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The Psychology of Product Catalog Organization

The Psychology of Product Catalog Organization 4594-daily-golden-nugget-693Organizing and launching your online catalog takes more than just good photography. You need to have a well designed layout for your catalog, and new studies show that you even need to know a little about psychology.

Over the past few years I've spent more and more time reading various reports about how to design website that are not necessarily aesthetically pleasing, but rather have the subtle ability to lead customers down a desired path. Old school business and marketing experts will also refer to this as the process of getting people through your sales funnel;others will call it neuromarketing.

Whatever you want to call it, you will know when you get it right because your sales will start to grow.

Back in 2008 I remember reading a study on what they called "chunking." The conclusion of the study showed that our brains will see the first 2 or 3 items in a list, then only the last 1 or 2 items. We can't control that our brains do not register the items in the middle of the list.

For example, if you read a list of 6 or 7 words might only consciously read the top 3 and the last 1.

Accounting for this on your website is easy, just make sure all your navigation menus have some sort of extra space or visible break after every 4th, or 5th item in a list. This would also apply to the organization of your product catalog page, in that you can test out how your customers react to product grids of 3 items across and 3 items down, or 4 items across and 2 items down. You may also want to experiment with the layouts that eBay and Amazon use.

Make sure you always test your layouts because your audience might react differently. I'm always surprised when I see a successful website layout that engages local users in the Southeast of the US doesn't work well for a store in the Northwest trying to engage their local community. So make sure that continual testing is part of your website strategy.

Even though your testing will reveal the best layout grid type for your website, you should also provide users with the ability to change the layout for their liking. This means giving them the ability to switch from 6 items on a page, to 9, to 12, or even 100. These options help to satisfy individual tastes and create a valuable sense of customer satisfaction with your website.

The next consideration for neuromarketing was illustrated in a book titled Predictable Irrational by Dan Ariely brings up some interesting result about how we all react to a second set of numbers based on whether the first set of numbers we encountered was high or low. Ariely shows that the first price becomes the "anchored" price against which all future prices are gauged.

That price anchoring seems to confirm something that I've also noticed with online jewelry catalogs... People will browse more deeply through your product catalog when your default sort shows higher prices on the first page. It appears to me that, when presented with higher prices first, you are able to abate the "sticker shock" reaction and then ease the customers into more acceptable prices as they dig deeper.

On the other hand, websites with lower prices first show users who stop browsing more quickly, perhaps because they start to realize the prices are higher than they can afford.

Your product catalog should at least include the ability to sort by high or low price. You might also want to give the ability to sort by newest items and customer favorites. However, the default, "unsorted" layout should always show the price from highest to lowest.

Hopefully these two ideas will help you develop a more profitable online product catalog. Remember, online catalogs are not just for selling online; they also bring people to your store.

AT: 03/20/2013 06:10:23 PM   LINK TO THIS GOLD NUGGET
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