How to use in-store tactics to inspire your online shoppers

January 15, 2021
Rebecca Wine profile picture
Matt Whitby
  • Brick and mortar stores know how to inspire shoppers. But online, it's a different story
  • Focus on improving your customer experience
  • Tactics to inspire online shoppers include better product visuals, smooth navigation, catalogs and recommended items

Brick and mortar stores are built to inspire. Employees focus on making sure customers feel welcome, know where to get help and in general make sure that visiting the store is a positive experience. But for online stores, that's not always the case.

Retailers mold their entire store experience around the two types of shoppers — those that know exactly what they want and those that don't. In a brick and mortar store, those browsing shoppers have multiple ways to get inspired and engage with the brand.

Through spectacular visual displays, in-store videos, an engaging atmosphere and a seamless customer journey, brands have found the perfect way to convert browsing shoppers. But, when it comes to their ecommerce webshop, they still don't seem to cater to browsing shoppers. And that needs to change.

Because, 46% of online shoppers are just browsing. That's a HUGE amount of people.

From the store to the screen

So, how can you take your offline tactics online to inspire and convert those browsing online shoppers?


What makes IKEA’s stores so special? It’s not the endless rows of stock in the warehouse. It’s not the meatballs (well, it might be for some). It’s the entire shopping experience.

The moment you step into an IKEA store you embark on a journey. You enter the showroom maze.

Some love it, some hate it, but you can’t deny it’s an inspiring one-of-a-kind experience.Whether you call it inspirational selling, visual merchandising or something else, it’s all about getting more visitors to engage with your products.

So, how can you engage shoppers with your products online?

First of all you need to invest in good product photography. No longer can you rely on plain grid style photos on a white background. What's inspiring about that?

These stats might help convince you to invest in good photography:

  • 66% of customers would like to see alternative angles of a product
  • 75% of people say the quality of the photos is the most important factor
  • 61% of people want to be able to zoom in on the product photo

You need to show products in use, in everyday lifestyle situations and on a range of models so everyone in your target audience can relate to your brand. You need to create a compelling first impression, but also understand that inspiration goes far beyond a nice looking website homepage.

Think of a brick and mortar store. The window display creates the first impression and sets up the expectations for the rest of the store. So if you then entered and saw a messy, uninspiring and confusing shop, what would you do next? Yep, you'd just turn around and walk back out.

Yet so many brands offer this kind of experience online. The website homepage is engaging and visually spectacular, but the rest of the website and the checkout experience is dull and slow. Brands spend so long optimizing and customizing their in-store experience to be as inspiring as possible, but don't seem to replicate that online.

Why not?

You need to ensure your shopping experience is consistent throughout your webshop and online touch points. That leads us nicely onto my next point...


Easy navigation on a website and in store contributes to an easy customer journey. And, the better your customer's journey, the more likely they are to actually buy something. So it's pretty simple really, make sure it's easy for your shoppers to get around.

In a store it's easy to see where you're going. Shoppers make their way around the aisles and then head directly to the checkout.

For your webshop, your navigation bar should be clear cut, intuitive, easy to read but not overwhelm. Don't put too many options out there. Too many is too much. Keep it simple. Make sure your font is easy to read and your color schemes are clear.

But, on a more technical side, you also need to make sure that your web shop is fast. Your loading speed needs to be optimized to ensure that you don't lose shoppers along the way.

Online shoppers are pretty impatient nowadays. They won't hang around and wait for the page to load, they'll simply leave and find an alternative, faster shop. This also applies to your checkout experience. We all know the faff of having to enter the delivery address, billing address and bank details when you want to buy online. So make it as easy as possible.

An excellent example of a smooth checkout journey is global ecommerce fashion giant ASOS. ASOS has maintained the same shopping journey for years that it’s now second nature to its loyal customer base.

When you’re ready to checkout everything is crystal clear. The price and your products are all visible and all payment and delivery details are auto-fill enabled so if you’ve checked out before, you really don’t have to do anything.

The cart of an online webshop

You can order a whole new wardrobe in just a few clicks.

ASOS has done everything possible to remove any barriers and distractions in their checkout process. Their forms are seamless, free of clutter and make good use of white space to remove any complexity and possible confusion.” says Oliver Gitsham from Experience UX.

So spend time on your navigation. Make sure your checkout journey is as seamless as can be. And, don't overload your shoppers with too many options!


What does your brick and mortar store do to inspire its shoppers? It creates an inviting, desirable, and pleasing place to shop and spend time. It offers an irresistible environment that lures people in.

But in-store inspiration also comes down to the layout, the posters, the catalogs and maybe even in-store videos. It's those added extras that make a store stand out from the rest. And that applies to your webshop too.

Added extras help increase both your traffic and sales and encourage shoppers to keep coming back for more. So what extra tactics can you implement on your webshop to offer that inspirational ecommerce experience?

Shop the collection

A screenshot from a digital catalog showing two women

Shop the collection or shop the trend campaigns allow brands to not only showcase their new products but also draw in that 46% of browsing shoppers that don't know what they're looking for but just want to look.

In retail, collections are normally a range of products based on the same theme or design. So for browsing shoppers it's an ideal place to get ideas and see what's out there.

Just like Topshop example above, use visuals to show a snippet of what's to come when they click through to the campaign. Keep your text light, you don't need to explain much at all and make sure it's easy for your shoppers to keep navigating throughout your website.

Recommended for you

A lot of ecommerce brands have implemented this feature but it's important to know how much value it adds to your customers. For those browsing shoppers it's a small but powerful feature that brings the in-store experience online.

There can often be a whole host of products you don't know you need. And it's these recommendations that show you exactly what a store assistant would tell you if you were in-store. Let's use an example from Danish home store XL-Byg.


Right underneath the product is a selection of related items and accessories that someone buying a barbecue might need. So make sure you offer the full experience. Replicate your in-store customer relations online. Showcase your range of products and consistently try to up-sell. Your customer's will thank you for it.  

Online catalogs

Retail brands know the power of a print catalog. They bring inspiration directly into the home and keep customers connected to the brand. But what about your online traffic?

Why can't they get inspired from a catalog too? I think you know where I'm going with this...

Yep, you need to make the most out of your catalogs and transform them online. Think about it, not only can digital catalogs inspire, but they can be distributed across all your online touch points to help increase your reach and traffic.

Still not convinced? Well here's the kicker, online catalogs can be enriched with product links to become shoppable. With fewer steps between seeing a product and being able to purchase it, shoppable content improves conversion rates.

And, like I said earlier, the better your customer journey, the more likely they are to actually buy something.

BoConcept, a leading designer furniture company uses its online catalogs to inspire shoppers, educate them about their brand and showcase their in depth range of products. Plus, they have added shoppable links so shoppers can buy products within the catalog itself.

Easily accessible from the BoConcept homepage, the catalog is a first-class example of shoppable inspiration.

You can use your eye-catching visual images or videos to encourage shoppers to act immediately on their inspiration. Depending on your goals there are many ways to tweak your online catalogs. You can customize your checkout experience, link directly to your webshop or simply use your catalogs to drive traffic to a specific landing page.


So, don't forget about that 46% of browsing shoppers and take the time to think about how you can inspire them. Think about how to take your in-store tactics online.

There's a reason why brick and mortar stores are still successful, so use your insights and knowledge and take them online.

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