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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

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.

Cross/up-selling

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.

Big calls-to-action

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.

Product videos

We’ve previously blogged best practice tips for e-commerce product videos and 10 ways to optimise your video for search.

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.

Stock information

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

David Moth

Published 8 August, 2012 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

1682 more posts from this author

Comments (7)

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Oliver Ewbank

Oliver Ewbank, Digital Marketing Manager at Koozai

Nice post, I think the 'call to action' is the most important. I also think it is worth mentioning free delivery and any other USP's.

about 4 years ago

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Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum.co.uk

Yes Boden are a leader in the space - have had this very clear visibility of what sizes and colours are In Stock, for ages - certainly more than the 4 or 5 years since my company has been working with them.

> 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.

And many sites have no monitoring in place of just how many unbuyable products they have on their site, and how it varies in time.

about 4 years ago

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giorgia

I totally agree on all the points, especially on n°1. Product reviews are the way to make the customer stop thinking and start doing.

about 4 years ago

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Depesh Mandalia, Head of Digital Marketing at Lost My Name

There's a clear focus on retail here but that's not to say products from, say, travel or finance can't benefit from some of these

Useful round-up, few others include page load time (often forgotten when adding bells and whistles!), payment options are useful when you offer something different like paypal (which certainly helps influence me), telephone number (depending on type of business and how much you need to close the sale and indeed can via phone), clear discounting/pricing (important to closing a sale: VAT? delivery? bulk discounts?), quality reinforcement (if applicable such as product guarantees)

Above all of this, my only tip is to keep it simple :)

about 4 years ago

Albie Attias

Albie Attias, Ecommerce Director at King of Servers Ltd

High quality imagery is important but also consider the type of photography you use to ensure you position your products in their best light. For example, are you better off showing the product 'in situ' rather than floating on a white background (e.g. a lifestyle shot of a model wearing an item of clothing)

FAQs can also be an extremely valuable source of information, particularly if the product or service on offer is complex.

Effective product pages bring together a lot of information gracefully. You must ensure your product pages don’t look overcrowded and that information is displayed in a suitable hierarchy with the important information given prominence and all other information flowing naturally down the page.

about 4 years ago

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Hasan Sarwar

This is a great article! But one point to add to the 360 Degree view point, is that having experienced providing this to our clients on ecommerce, the cost and effort definitely outweigh the possible return on investment with even a 20% increase in conversion rates. Maybe a more efficient system to take the 360 degree views would help make this a great addition to any ecommerce site. From a customer perspective, any more angles than are currently available would be a significant booster.

about 4 years ago

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KSingh

Perhaps it is a good idea to include social proof as well. In addition to reviews it can be very effective to show latest conversations about that product on social channels. I am sure there are plugins for this.

about 4 years ago

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