nearly 10% of all retail sales happened on the internet — up from a mere 0.9% at the turn of the century.

Ecommerce total shares

In 2017, a CouponFollow survey found that 47% of people aged 22 to 37 did most of their shopping online. When they conducted the same study in 2019, 60% of millennials favored ecommerce businesses over brick-and-mortar stores, indicating a 13% consumer shift over just two years.

By itself, that increase is exciting. When you combine it with the paradigm shift in shopping habits caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, there can only be one conclusion: If you’ve been waiting to make a move into ecommerce, now’s the time to get online.