Ensembles usually are shown in large images, with buttons and drop-downs for product selection, as with the Shop by Outfit section at Ann Taylor (www.anntaylor.com). Some, such as the Sundance Catalog’s Home Collections (www.sundancecatalog.com) have an image-mapped outline of each product that links to the product’s detail page.
The Logic and Emotion Behind a Sale
Product ensembles are designed to appeal to the customer’s needs, whether logical or emotional. Ensemble selling serves two primary purposes:
1. Serving the evolving needs of the Internet shopper. Ensemble collections provide a broader user experience and offer an alternative route to the “buy” button. Rather than forcing the customer to drill down through product categories and sub-categories, ensembles show a collection of related items from multiple categories all at once. This is very appealing to shoppers who are new to shopping the Internet or who do not think in clearly defined categories, since it provides a more intuitive way of finding potential purchases.
2. Suggestive selling. Ensembles increase sales by giving shoppers new ideas about items they may not have considered—just as impulse racks or window displays do at a retail store.
Ensembles can be composed of items specifically designed to go together such as a jewelry set, or they can be composed of diverse items to suit the latest fashion whim, such as a set of casual clothes that evoke a feeling of “casual comfort” or “cowboy elegance.” Either way, they must have some uniting theme that addresses the emotional or practical needs of a large number of your customers.
Use Customer Data to Personalize Your Ensembles
Most ensembles either are hard-coded directly into the site or are administered through the e-commerce application’s site management system. Although this gives the merchandiser control over what is presented, there’s still a good deal of research, manual labor and outright guesswork involved in putting together the optimal ensemble.