Dec 13, 2012 | By poq

5 tips to improve your online visual merchandising

Online, visuals are everything. Shopping from a computer, tablet, or phone, customers can’t reach out and touch your garments or try them on. They’re not influenced by your store layout, your witty window display, or your carefully chosen colour scheme. All you have is the screen and your images.

So how do you make the most of them?

1. Get beautiful, high-res photos

Your product photos are your no 1 asset. Make them clear, uncluttered, and high-res. Zoomability is essential, whether it’s automatic on a mouse hover (on your website) or the classic finger swipe zoom on a mobile.

Great photos can help to answer customer questions about the product (does it have pockets? Is it lined? How shiny is the fabric?) more quickly than reading a description.

Get lots of different viewpoints of the products. Our clients Moda in Pelle do this really well – that’s a screenshot from their iPad app above.

Read this great blog post from Conversion XL for more on how quality images can improve your conversion rate.

2. Consider model shots

Model shots are a great added extra to your flat product shots. It’s much easier to see how big a handbag is when it’s worn by a model, instead of trying to work out how wide 25cm across is in reality.

According to the ecommerce specialists Practicology, womenswear model shots sell between 5% & 20% better than flats or mannequins. But interestingly, in menswear flat product shots actually sell better, except for jeans, trousers and underwear.

Practicology also estimate that modelled shots cost 30-40% more to shoot due to the cost of styling, make-up, and model hire. So it is an investment, but one that pays off.

3. Add some video

Video is the next level – an expensive option, with potentially great results. Fashion retailers including ASOS, Net-a-porter and Toast have all incorporated video into their product pages, giving products more of a tactile edge.

Video can also have multi-channel benefits. According to Todd Pollak, Google’s industry director for retail, four out of ten shoppers who watched a product video online later visited the store online or in person, while 34% of clothing shoppers are likely to buy after watching an online video ad.

Think about using video for more editorial content.  This is especially important for beauty brands, who can add value to their products with helpful tutorials on make-up looks or manicures. Video is also perfect for mobile, with more than a quarter of global online consumers saying they view video on their phones more than once a day.

4. Play with your layouts

Why not look to fashion bloggers for inspiration? They’re often masters of merchandising, shooting products in fun flat layouts. Check out this article by Editd for examples.

Layouts like this can look stunning, and attract consumers to products they might not otherwise have looked at. Make sure they’re fun optional extras though – you should always be easy for consumers to shop by category when they’re not in the mood to browse.

5. Write a killer product description

The final piece of the puzzle, this is where you need to fill in all the information customers can’t get from your photos. It’s vital to have all the practical details like heel height, materials, and sizing information. Many retailers separate the practical information about materials and sizing into separate boxes so it’s easy for consumers to scan the essentials – something to think about.

SEO for product descriptions is also very important, and a huge topic in itself! There’s a good introduction here from the blog.

But make sure you evoke an emotional response too. As Justin Cooke from Topshop said at Decoded London this year: ‘Nobody needs to buy your products – you have to make them want them’. Talk about where your clothes or jewellery could be worn, how they tie in with current trends, and what they could be styled with.

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