Injecting Creativity into Apparel Merchandising

As people browse and shop more online – and increasingly on mobile – how you present merchandise to customers is key to winning sales, improving average order value, and securing conversions. There are many ways to effectively merchandise individual items – by offering dynamic swatches to show an item in all its available colors, by offering a “quick view” of products to help customers quickly select items, or by utilizing faceted browsing and flexible search terms. We discussed many of these tools on the blog previously. Beyond merchandising individual items, however, there are many ways to display items collectively – as part of an outfit or as part of a category on your site – that can provide richer shopping experience for your customers. Taking advantage of the right tools – creatively showcasing your merchandise and your brand identity – is essential in setting your store apart from competition.

Merchandising By Outfit

Brick-and-mortar stores have product displays and other tangible tools to market apparel to customers; ecommerce retailers have lookbooks, outfit bundles and mix-and-match galleries. Some customers arrive at your site looking for a specific item; others come to browse, looking to enjoy the shopping experience and uncertain of what or how much they might purchase. Merchandising by outfit provides stylistic guidance to those latter customers, offers inspiration to help them find items that meet their intangible needs.

  • Lookbooks function as a shoppable catalog page – customers can scroll through outfit images and when they see one they like, they click to add items from the look to their cart. Depending on your lookbook settings, customers can choose to add individual items to their shopping cart – in the appropriate sizes – or buy the entire look.
    lookbook quick add shopping cart
  • Outfit bundles take guesswork out of making stylish choices, and pairing pieces this way can increase average order values. Bundles can be especially effective if you offer school uniforms. With just a few clicks, parents have their children set for the coming school year.Zutano Toddler Boy Look
  • Mix-and-match galleries provide another way to browse and choose items. Customers scroll through a curated selection of tops and bottoms, for example, and find a matching set that suits their tastes. These galleries allow for a bit more creativity on the customer’s part, while still offering subtle guidance in creating a look they will love.Tea mix match orange

Merchandising With Attributes

Good categories are foundational to a successful ecommerce store. A logical category structure makes it easy for customers to quickly find a specific item they are looking for, or to spend time browsing around until they find something they need. Categories are also great for creatively merchandising apparel in curated groups – taking advantage of logical rules will allow you to control numerous factors in how items appear to customers.

  • Creatively manage the order in which items appear on category pages. The most adaptable platforms will let you present merchandise by whatever characteristics make sense: by color, by cut, by length, or any others. You can place new arrivals at the top with badges or relegate sale items to the end of the list. Moreover, each classification of merchandise can have its own structure – have all your items follow the same display structure, or sort in a way that makes sense for each collection. Organize dresses by cut; organize shirts by color; organize pants by function. It may even make sense to set up custom orientations, so that complementary items appear next to each other, improving the likelihood customers will purchase items together.
    merchandise by color
  • Develop category pages that are built around apparel attributes. Based on your merchandise, you can use individual attributes or a combination of factors to display your products in creative ways. Each grouping can focus on different attributes. For dresses, color may be the most important attribute – highlighted prominently in thumbnails. For pants, cut may be the more important attribute to focus on. Product pages provide the extra information that may or may not be important to a customer’s purchasing decision.
    merchandise by theme
  • Group items together in unconventional ways – similar to merchandising by outfit, but with a looser structure. These customized collections allow you to go beyond the usual – pants, shirts, skirts – and get creative. Group together items for special occasions (e.g. wedding night, honeymoon, hiking), season (summer essentials, winter wear), or customer favorites. For customers who visit your site to browse, these collections provide style guidance and inspiration.

There are numerous tools to creatively and compellingly merchandise your apparel to customers. While it is crucial to effectively display items on their own, take time to think beyond individual items and consider how they might work as part of an outfit, or when grouped into an unconventional category. Grouping products together in unconventional ways can improve average order value, help you illustrate your brand’s identity, and strengthen the bond between your company and your customers.

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