The retail industry is as competitive as it can get. With increasing amount of shoppers purchasing products from online stores, especially in US and Asia, retailers need to up their game to attract customers. With a lot of information, options, and refined research tools available at disposal to consumers, apparel retailers have to constantly innovate and make shopping experiences more convenient yet enjoyable for them to keep returning.
One such aid or tool that has been instrumental in luring customers in physical stores until the era of online commerce hit hard is visual merchandising. Just like the in-store ambience, lighting, setting, and display is important for any apparel brand to interest shoppers, online websites, and even mobile applications need to be visually appealing to stand apart and use digital tactics to make their merchandise captivating and engaging customers with newer interactions.
This is where an online visual merchandising intervention comes handy. Many apparel retailers and major brands pay huge attention to remain competitive in the battle. The functionality and accessibility along with digital visual merchandising are required to make an online store stand apart. Since customers cannot touch the garments, providing a visual experience that can be found in a physical store becomes essential.
The convenience of shopping from any place and at any time, access to information and make comparisons and ease of receiving delivery of garments make online shopping a very unique experience. However, there are elements that can help boost the sales and determine the frequency of usage or visit to a particular site for shopping.
Currently there are many websites or online stores selling apparels and fashion clothing. Researchers divide the elements necessary for a decent online visual merchandising into two broad categories i.e. High task relevant environments (HTRE) and Low task relevant environments (LTRE). The HTRE elements include verbal information on clothing like merchandise narrative, price and return policies, terms of delivery, and visual demonstration of the garment. While LTRE elements are comparatively insignificant to finish the process of shopping and include music, colours, decorative fonts, security options and mostly aspects that are not directly related to the product.
The other two important sub categories of LTRE elements are atmospheric features that are essentially the intro features of the website, the text, font, content, audio or background music, and colour schemes; and the other is website registration wherein personal data is collected from consumers, which is an activity many consumers avoid and refrain from. Website registrations have been received positively only when consumers are given special privileges, perks, or price reductions on their shopping.
Just like in a physical store, the atmospherics determine the amount of time, purchased quality, emotions and buying intentions of consumers; an online store's atmospherics must aim to achieve the same. An efficient user interface can help reach positive cognitions and emotions of an online buyer.