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Designing product pages is a fine art. There needs to be enough in there to help customers decide on a purchase, yet there is a risk of overdoing it. 

Here are some tips from Econsultancy's newly-released E-commerce Best Practice Compendium, looking at some essential features and things to try on product pages...

User reviews

If you're product page doesn't contain user reviews, you should make this a priority. 

61% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision, while 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site which has user reviews, according to stats from iPerceptions.

Reviews are a great sales driver, and can work for you even if customers are buying offline. In the UK, 43% of respondents said they had used their mobile to compare prices and look at product reviews while out shopping. 

Thought should also be given to presentation of reviews. It should be easy to digest the information and make sense of opinions from different people. 

For example, on this product page for a digital camera, Reevoo shows an easy-to-digest summary of the reviews according to different characteristics.

It also segments reviewers into levels of experience so that, for instance, an unskilled photographer can find the camera for them: 

Product images

E-commerce product pages have moved on in this respect over the past couple of years, though you will still see pages with a single, tiny image. Like this from Playmobil:

I've had to pick a particularly woeful site to find an example of this, which does show how e-commerce sites are using images more effectively. Still, some do better than others. 

Schuh is a great example. Lots of different views of its shoes and trainers, and even a 360 degree viewer:

 

Use video 

Video works as a sales driver, as it allows consumers to gain a clearer idea of products, see them in use, and from different angles. 

For example, videos on the simplypiste.com product pages increased conversion rates by 25%, as well as leading to a reduction in the number of returns. 

It uses videos to show how its products work, and the features which aren't so easy to show through standard product images: 

Show in-store stock levels

According to our recent Multichannel Retail Survey, 96% of respondents always or sometimes check online before buying in store, while 80% have reserved an item for in store collection in the past 12 months. 

This means that online retailers should do what they can to assist this process, and one way to do this is to show stock levels in the customer's locality. 

Argos does this well, allowing people to check stock on product pages, rather than making them wait till checkout. 

It's a small point, but allowing customers to check using the first part of the postcode would be helpful: 

Show me the delivery/returns info

How much delivery will cost, and how easy it is to return is a big part of the purchase decision for customers. Don't make them work too hard to find it. 

Better still, remove all doubt with free delivery and returns. Even if you can't do this all year round, it's a great seasonal tactic. 

Here, Webtogs eases customer concerns with clear messaging on delivery and returns:

Improve your product page copywriting

Sales copy is often neglected, with the lazy approach being to simply place the standard manufacturer's product description on pages. 

Good sales copy not only has SEO benefits, but also allows retailers to add a more personal touch and use a unique tone of voice. This can help your product pages stand out from the rest and really sell the benefits of products. 

There are a number of great examples, and different approaches are needed for different sites and products, but I love this example from the the J Peterman Company: 

Urgency

It can help to create a sense of urgency in the customer's mind. If they are considering a purchase, and know that there are just a few items left, or they can get next day delivery if they order quickly, then this can tip them towards the checkout. 

Here, Simply Hike has a delivery countdown which might just encourage customers with that 'want it now' mentality: 

According to Simply Group Founder Gerrard Dennis: 

It (the countdown clock) is there so the customer knows when to order it by for delivery. There are three key pieces of information in this – how long you have to order to meet the deadline, it suggests our premium next working day delivery service (since we added that it reduced complaints that customers put items on economy and it didn’t arrive but it has produced an almost doubling in take up for the NWD service).

The third part is specifying the delivery day it will arrive with you on. Customers then know what day they must be around on (we also use DPD so they then get a subsequent text specifying an hour slot on the day). We modified checkout to promote people adding their mobile number so they get the benefit of this free service from DPD, also reducing calls to our customer services questioning delivery times.

Live chat

Live chat is a great way to help customers at the point when they are making a purchase decision, as well as easing pressure on call centres. 

Recent stats show that 53% of consumers in the UK and 63% in the US have used live chat

Here, Schuh employs live chat on its product pages: 

Consider using price match

Another feature I noticed on the Simply Hike product pages was a price match promise:

This may help retailers to avoid losing sales to competitors, and the reduced price may be offset if customers buy other items for the site, or are more inclined to return for future purchases. 

However, I would worry that just seeing the price match promise may prompt customers to leave the product page and head elsewhere to compare prices. One to test. 

I asked Simply's Gerrard Dennis about this feature: 

From hike the price match requests tend to come from Google shopping and obscure small websites rather than serious e-tailers  or Amazon. It does present a problem as one man bands operating from their garage have no overheads like us and our competitors, however we have a formula our customer service will use to see if we can match it.

