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Designing product pages is a fine art - sites need to make sure they include enough information to inform the customers' purchase decision and encourage a sale, while also making sure the page isn't cluttered and unusable.
We've previously looked at 10 great e-commerce product pages, and here we examine 10 features that have proven to either increase conversions or improve the user experience.
Obviously cramming all these features onto a single page could make it difficult to navigate, so in reality it’s down to each retailer to test each one and see which work for their site.
If a particular feature isn’t helping to improve conversions then there’s probably no use in having it on your product pages, but in general all of these tools enhance the user experience and help to encourage sales.
If there are any you think I've missed off or that have proven to work on your site then let us know in the comments section...
User reviews are a great way to improve conversions as it basically reassures customers that people have bought this product from you before.
Statistics from a Reevoo survey show that a massive 88% of consumers ‘sometimes or always’ consult a review when making a purchase, and 60% were more likely to purchase from a site that has customer reviews on.
Reevoo’s report is supported by a study from iPerceptions which found that 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site that has user reviews.
In fact the value of consumer reviews on e-commerce sites cannot be understated – a previous study by Reevoo showed that 50 or more reviews per product can mean a 4.6% increase in conversion rates.
There is also an SEO benefit as it means lots of unique content for search engine spiders to crawl.
Showing consumers options for similar products or a display for ‘customers that bought this also bought’ can help to boost the basket size and encourage users to buy more expensive items.
Data from PredictiveIntent shows that upselling, in which visitors are shown similar but more expensive products than the one in view, drives over 4% of sales compared to just 0.2% of sales driven by cross-sales tactics (such as displaying 'people who bought this item also bought').
But the data also shows that cross-selling can drive sales by 3% when shown on the checkout page.
However it is a thin line between offering product recommendations that are genuinely of interest and just spamming customers with useless items.
E-commerce sites need to be smart and choose product suggestions by margin, relevance, sales rank or customer reviews.
Large, hi-res product images
Photos are the face of your products, and attractive and compelling product images can have a positive impact on sales and reduce returns rates.
High quality images help customers to get a feel for the product and show them in a positive light.
The flipside is that poor quality, low-resolution photos can make your site look less professional and create a poor impression.
Quiksilver uses great product images that automatically zoom in when you hover the mouse over them.
Photography can be particularly important for fashion retailers as shoppers obviously cannot see items close up or try them on as they would in stores, but good quality high-resolution images of products can help to overcome these limitations.
Quality photography can give customers an idea of the texture of the clothing and the kind of material used.
Some products really need to be seen from a variety of angles to give the customers the information they need to make a purchase decision.
Images from different angles can help answer shoppers' queries, such as the type of connections and number of scart-sockets on the back of a TV, or else showing whether a suit jacket has vents at the back.
This should also be explained in the product description, but a picture gets these points across to customers instantly.
360 degree views
While most e-commerce sites offer customers a number of images for each product, 360 degree views are less common.
Research by The Simply Group, which operates several online stores, found that there is always an angle customers want to see products from that hasn't been displayed.
Adding 360 views led to a 20% rise in conversion rates for these product pages and a drop in returns rates.
However, it can be difficult to produce 360 images to the necessary quality, and it is also a costly and time-consuming procedure.
Call-to-action buttons need to jump out at the shopper and leave them in no doubt about the next step they need to take to make a purchase.
There is no definitive answer on which buttons work best, so it is important test different combinations of colour, button size, wording and placement to see what is most effective.
A bright colour can stand out best, but it is also important to consider that some colours may create certain associations in shoppers’ minds.
In a recent interview with Comet's Ryan Thomas, he told us that he had been testing colour variations, and has settled on green for the moment.
This colour may not work on every site, but it certainly stands out clearly on Comet's product pages.
Social sharing buttons
Admittedly the abundance of social sharing buttons on e-commerce sites has contributed to a degree of social media fatigue, but they are still a good way of gaining extra exposure for your products.
