The conversion goal of every home page is to successfully guide the visitor one click deeper into your site. And while navigation menus, site search and personalized content can assist in that goal, guided selling tactics may be even more effective.
Guided selling is a suggested way to filter your product catalog to a specific set of results, whether presented as “shop by” categories, trending and popular items, interactive tools or video tutorials. Rather than leaving visitors to fend for themselves with global search and browse, or taking a guess at featured products and categories, guided selling offers visitors a way to understand how best to achieve their conversion goal – finding something they want.
Shop by features
If you allow product list pages (category and search results) to be filtered by attributes like price, color, or other attribute, consider promoting these filters to the home page as shop by tools that span multiple categories.
Candyland Store combines shopping by popular brands with sale, bulk, color and special occasion.
You don’t have to guess at this strategy. Your web analytics can tell you which filters and facets are most used by customers for different product types. You can also track click through rates for home page features to continually optimize your shop by mix.
Shop by criteria
Similarly, allowing customers to identify their buying criteria (need, type, finish, desired end-result) helps bypass several layers of navigation, and eliminate pogo-sticking (bouncing between many product pages and reading descriptions thoroughly).
This tactic may also help educate the customer and build trust with your content. In the example above, a Ouidad customer may not be aware that certain products are more effective for kinky curls than loose.
Shop by color
For certain purchase decisions, like paint, flooring and decking, color can be extremely important. Shop by color supports faster product comparison and decision making, which can make or break your conversion rates.
Shop by price
For customers “just browsing” or looking for a gift but open to suggestion, supporting shop by price from the home page to find what they consider “hot deals” or narrow within what they are willing to spend. Since these tools support discovery across most or all categories, it’s more helpful to these customers than filtering individual cateogries by price.
Other ways to shop by
There are endless ways to support shop by, such as recipient, interest, personal style, body type, and so on. Effective ways to filter varies by product category. Consider different strategies for different product types if you have a diverse catalog.
Trending items, top rated, best selling, most loved…these are all great ways to merchandise your home page, as consumers often trust this social proof.
These sections can be auto-populated by today’s personalization tools, so it makes it easy on the merchandiser to boot!
Design tips for home page merchandising zones
A common temptation for designers and merchandisers is to use tabs to pack more content into less space. The caveat is these additional links can be subtle and go unnoticed. Check your analytics – do secondary tabs get clicked?
Web users are no longer scroll-o-phobes, so don’t be afraid to break out your features into their own, standalone sections (and in time, remove those that customers don’t use).
Product carousels like this one from Albee Baby are popular, but as with all truncated product lists, it’s not necessarily intuitive that there’s “more” behind the > icon. Consider labeling “view more” and also using carrot icons ( < and > ) near the dot controls below.
It’s also important to ensure carousel controls are clearly visible. Accessory Geeks’ faint overlay icons bleed into background, as do their “dots.”
If you sell consumable or replacement products that fit specific makes and models, stepped product finders like Carrot Ink’s and Crutchfield’s are killer.
David’s Tea gets creative with its Tea Matchmaker tool, matching flavors to your mood.
Toys R Us’ gift finder supports traditional filtering by recipient and price.
Argos’ holiday gift finder adopts Tinder’s swipe-left-and-right method for exploring its catalog.
Depending on your customer, interactive quizzes may be a fun way to explore your offering.
DailyLook’s personal stylist is an interactive quiz similar to those on fashion websites that may appeal to their demographic.
Does it work for men? TieBar’s giving it a try.
Video merchandising is another option, but it can be costly to produce and may drag down page load speed. This is a tactic you may want to A/B test before rolling out to all visitors.
Guided selling videos will be “shoppable” – with direct links to featured products.
Ideally, your home page is a quadruple-threat combo of:
- Usable navigation menus and good CAMA
- Site search boxes that adhere to design convention and best practice
- Contextually targeted content, promotions and featured products
- Guided selling tools that support relevant product discovery
Once you’ve nailed the basics, it’s time to ensure your home page content is optimized for mobile. The next four chapters of Ecommerce Illustrated will explore this in depth. If you’re new to EI – please subscribe to receive upcoming chapters, and check out what you’ve missed on EcommerceIllustrated.com
Ecommerce Illustrated is a project of Edgacent, an ecommerce advisory group.