Product page essentials
The following features are a must for any product page. This is the basic information that shoppers want to see before making a purchase decision.
Use the H1 tag for the product title, which will help search engines to index the product page.
Good product images are vitally important, as they provide the first impression of the product, and are key in the customer’s purchase decision.
Add to cart button
Make it nice and clear, and distinguish it from other elements on the page.
Here’s a good example from House of Fraser, with the colour contrast making the call to action standout.
Obvious really. Make it clear.
No-one wants to add items to their basket only to find they’re out of stock, so show stock availability.
For multichannel retailers, showing stock in the customer’s local store is a great feature.
This can be a great sales driver, as showing that there are just a few items available can push the customer into a decision to buy.
How can customers pay for the item? Show available methods, as this may affect a decision to purchase.
This doesn’t necessarily have to be the most prominent item but it should be there for those customers that look for it.
Here, Firebox summarises the accepted payment methods with the logos. A nice and simple way to convey this information:
Shipping (delivered to / carrier options / fees / offers)
This is key information. The ability to get items delivered within a particular time scale, and at a cost that the customer considers reasonable is a big part of a shopper’s purchase decision.
Again, if customers are unsure about a purchase – whether a dress is the right size for instance – then a clear and flexible returns policy can influence that decision.
Sell the product, don’t just go for the manufacturer’s standard description. While this approach is easier, a more personal touch and unique tone of voice can help your product pages stand out and really sell the benefits of products.
There are also SEO benefits to creating unique copy. If your competitors are using the same manufacturer’s product descriptions, there is a real opportunity to strand out in search results pages, since your description will be unique.
Customised product descriptions also allow you to provide more text and keywords for search engines to index.
This, from J Peterman, is the copy for a bomber jacket:
Product detail (materials used / dimensions / weight / cleaning / washing)
People need the detail, so provide all the information they’ll need to decide on the product.
Amazon may have long, sprawling product pages, but all the information customers need (and much more sometimes) is there.
Sizing / size guide
This is very important, especially for clothing sites. Providing a comprehensive size guide and information on the style and fit of clothes can help to minimise returns rates.
Here’s a good example from JC Penney, with a detailed guide appearing in a lightbox on the product page:
Show the available colour options of products and, if possible, show images of how they look.
Here’s a great example from American Apparel. 18 different colours, and a separate image for each:
User generated content
While not in the essentials list, product reviews should be considered a must for retailers, thanks to the benefits in terms of conversions and credibility.
A good place to start is an average review score towards the top of the page. This allows the shopper to make a quick judgement, while the number of reviews left is useful additional information.
Item reviews (and / or comments)
Customers will want to see the detail, so showing reviews in full further down the product page is the best way to do this.
Here, Diapers.com shows the detail further down the page, with useful summaries and pros and cons.
It’s a good idea to use Amazon reviews as well.
Tools for rating reviews
Amazon famously credits the addition of the question ‘was this review helpful?’ for adding to its bottom line, as this enabled it to show the most useful reviews, and therefore those best for conversion, at the top of the list.
Sorting options for reviews
This is very useful for purchases such as digital cameras, where there are lots of different types of users. I may be a novice photographer, so reviews from keen amateurs, or those who simply point and shoot will be more relevant to me.
Add to wishlist
This is a useful feature, and well used by Amazon. It allows shoppers to bookmark items for future purchase, and gives the retailer an opportunity to learn more about the customer, and remind them when they return to the site, or perhaps with a well targeted email.
For a richer experience…
The following features can make the page and products more attractive to customers, showing products in the best possible light and providing useful information for shoppers.
Video works on product pages. Catwalk style videos can help to sell clothing on fashion sites, while allowing retailers to showcase more complex products.
Here, AO.com staff walk customers through products.
This allows customers to see the workings of the items in a way which would be impossible through static images alone.
Also, the fact that these videos are made by the AO team lends them extra credibility when compared with manufacturer’s videos.
360 views of products
This is a great way to show products from various angles:
Tools to zoom in on products
It’s essential to let customers see products in detail, so let them zoom in to specific areas.
Here, Nordstrom allows shoppers to zoom in and see details such as buckles:
International pricing / currency converter (e.g. £99, EU110, $165)
Useful for sites shipping overseas. Here, JC Penney allows shoppers to change country of delivery and currency via the flag icon.
Trustmarks (security signs, testimonials)
There is some debate on the effectiveness of trustmarks, and many well-known retailers (Amazon, Macy’s etc) don’t feel the need to include these on product pages.
However, it could be argued that the help less well-known retailers, and when used as below on Nordstrom, they shouldn’t do any harm.
Trust is about more than logos though, and a professional looking, user friendly site that works as it should will do more to establish trust.
Live chat (or a prominent contact number)
Customers may have questions about a product or some other part of the purchase process, so offering live chat or a prominent contact number can be an effective way of saving a few sales.
The statistics suggest that customers value live chat, and it certainly makes sense for big ticket items like this tractor from Sears.
One for catalogue-based retailers. Entering the product code into the search box is a quick shortcut for some, while seeing the code on the page allows the customer to check that they have the correct item.
Highlight special offers
If you’re offering a discount on orders over a certain amount that day, or providing free shipping, shout about it. It’s a sales driver.
Stats (views / fans / item follows / sales)
Etsy shows stats on the number of views of the product, and people who have expressed their admiration.
Here, Booking.com shows how many people are looking at this hotel, and who has booked in recently. Effective social proof in action.
Social sharing buttons
Let shoppers promote your product for you. They may not buy it, but if it goes on Pinterest, then your products will reach a wider audience.
Make it easy for shoppers to do this with sharing buttons. The ‘rich pin’ for Pinterest is worth trying. This shows the product along with price and other details.
While customers are thinking of buying one product, there may be complimentary items they are also likely to want, such as accessories for electrical products.
Offering relevant recommendations on product pages can increase average order values.
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The Amazon classic. A very simple way of producing relevant recommendations:
If the product a customer is viewing has accessories, or there are other items that complement it, provide these recommendations.
Here, as I’m viewing a dress shirt, Nordstrom provides some useful suggestions for items to complete the look.
Up-selling (buy with X and save £££)
Here Amazon sees I’m viewing one season of The Sopranos, so it offers me three for $59.97. I’m not actually saving anything in this case (except perhaps postage), but I bet a lot of people don’t even notice that.
NB: This is an updated and edited version of an article originally published in August 2013.