Online Merchandising: How to Layout your Products
Posted June 5, 2017 by Anna Koneva, Ecwid Team

Online Merchandising: How to Layout Your Products

Have you ever wondered why grocery stores place milk at the back of the store and chocolates near the checkout counter?

Simple: placing essentials at the back of the store encourages shoppers to walk around and browse other products. Placing small items (like chocolates) near the checkout counter encourages impulse purchases.

This is all a part of the science of store design. The right store layout can boost sales, improve loyalty and help customers find what they want faster.

Your online store isn’t any different. The organization and layout of your products have a big impact on what (and how) customers buy from you.

In this article, we’ll show you how to layout your products to maximize sales and conversions.

3 Things to Consider When Selecting a Product Layout

Product layout might sound like a straightforward problem when you first approach it. However, like most things in e-commerce, the complexities emerge once you dive into the details. There are three things you must consider when you choose a product layout:

1. Choice

Choice is a double-edged sword for e-commerce stores. The lack of choice means you limit opportunities. Too many choices, however, and you’ll leave visitors confused.

Products in a supermarket

Effective product layout is essentially a process of balancing this duality. That is: giving the impression of plentiful choice, while still keeping the site easy to use and navigate.

Science says that decision making is mentally taxing. When you confront shoppers with too many choices, they are liable to not make a choice at all.

So how do you overcome this problem in your store layout?

One solution is to use featured images that lead to additional products. For example, notice how Made.com uses separate images for entire product categories (such as “garden furniture”):

Made furniture

Think of this as a teaser to lure in shoppers.

Ideally, you’ll want to keep your best-selling or most-desired products front and center.

Therefore, before you start the layout process, list out the following:

  • Your entire product range and their respective categories and subcategories
  • Functional categories such as “best selling products”, “featured products”, etc. and the products in them.

The next step is to use this information to construct a well-organized navigational menu. Notice how Amazon organizes products into categories in its menu.

Amazon menu

Doing this will help shoppers find what they want without overwhelming them with too many choices.

If your Ecwid store is added to a website, you can add a navigation menu by adding a piece of code:

Vertical categories in EcwidHorizontal categories in Ecwid

Here are the instructions for Ecwid stores added on WordPress and Wix websites, too. On Ecwid Starter Site, the horizontal menu is only available.

2. Product information

Here’s another balancing act you should perform when selecting a store layout: showing product information.

You want to give customers the information they need to click through and make a purchase. At the same time, you don’t want to overwhelm them with too many details — at least not before they are on the actual product page.

Your mental model in this situation should be to ease decision making and pique customer interest. Ask yourself: what minimum information do my customers need to click through on a product?

You’ll find that this answer varies from store to store and product to product.

For example, notice how Amazon gives you just four information points on the category page: product name, price (including discount), rating and Prime availability:

Amazon product info

In Ecwid, you can add similar ratings and reviews with the help of the Stampled.io app.

Ratings and reviews in Ecwid

Though this information is necessary for a large retailer like Amazon, for smaller businesses like Sand & Stone Jewelry, ratings aren’t as important. Hence, the category pages only show product name and price.

Sand & Stone Jewelry

It’s easy to fall into the trap of giving away too little information in category pages. The best way to avoid this is to interview your customers and ask them what information they use to make purchase decisions.

3. Store design

How you’ve designed your store will have a big impact on your product layout.

An e-commerce store will typically have three key pages:

  • Homepage
  • Category and search pages
  • Individual product pages

What products you choose to showcase on each page-type will decide what products your customers end up buying.

For instance, note how Amazon promotes its own products on its homepage if you haven’t signed in:

promoted products on Amazon

It’s common for stores to promote latest offers on the homepage. Make sure to align these offers with your target audience. BestMadeCo, for instance, runs a Father’s Day promo keeping in mind its largely male clientele.

BestMadeCo

Focus on:

  • Figuring out what products you want customers to buy (ideally your best selling, and/or highest margin products)
  • Maintaining design uniformity across different page-types.

Whether you decide to highlight your best sellers or new arrivals, Ecwid allows you to create a category for featured products on the homepage and name it according to your needs.

Featured products on the homepage in Ecwid

6 Best Practices for E-commerce Product Layout

While you can certainly create a unique layout scheme for your e-commerce store, it helps to follow a few best practices.

1. Push top products and offers above the fold

The “above the fold” area is the screen real estate visible when customers first land on your site. In fact, this area accounts for 80% of all viewer attention on most sites.

Given the kind of attention this space gets, it’s a good idea to place your top products above the fold. This can include:

  • Latest offers, sales and discounts
  • Best selling product or product categories
  • Recently launched products (works best at the start of a shopping season)

On Target.com, for instance, you’ll see the latest offers at the top of the page:

Target

If you have a lot of offers, consider adding a slider, like this example from Walmart. Also note the promotions running below the navigation menu:

Walmart

Some fashion retailers eschew conventional layouts in favor of promoting a brand image. On ASOS, for instance, you get a brand image with an option to “Shop Men” or “Shop Women”.

ASOS

This tactic works when you’re trying to promote a brand vision with a lookbook. Most retailers, however, will do better with a conventional product-first above the fold layout.

