Driving Online Sales with Cross Merchandising

Cross merchandising is traditionally associated with brick-and-mortar retail stores. But it is also a great way for eCommerce businesses to increase order sizes and sales. 

Here’s everything you need to know about implementing product merchandising that encourages online shoppers to buy more. 

What is cross merchandising? 

When you’re in a supermarket, you’ll usually find the spaghetti close to the pasta sauce and the pineapple cutters close to the pineapples. This is no coincidence; this is cross merchandising. 

Simply put, cross merchandising is when complementary products are displayed side by side in-store or on the digital shelf. Often, these items come from different product categories and are thoughtfully combined to encourage customers to buy more. 

Cross merchandising can improve the customer experience. When done right, it should remind shoppers of items they need, make it easier for them to find items on their shopping list and inspire spontaneous, unplanned purchases. As a result, cross merchandising usually leads to increased sales and average order values too. 

This visual merchandising strategy requires careful planning and experimentation. But it can benefit brands of every size across all industries – including eCommerce businesses. 

Great examples of cross merchandising in eCommerce 

When it comes to eCommerce merchandising, there are countless ways to nurture cross selling while also assisting customers. Here are just three examples of brands that get it right. 

Ikea 

Whether you visit Ikea online or in-person, the thematic displays throughout its showrooms mean you’re bound to purchase more than you intended. 

cross merchandising

In the above example from Ikea’s ‘Inspiration Gallery’, shoppers can see the item they want alongside a bunch of other complementary products. This approach allows shoppers to visualise the items together and encourages multiple purchases. 

Shoppers can hover on each product marker to view more details or click to visit each individual product page. The list on the right also offers a shortcut for adding products directly to the cart. 

Asos 

As part of their cross merchandising efforts, most online brands add product suggestions to the end of their product pages. But, in the example below, Asos gets it right by presenting shoppers with highly relevant complementary products. 

cross merchandising

After viewing black Adidas track pants, shoppers are shown alternative designs. Asos also links shoppers to the other products worn by the model featured in the listing. So, if a shopper likes the outfit, they can easily purchase the entire look. 

Amazon 

Amazon’s ‘Frequently bought together’ section uses same day sales data to automatically present shoppers with complementary product options. This is a great way to spark inspiration and improve the customer experience. But it also brings social proof into the mix. Knowing that lots of other people are pairing products can influence purchase decisions and encourage conversions. 

cross merchandising

In the above example, Amazon highlights the fact that people who purchase this Samsung phone often buy screen protectors too. Because lots of other people have chosen this particular screen protector, shoppers can quickly add it to their cart trusting that it is good value and suitable for this phone model. 

Cross merchandising ideas for your eCommerce brand 

To create an online merchandising strategy that truly nurtures cross selling, brands need to analyse their data, create a variety of content and try new things. 

With this in mind, here are five ideas to inspire your cross merchandising plans. 

1. Supercharge your product recommendations 

To boost basket sizes, add four or five complementary product recommendations to your product pages. Generally, these suggestions are related to the page a shopper is viewing. 

Like Asos, you could also suggest alternative product options or showcase other items that appear in your photos. Or, if a shopper is signed into their account, you could recommend complementary products based on their past purchases. 

Cross merchandising strategies often aim to boost impulse sales and customers are more likely to buy low-cost products on a whim. So keep this in mind when choosing complementary items. 

2. Create product bundles 

Product bundles are a great way to increase order values for your store. They can also save your shoppers time and money. 

When creating product bundles, it’s a good idea to mix fast-moving stock with less popular items. You may even be able to shift some deadstock this way. Offer discounts and let your customers know that if they buy more, they will pay less. 

As well as grouping associated products, you can also get creative and build cross merchandising bundles related to upcoming holidays or events. This will give you more opportunities to combine items from totally different product categories. 

Once you’ve built out your bundles, try adding them to your product pages. Jigsaw Health does this well and even allows users to customise their bundles with a couple of clicks. 

3. Use customer data to identify complementary purchases 

Back in the 1990s, the people at Tesco supermarkets sifted through loyalty card data trying to spot trends. They discovered that men who purchased nappies also tended to pick up beer while they were in-store. 

As a result, Tesco began to display beer and snacks next to its range of nappies. As a result, the store immediately saw sales of all three jump. The chances are this fruitful product combination wouldn’t have been discovered without the supermarket’s in-depth data. Luckily, eCommerce brands can now access these kinds of insights without a loyalty programme. 

It’s easy to spot trends and overcome assumptions by analysing in-house data. In fact, AI tools like Wiser or Vue can do this for you. Brands can also analyse customer behaviour and purchase trends on third-party retail sites with a Where to Buy solution. This provides access to a wider pool of data and highlights the complementary and competitor products shoppers purchase after visiting your site. 

When you understand your customers needs and behaviour, it becomes easier to determine the cross merchandising strategies that will work for your store. 

4. Add cross merchandising to your advertising strategy 

There are lots of ways to integrate cross merchandising into your PPC strategies. 

On Google Ads, when you retarget consumers with a product they previously viewed or added to their basket, you can also present them with complementary products. 

For brands on Amazon, sponsored product listings also allow you to present your product ads on the pages of complementary products – even if they’re made by another company. 

5. Present experiences that customers want to recreate at home 

Instead of using in-store displays or physical showrooms, online merchandising can inspire multiple purchases through blog posts, videos, lifestyle images and other immersive content. 

Consider how you can use the likes of online product demonstrations, recipes, catalogues and virtual showrooms to show consumers how your products work together.  

Shoppable media is particularly effective here because it can help consumers envision your products in their home. Then, they quickly and conveniently add items to their shopping cart. 

How to track cross merchandising performance  

To improve your cross merchandising strategy, it is important to continuously track your progress. 

The proof of an effective product merchandising strategy comes in the form of increased sales and growing order sizes. So keep track of key eCommerce KPIs, such as sales, Average Order Value and Units Per Transaction. If you are successfully encouraging your shoppers to buy more, you should see your return on ad spend increase too. 

It’s also important to keep an eye on your store’s basket level performance. By looking at the products your customers frequently purchase together, you can understand if your product recommendations are having an impact. You’ll also discover new shopping trends that you can merge into your cross merchandising campaigns. 

However, don’t forget that cross merchandising requires experimentation. So it is essential to A/B test your product recommendations, bundles and lifestyle content too. 

Final thoughts 

Every brand’s approach to cross merchandising will vary depending on their products and their customers. So the best way to get your strategy right is through ongoing testing, experimentation and data analysis. 

amazon strategy guide