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6 Retail product page best practices

Author's avatar By Jill Robb 16 Oct, 2014
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What Makes Great Ecommerce Website Design? Part 3: The Product Page

The product page is one of the most important page templates for retail sites, if you look at the footfall across a site (for example, from the Content Drilldown in Google Analytics for well architected sites). So, Part 3 of my series of recommendations on ecommerce website design dedicated to best practice I look at product pages. Previously we looked at retail home page and category page best practices.

The product page is the page that most customers who are engaged in buying mode will spend some time on: reading descriptions, comparing specs and flicking through product images..

Although some websites feature a 'quick buy function' which may enable customers to 'skip' this page. However this behaviour depends on the stage in the buying cycle the customer is at (and whether or not in-depth information is required). For example those customers who already know exactly what product they want, in which size and colour may well have no need to look at the product specifics.

However those customers who don't yet know exactly what they want will tend to take time exploring these options and understanding the features/benefits/specifications of what they want to purchase. So this page becomes your virtual sales assistant!

My list of product page 'Must Haves' will help you encourage your customers to add to basket on product pages:

1. Images Speak a Thousand Words

Irrespective of how good you are at crafting content, there is no Punch without Judy so your product images must be fabulous and plentiful! I always recommend to my ecommerce clients that they use a minimum of 4 product images for every product where at all possible. We are very visual beings (especially us women when it comes to fashion) so we want to see the details of what we are buying.

Your product images must:

  • Be clear and in focus
  • Be consistent (different backgrounds in every shot may be confusing)
  • Be detailed (don't use a thumbnail-sized picture of a pair of tights in a packet - how is the customer to know what the design detail is?!)
  • Be high resolution
  • Sell your product! (Whether this be by showing the item in use/ being worn / as part of an ensemble/ provide 360 degree views - its up to you!)
Don't use images with varying backgrounds/ inconsistencies

Don't use images with varying backgrounds/ inconsistencies

2. Words Sell a Thousand Items...

The detail you put into your product descriptions are what will ultimately sell your products. Conversion Optimisation tests show time and again that words are what results in the greatest uplift in sales, not messing about with the colours of buttons (I'm generalising but you get my drift). Product page titles are also important for SEO, AdWords and proving relevance to the site visitor.

Make sure then what you are writing your product description you keep in mind what the OVP is of the product and how you can sell it (Note check out my post on Online Value Propositions if you aren't sure). The features and benefits are usually essential when it comes to practical buying, as are measurements. When it comes to more emotional buying a different approach is required - its a more romantic approach to buying than practical so you should keep this in mind.

3. Test

Testing is synonymous with ecommerce in my book - and everything about your product pages should be tested. We recently tested the product pages of one of Origin Digitals' clients and discovered that for that particular client, the inclusion of 'Only' in front of the pricing resulted in an increase in conversion rates. This isn't true for all clients however, which is why you should test everything! Even the content (point 2 above) needs testing.

Try varying your content layouts, inclusion of bullet pointed features/ benefits instead of in paragraphs - or vice versa. Don't just copy what someone else is doing - remember your customers are not necessarily the same as theirs - and you can bet your bottom dollar that they will have tested the backside off their pages!

4. Mobile

Mobile responsiveness is a must as a result of the drive in usage of mobile devices- take a look at your product pages on mobile devices. Do your images load quickly? Is it easy to add the item to basket without 'futtering' about and having to pinch and zoom out on teh screen? Is the add to basket button clear and visible on the screen without scrolling? All of these very simple things can make a big difference when it comes to encouraging a sale via mobile.

Source: Google Report on Mobile, http://googlemobileads.blogspot.ca/2012/09/mobile-friendly-sites-turn-visitors.html

5. Upsell and Cross Sell

Upselling and cross selling are essential for increasing your ATV (Average Transaction Value) and of course can actually help get a sale through in the first place - think the 'Look book' style approach taken by retailers- you just couldn't possibly buy those shoes without buying those jeans and that top...

If your ecommerce platform doesn't support this in a nice way, then figure out workarounds. Such as suggested complimentary products with links through to them in the description of your product.

6. Respect to Reviews

I love product reviews! LOVE them! And so do customers. Lets face it if you really want to know the truth about something, you don't ask the brand / company selling it - you ask someone else who has bought it. Product reviews can serve to both Encourage a sale (obvious) OR Prevent a return (less obvious).

So YES you do want your products to sell, and doing all of the above hopefully we can help you on this point - but what if you have a high level of returns? Why are they high? The products might be great, so what is the problem?

A previous client had just this problem on one particular product. They introduced product page reviews and the amount of returns they were receiving dramatically reduced.

Why? One customer advised people that they were small fitting, so people started buying a size up and consequently returns reduced as a result.

Author's avatar

By Jill Robb

Jill Robb is the Smart Insights Expert commentator advising on more effective Ecommerce approaches. Jill is the CMO of Origin Digital, a Creative Digital Agency based in Belfast. Jill is also an Associate Lecturer at Ulster University on Digital Marketing and Communications. With a vast array of experience in retail, both online and offline, Jill's approach to online marketing is both refreshingly energetic and commercially astute. Jill is a regular speaker on topics such as search engine marketing and ecommerce and a contributor to business magazines both in the UK and Ireland. Connect with Jill on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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