If you’ve taken the time to create beautiful product images then you should make it easy for people to share them.
This may become increasingly important as Pinterest grows ever more popular with consumers. With its emphasis on eye-catching visuals it means that attractive product images could be more likely to be shared and pinned.
And that could be good news for e-commerce sites as we’ve seen evidence that for some retailers Pinterest drives more sales than Facebook.
While it can be difficult to produce professional-looking video content, the conversion benefits are clear:
- Using video demos of items on product pages increased sales for Zappos by between 6% and 30%.
- Shoppers who viewed video on Stacks and Stacks product pages were 144% more likely to add to cart than other shoppers.
- On Ice.com, the conversion rate for shoppers viewing video on product pages increased by 400%, while return rates dropped from 12% to 9%.
- Shoeline.com improved the conversion rate by 44% for product pages containing videos.
- Videos on the simplypiste.com product pages increased conversion rates by 25%, as well as leading to a reduction in the number of returns.
To make the best use of product videos you should show the item in use to help customers make an informed purchase decision.
Furthermore, video content should be embedded into product pages as this is better from an SEO perspective and it makes for a better user experience than opening up a pop-up window to showcase videos.
ASOS’s pages are a great example of this – the videos play on the page over the product images.
Prominently displayed returns/delivery information
Information on delivery times and rates and the returns policy can be important factors in shoppers’ purchase decisions. If delivery options are too expensive or rigid, or if returns policies too strict, they may decide not to buy.
This information should be displayed or linked to clearly from product pages. If you have competitive delivery charges or a no-hassle returns policy, then this can work as a sales driver.
The same is true for anything else that differentiates you from the competition – a lot of customers will enter your site on the product page so it’s important to have this information on there.
Data from a recent comScore survey shows that among all aspects of e-commerce some of the lowest satisfaction scores were for the delivery and returns process.
When asked what aspect of online shopping retailers wanted to improve, 58% chose free or discounted shipping. This was followed by ease of returns/exchanges (42%), and variety of brands/products and online tracking ability (both 38%).
The research also showed that that more than half (55%) of respondents have abandoned a cart as shipping costs made the total purchase cost more than expected.
Furthermore, 40% said that they had cancelled a purchase as the shipping and handling costs were listed too late.
So clearly it’s important to explicitly state the delivery and returns information upfront. And if you provide free shipping and returns then shout about it, like ASOS does...
Detailed product descriptions
You need to make sure your pages answer all the customer’s questions about the product, otherwise they’ll have to look (and shop) elsewhere.
A common mistake is to simply place the manufacturer’s product descriptions on pages without giving it a more personal and unique touch.
This is a missed opportunity to describe and sell the benefits of products to customers, and to use more persuasive language.
Another point to consider is that original sales copy can stand out and give you an advantage in search results, since many sites will use generic product descriptions.
The amount of detail required for different products varies, but in general you need to ensure that it informs the customers of the key features in such a way that is easy to understand.
You should look to emphasise selling points such as the quality and value of the product, as well as including basic information such as the size, colour and cost.
Naked Wines uses great, quirky descriptions that give you all the necessary details and aren’t boring to read.
For items that require a lot of detail, such as the spec for a new laptop, it’s best to break up the text using bullet points to make the information more digestible.
It is incredibly frustrating for shoppers if they try to add an item to their shopping basket only to find that it is out of stock.
Often retailers hide the out of stock information in dropdown menus or only show users the stock information when they have already selected their size.
This problem is magnified during sales when stock levels are low for almost every item, yet shoppers are given no indication upfront that their size might not be available.
Boden solves this problem by displaying all stock information in a grid format, which shows exactly what is available for each size and colour.
And if your size isn’t available it lets you know how long it will be until they have it in stock.
This is a great way of giving users all the information they need upfront and reduces the chance that customers will become frustrated after browsing unavailable items.
For more detail, see our Product Pages Best Practice Guide.