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Copywriting is just one of the elements that combine to make up an effective ecommerce product page.

The product description needs to be informative and sell the benefits of the item, while also being concise enough to retain the customer’s interest.

Copywriting also goes some way to contributing to a brand’s identity, as the tone and type of language used will impact how customers perceive the site.

To show the extent to which the quality of copywriting varies among major retailers I’ve pulled together nine examples of product descriptions for the same pair of Levi 510 skinny jeans.

Read on to find out what my sleuthing turned up, or for more information on this topic check out our blog posts on six things to consider when writing product descriptions and where to place 30 elements on your ecommerce page...

Debenhams

Though there were eight bullet points lower down the page which gave the product details, Debenhams’ description was rather brief.

Debenhams should really put more effort into writing an interesting, informative description in order to edge customers towards making a purchase.

Topman

Topman’s ecommerce team has put in even less effort than Debenhams’. This is literally all the information that customers are given about the jeans.

USC

USC offers a detailed description alongside bullet points outlining the most important details.

It’s easy to see why this product description is more effective for informing the customer and driving conversions, however it is still listing the specific details rather than upselling the product benefits.

John Lewis

Department store John Lewis strikes an excellent balance between listing the product details and describing the benefits of buying these jeans.

The copywriters describe the ‘comfortable fit’ of the material as well as the occasions on which the jeans might be worn. 

It gives the shopper a bit more information about the product and helps to answer common doubts that people might have when buying jeans online.

Kohl’s

Another minimalist effort from Kohl’s, with just two sentences followed by bullet points listing the details.

In fairness the product video is excellent, but then not everybody is going to click on the video so more should be done to improve the copywriting.

Selfridges

Selfridges calls these Levi’s a ‘stylish yet wearable investment piece’ which is a succinct but persuasive bit of copywriting.

There is further information listed in bullet points beneath which give specific details about the product.

JC Penney

JC Penney’s description is just two sentences but it brings the product to life and acts as an effective sales pitch. It is far more potent to say that the elastane ‘keeps them comfortable and easy moving’ rather than just listing ‘2% elastane’ as a feature and expecting shoppers to know what it means.

Zappos

Zappos clearly favours bullet points over paragraphs as it offers a list of 16 product details to read through.

The result is a very informative list of details that should answer most customer queries, but it misses an opportunity to really sell the jeans.

ASOS

Clothing retailer ASOS has opted for a long description which goes into minute detail about the product’s features.

It’s actually a fairly functional description and this information might be better presented in bullet points rather than as one long paragraph. It doesn’t actually do much to sell the product benefits which, considering the amount of words used, is missing a trick.

In conclusion...

As these examples show, most of the retailers opt for simply describing the product features rather than taking the opportunity to upsell the benefits of buying the item.

Bullet points are a common tool for listing the details and for good reason, however I feel that there’s more scope to improve conversion rates by upselling the product benefits.

For example, John Lewis describes the occasions on which the jeans might be worn, thereby adding some useful context that aids the customer in their purchase decision.

Similarly JC Penney says that the elastane ensures that the jeans are ‘comfortable and easy moving’ whereas most of the other retailers simply list the inclusion of elastane as a product feature with no extra explanation. 

It’s a simple but effective piece of copywriting that again helps the customer when deciding whether or not to buy the item.

David Moth

Published 2 December, 2013 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1676 more posts from this author

Comments (3)

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Shadrach

Good point David about seeing product descriptions as an opportunity to upsell, most retailers think having some generic text by the product for design purpose is enough. Product descriptions is an opportunity to engage with your customers and put them in the picture, before they make a decision. It's a real conversion booster.

over 2 years ago

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Jon

Great blog post! I've been launching a bunch of new "micro" ecommerce sites lately and have been running into this issue consistently. I've had a great deal of success providing the most info available in a Features + Benefits type of description, but again I am dealing with an entirely different industry.

Here's my question: Do you think retailers offer a "smaller" description of items such as Levi's jeans because they are already a known commodity and established brand? I feel like you don't have to "sell" a pair of Levi's as much as you would some newer or unknown brand trying to sell jeans as well, for example. I'm always intrigued to see how so many sites sell the exact same things in so many different ways!

over 2 years ago

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Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum.co.uk

Jon

> Do you think retailers offer a "smaller" description of items such as Levi's jeans because they are already a known commodity and established brand?

I think you're spot on there.

But - wow - that text from Selfridges:

> stylish yet wearable investment piece

Isn't that a little like Private Eye's 'Pseuds corner' ?
How can jeans be an 'investment piece'.

But I then googled Selfridges -they use that two word phrase nearly 2,000 times on their site!

Versus
- Asos 2
- John Lewis 100
- Debenhams 130
- TopMan 0

over 2 years ago

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