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One of the big obstacles when designing your webshop is how to display your products effectively and fairly. The last thing you want to do is splash your products on your homepage with no idea of your customers’ interests. The common example is to imagine going into a high street store where the shop assistant greets you by throwing a random set of products at you. You’d have no idea what’s going on - what do these suggestions mean? Why were they picked out? Are they even your style? You’re left confused and the ‘help’ was anything but, so you give up and leave.

Of course, inviting customers to have a look around and experience your products is a great way to build interest. And the more you show, the more potential points of interest you have right?

Well, let’s imagine two jam stands - one has 20 samples to try and the other has just six. The one with 20 tasters on offer has more footfall than the one with six, not so hard to imagine so far. But, it also makes way fewer sales and brings in less money, even with the increased footfall.

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You don’t even need to imagine it, those were the results of a real study - jam included. Why? Perhaps because customers can’t actually decide what they want and leave instead of deciding or, they were only ever after free jam in the first place. Either way, the findings show that whilst you may get fleeting interest by offering more, by offering less you actually get value in return.

So, don’t limit your catalogue, limit the display…

At least at first. Just as Dreamworks’ ogre, Shrek explains about himself to Donkey, webshops are like onions. They both have many layers that you should carefully expose as you get into it (and possibly because a badly indexed webshop may make you cry because it’s so hard to get through).

But, how?

Put your best foot forward - Recommend best-selling items above others as these are most likely to interest other customers too

Seamless Searching - A smart-search function that can do any or all of the following : - handle different types of queries (e.g. “I am looking for .../ do you have…), auto-correct spelling mistakes, auto-predict queries and rank products according to popularity - makes navigating your webshop much easier. If Google can do it, so can you!

Categories - By clearly labeling your products and organising them into categories with individual pages, you make it much easier to navigate your catalogue. Customers come to category pages because they have an idea of what they want but the idea isn’t fully formed yet. Showing like products together helps customers figure out exactly what they are looking for

Other Recommendations - Recommendations can go almost anywhere (but not everywhere) - front page, product page, add-to-basket page, checkout page and order confirmation page. Get dynamic with them by using selections based on similar items, accessories, personalised items etc. depending on where they are and what your aim is.

Of course, this can eat up a lot of time, having to constantly input product information, label, place, update and repeat. With large or changing inventories this can be particularly tiresome. Especially when there are many other jobs your marketers and programmers could be better focusing their time on. With that in mind, using a search and/or recommendation engine from external providers can help to maintain these solutions with no sweat. It’s certainly food for thought - can outsourcing allow me to focus on the more enjoyable aspects of my job?

Take home

Instead of treating your webshop like a rummage sale, asking your customers to filter out what they do and don’t want. Turn the filter upside down. Present fewer products, that are carefully selected. As they explore through these more enticing offers, based on trending items or personally tailored selections (if they have visited you before) they open up your catalogue for themselves.

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