Lists and grids are great ways to display volumes of products, but if you look at many e-commerce sites today, the grid based merchandising approach has been taken way too far. Everything is in a grid and rich e-commerce merchandising is non-existent. While the grid is highly logical and necessary when designing and developing an e-commerce site, there is no reason you can’t break free from that model when merchandising and displaying groups of products.
At Accorin, we believe that brand building and emotive connections need to be made when customers first arrive on the homepage of an e-commerce site. Rich messaging and merchandising help to do that. Once a customer chooses to navigate deeper into the site and browse through a variety of products, grids and lists are ideal design elements.
Gap does a great job of breaking free from the grid, and their e-commerce design includes great merchandising of products in representative pairings.
As an example, their Spring Color Match-up section on the Men’s “homepage” does a great job of highlighting clothing items in a natural and realistic manner. Color schemes are shown along with pairings and accessories. All images have links directly to the associated product pages and their alt-text works well to inform customers which destination they are going to. Once the customer transitions to deeper pages on the site, products are shown in a grid structure. At this level of the site, about 3 clicks in, grids and lists are ideal for displaying applicable products.
By taking this editorial-based merchandising approach, and applying it to the web, it is much easier for a potential customer to imagine himself or herself in their clothing. It reinforces the brand as a creator of stylish products and helps customers see how cross-category pairings will work together.
The Bottom Line
While the grid make sense for merchandising in many B2C e-commerce situations, and even more so in B2B e-commerce scenarios, it should not be the final word in merchandising. At Accorin we are constantly evolving our merchandising perspective and design approach to highlight products and break free from the grid. Not all product concepts and merchandising ideas fit neatly inside a square or rectangle, nor should they – especially if you’re trying to be memorable.