November 1, 2012, 12:00 AM

A united front

(Page 2 of 2)

Merchandising – As the universe of online commerce expands, it is more important than ever to coordinate elements that'll help you seal the sale. To improve your merchandising, develop content that reinforces your value proposition. When possible, personalize the experience based on a shopper's previous browsing and purchasing behavior, and the preferences they've indicated. This will give you a significant advantage, as many merchants have the data for successful merchandising but don't know what to do with it.

One retailer doing this well is women's apparel merchant Title Nine. The e-retailer and cataloger offers recreational clothing for active women, and one of the top paths to purchase on its e-commerce site is via its wide selection of sports and specialty bras. Based on that data, the Title Nine team developed a robust microsite, called Bounce, which focuses solely on bras. The microsite has several tools that help consumers find the right product in the right size—a key consideration given that apparel shoppers may hesitate to buy items without trying them on first. A bra finder, sizing tool, expert picks and customer reviews all help match shoppers with the right products. A return policy that's good for a year after purchase also helps move consumers through the checkout flow.

The Bounce microsite achieves a conversion rate 32% higher than the already successful main site. Bounce content also fuels a robust personalized e-mail program that sends targeted products to past buyers, delivering differently optimized messages to consumers reading e-mail on computers and mobile devices. Once again, deep knowledge of the brand's target audience has paid off in sales success.

As these retailer examples show, optimizing the online shopping experience means developing and adopting priorities that are unique to each business. The first step, though, is one all merchants share—to make an integrated brand experience across customer touchpoints a top priority.

Ken Burke is the founder and chairman of MarketLive Inc., an e-commerce platform and services provider.

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