If we can’t and the product is over a certain value we will, under certain criteria, offer a £5 voucher as a good will gesture even if they don’t buy from us on that occasion. That generally either swings the sale using the best price we can offer or ensures they at least come back in the future or have a good browse then.

The key to price match is we insist take we talk on the phone, we either ring them or vice versa, as conversion on a phone call is far higher than on e-mail. It also give the customer a sense of importance that we take the time to talk plus they feel more connected.  

Make sure they're quick

If you follow the advice here and add videos, multiple images, customer reviews and so on, then there is a risk that pages will become bloated and slow to load. 

In fact, a recent study by QuBit found that the average homepage took 3.50 seconds to load, while product pages were the slowest, taking twice as long to load as homepages across the board.

This is backed up by a recent article on this blog, looking at site speed of UK online retailers

TagMan recently ran a test with Glasses Direct to study page speed and conversion behaviour, measuring the impact of average page load times a user experienced and found a significant correlation to their propensity to convert. 

The conversion rate peaked at about two seconds, dropping by 6.7% for each additional second.

Moreover, page-load time for non-converters was three-to-four times higher than for converters. 

Graham Charlton

Published 29 November, 2012 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (10)

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Tom Howlett

Tom Howlett, Digital Marketing Executive at Koozai

Good points made. Product images are a definite must for an ecommerce site. Videos are definitely a good idea as well, I saw a clothing retailer the other day that had the ability to view a video of a model wearing the item on a runway - not quite sure what retailer that was.

I have also noticed video being utilised lots on car websites, not ecommerce necessarily, but helps the viewer see the vehicle in much greater detail and gives those dealers and edge.

about 4 years ago

Stuart McMillan

Stuart McMillan, Deputy Head of Ecommerce at Schuh

Just to give some additional facts around our live chat experience, where customers have engaged in live chat (especially video) we see significant gains in both conversion rate and AOV.

Also, a further note about our 360 degree product view, we've had to reimplement it using non-flash technology for our new tablet site, t.schuh.co.uk (not really supposed to a shameless plug as we're soft launching it...), it's worth having a play as it is gesture controlled. I'd recommend keeping tablets in mind as this Christmas is going to go mad with them.

about 4 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Tom I think ASOS has catwalk videos, while Simply Beach has them for its swimwear, if you like that kind of thing ;)

@Stuart I did wonder how many would use live chat for shoes - I've normally seen it used for bigger ticket items. Good to see it works for you.

We'll have a look at that tablet site - I take it you're seeing lots of tablet traffic?

about 4 years ago

Stuart McMillan

Stuart McMillan, Deputy Head of Ecommerce at Schuh

Graham, yes we have double digit percentage contribution traffic figures, with a conversion rate similar to desktop and an AOV higher than desktop.

about 4 years ago

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Sarah

Good point about reviews. If the reviews are positive for the product, they will definitely boost sales on your ecommerce website. In the ecommerce software I use for my own site, there is a reviews function which I encourage my customers to use. However I moderate the reviews to make sure I leave out any bad ones so it doesn't disencourage any other customers coming to my site.

almost 4 years ago

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aron

I completely agree with this. If people are involved with you on an emotional level, they will be much more likely to refer friends and family to your business, as well as talk positively about your brand.

almost 4 years ago

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Paul Baguley

This is a great list of stuff that should be on product page. Just its hard to get clients to understand this. Why?

over 3 years ago

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Nick Hancill

Re: bespoke product copy. It's all well and good writing something custom and with a bit of personality to it; however the description featured here is 100 words in before it even begins to describe the coat itself. Poor example in my opinion, and not the place for abstract reminiscing.

Focused, concise and well-written copy doesn't have to be Shakespeare. It just needs to be tell the customer what they want to know without the headache of consuming all that meaningless content.

over 3 years ago

Mike  Darnell

Mike Darnell, Social Marketing at Treepodia Ecommerce Video Solution

Video is definitely a must for e-commerce sites looking to improve product pages. Video enables products to stand out from the crowd, as well as being able to showcase a wider story than images.

Some of our clients at Treepodia have witnessed up to an 88% increase in conversion rates since implementing video on product pages. Video has become the first port-of-call when shopping online, so getting videos on product pages in a total must. Take the examples from this article. A great example of how video stands out from the crowd.

about 3 years ago

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Zoey Richardson, Information Technologist at Private

I accidentally came across inside , and after looking through their site [www].inside.tm/magento-chat, it morphs a business website into a virtual storefront so business personnel can see and help their site visitors in real-time using chat.

almost 3 years ago

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