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The Big Merchandising Blog

Have you ever walked into a retail store and been blown away? Or walked into a shop and instantly feel like turning back around and running for it? For what they lack in tech, huge audiences, scalability and speed, retail outlets are incredible at presentation. It’s the people who do the layout and organising that make you really feel like buying everything in the store. They are masters of the art of what they call merchandising, and it makes more of a difference to your sales than – dare we say it? – than the product itself. In this blog we asked the fashion merchandising pros for their advice on how they would approach a Teemill store.

A women on her shopping trip
Pic: Josh Rawson-Harris via Unsplash

Colours

If you want to instantly get your website colour scheme right, try to think of the site like the way fish think about water: They don’t even realise it’s there. You want your site to stay out of the way, visually, and let your products shine. The only exception to subtlety is your “Buy Now” button, which we recommend picking a colour that jumps out of the page.

Go with a clean, white theme and keep attention focused on your product and photography. It may seem a bit bare, but if your product and photos are great they should hold their own.

Imagine your site like a photography gallery with spotless clean white walls leaving your customer to stare at the product and photos.

First Impressions count
When people load the homepage we want an emotional reaction of “wow” – First impressions count. As soon as the homepage has loaded, your visitor has probably, in their heart, decided whether or not to checkout. If they feel this way, they’ll spend time looking around for a product that their head agrees is sensible enough to buy. It doesn’t work well the other way round as fashion is different to buying utilities.

The homepage is where we set up the sale in the heart – the product page answers any doubts in the head.

That emotional decision where the customer feels “i like this brand” happens instantly. Save your best photos and products for the homepage banners, and go all out with your best products and compelling writing. The product page is more transactional – on the homepage you want stunning visuals.

Make Navigation easy

Navigation should be seamless and easy. Some brands make the mistake of worrying about how large and obvious nav will look – that’s a mistake – you want your navigation to be large (if in doubt, go bigger) and clear. Always use sans-serif fonts in your menu, and short words like “Men / Women” rather than things that require any kind of thought like “ss17 collection”

Navigation is not just about the menu. Your banners and blocks of content are great ways to point people in the right direction. On the homepage it’s a good idea to think about the navigation being about gating your users – Men this way, Women this way. And where you send them will be (unless you have a campaign store with only one design) to a collection. Collections themselves are worth thinking about in terms of how you organise, and how that relates back to your customer’s browsing behaviour.

At a secondary level, your customer may know exactly what they’re looking for, but it’s much more likely your customer just wants a mooch around. So try not to over organise at category level. Simpler collections packed with a variety of products are more shopper-friendly.

So rather than make say one collection each for t-shirts, sweats and baseball tees, you might just make one category containing them all. One pro merchandising trick is to put all your products like this in a category and use the word NEW a lot. Call it the “New In” category and pack it with your best Menswear, and make another for your Women’s styles, and perhaps sort by your newest stuff whilst peppering your best one or two items in near the top to catch the eye.

New is a really powerful word, and you can send email campaigns with New in the subject line linking to your New In collection from time to time for reliable results.

Don’t be afraid of doubling up nav too, it’s actually really helpful to the customer. Say you have Men / Women in the menu, you might have the same gating in the banner and maybe even two pods – one for Men and one for Women. The homepage aims to make a great impression and navigationally all it needs to do is get them to the next step – browsing a collection.

Collections

When your customer loads a collection, they will be scrolling through to find a product that catches their eye. They’ll click on items they’re interested in buying and then we’re in the home stretch. So the idea with collections is to get a click. We don’t want the customer to scroll to the bottom without finding something they like. So one quick hack is to pack your collections and give them more variety.

Firstly the obvious: A quality banner photo, a compelling description and clear name for your collection. You only need one great photo to make the whole collection feel more attractive to potential customers.

It’s a good idea to use your best photos in the banner, and it’s ok to use the same photo you’ve used on the homepage or elsewhere – the continuity and familiarity is actually an advantage. Compelling descriptions go a long way with selling your products. People do read this stuff, and also it helps Google understand what your collection is all about and allows people to find it easier.

Let’s say we’re working on a New In category for Menswear, you can add jumpers, tees and other products to one collection. If you have a great design on a tee that’s getting results, you can add it to other products like jumpers and baseball tees too.

The order that things appear also influences the customer experience. In the collection editor, drag and drop the order products appear. First off, add your best stuff at the top as mobile devices scroll one product at a time. And group products that are similar or go together within the collection so people can imagine the outfit.

You can also add a product multiple times and tweak the colour that appears in the collection list. It’s a good idea if you have one great design and you want to highlight it, or if you only have a few designs and want to pad out your collection and make it look fuller.

The thing we’re trying to avoid in a collection is 6 white tees in a grid. You want a range of products in a range of colours that I can scroll through, like a shop, so it makes sense to mix and match the default colours that appear in the collection so people can see the variety in your store. You can also break up your collections by choosing to show the lifestyle photos associated with the product, either images you’ve created using our tools or images you’ve taken yourself. Explore your collection edit page for these features.

The stores with the most sales all pay attention to detail and remember remember less is more.

Remember we’re trying to help people find products, and that means letting the customer find products in more than one way – Prods can be in more than one collection.

Product page

This is where the person is looking at the design. Things become a little more transactional at this stage, but that’s what you want – the sale. The aim of the product page is to align the heart with their head, while the customer feels like they like the product but will be naturally cautious, especially if you are a brand they have not purchased from before. The best way to approach the product page is to cover all the reasons they might not check out – we must not leave any mistakes on the page.

You could approach your product page like a checklist. Our merchandising pros said these, in order, were the things they would absolutely ensure were high quality.

  • Great design
  • Compelling product description
  • Photography

To respond to these priorities, you can use the tools and info already in Teemill that we built specifically to help make this stuff easy. The product design tool is now packed with templates and starting points for you to use to make it easier to create quality designs. The blog now features more on t-shirt design, from beginner to pro. We’ve built a little AI to help you write product descriptions with one click – available where you write your description (though it’s a good idea to really put the effort in to write your own) –  and we’ve published a dedicated guide to creating incredible product descriptions.

Lastly you’ll find increasing numbers of high quality, professional photos inside the magic models’ tool on the product editor for you to use, and as there’s no substitute for creating your own shots, we’ve written up a handy guide to help you get started with your own shoot.

In the video below, we talk about more tips for merchandising your store and boosting the amount you earn per transaction.

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