Follow the same idea on category pages: push your best-selling and top-rated products above the fold. For example, check out Amazon’s category pages:

Amazon category page

2. Mix horizontal and vertical layouts

There are essentially two ways you can layout your products on any page: horizontally or vertically.

A horizontal layout remains static. There’s a button at the edge of the page to scroll the listings further.

This example from Amazon illustrates things better:

Inspired by your shopping trends on Amazon

In Ecwid, recently viewed products are also shown horizontally. You can choose the number of items to display them on top or at the bottom of your storefront.

Recently viewed products in ecwid

Related products is another horizontally-oriented section. Products in this group are set up individually for every product page that allows to target your customers with highly relevant additions to their orders. You can display them on product pages and on the cart page.

You may also like section in Ecwid

In contrast, a vertical layout doesn’t have these scroll buttons. Instead, you see more and more products in a grid-like alignment as you scroll down. Like this:

Vertical layout on Amazon

Ideally, you should use a mix of both these layouts:

  • Horizontal layout when you want to show a few products from lots of categories, such as in Recently Viewed Products
  • Vertical layout when you want to show lots of products from the same category, such as one search and category pages

3. Follow convention and user expectations

There are situations when you’ll want to be unconventional with your design. The product layout isn’t one of them.

Your product layout is meant to orient users when they land on your site. A conventional layout ensures that they find what they want and don’t get disoriented.

Conventions, of course, vary from sector to sector. However, there are a few things you must consider:

Use a grid layout

In a grid layout, products are arranged in equally-sized rectangular boxes, like this:

Grid Layout

This layout has long been the convention for e-commerce sites. Not only would your customers already be familiar with it, it is also good for displaying products. Further, it scales well — you can display just one box on small screens, or expand to several boxes on larger ones.

When using this layout, make sure to keep the boxes equally sized. As this case study shows, using equally sized boxes can increase revenue per visitor by as much as 17%.

Equally sized grid

If you sell with Ecwid, that is not a problem for you — Ecwid has an equally sized grid that automatically adapts to different screens.

Show navigation at the top of product listings

Another convention you should follow is to place your sorting options at the top of the page.

Store navigation

Customers have come to expect this placement and will naturally look here when they land on a category page.

Orient customers with breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are navigational elements that show users their path from the homepage, like this:

Breadcrumps in Ecwid

Adding them to the to top of the page helps orient visitors. It tells them what page or category they’re in and how they can go back to the homepage.

4. Focus on visuals, but don’t forget the text on product pages

Online, the only way to show your products is through visuals. This is why large product images are known to boost e-commerce conversions.

However, while visuals are important, your layout should also have room for descriptive text. Good copy not only describes the product, but also helps sell it and your brand.

For example, consider how BestMadeCo uses strong copy on its homepage to sell a recently launched product. The layout helps the text play off against the image perfectly.

Product copy in BestMadeCo

Product copy is particularly important on product pages. Your layout should give customers all the key information they need to make a decision right above the fold. This should include:

  • Price (including discount, represented visually)
  • Product rating and number of reviews
  • Product and brand names
  • Whether the product is in stock (and whether stock is running low)
  • Shipping details
  • 2-3 key product details

This is an example of how not to layout products. The product page has no copy at all — it’s difficult to make a decision.

WorldMarket layout

As with most things, Amazon’s layout is perfect here, giving customers everything they need to make a decision.

Amazon layout

5. Add product recommendations and related products

On product pages, you have two goals:

  • Get the customer to the checkout page, or
  • Get the customer to view another product

For the latter, you should have a recommended or related products section. You can place this either after the product information or before it.

Amazon does this particularly well. Notice the related products and “also viewed” listings below the fold:

Also viewed section on Amazon

If you have multiple products in the same collection, make sure to display them as well. Here’s a good example from WorldMarket:

WorldMarket

Related product listings don’t always have to be visual. You can also show related searches to direct customers to items they might be interested in.

Related searches on Amazon

Experiment with different layouts for related/recommended products. Try placing them above the footer, below product description, etc.

6. Experiment with mouseover details on category pages

One way to improve click-through rates is to offer additional details when a customer moves his mouse over a product image on category pages.

For example, this site shows product details and an add to cart button on mouse hover:

Mouseover animation

The purpose of this tactic is to give users key information at a glance. It works best when you expect users to browse through a large number of products quickly, such as in clothing stores. It might not work for other categories, but you can still run a few split tests and see the results.

In Ecwid, you can enable “Buy Now” buttons on product lists to help your customers quickly browse (and buy) your products.

Ratings and reviews in Ecwid

When a customer clicks such a button, your store won’t open the whole product page. Instead, your customer will see a popup with product options:

Buy Now Button in Ecwid

If your product doesn’t have options, it’ll go straight to the cart.

Conclusion

When it comes to product layout, it’s best to stick to convention and follow what market leaders are already doing. Catalog your products in detail, categorize them thoroughly, then organize them out in a standard grid layout.

The best practices shared above will work for most stores across sectors. Try them at your own store and share the results with us below!