Designing product pages is a fine art. There needs to be enough in there to help customers decide on a purchase, yet there is a risk of overdoing it.
Here are some tips from Econsultancy's newly-released E-commerce Best Practice Compendium, looking at some essential features and things to try on product pages...
If you're product page doesn't contain user reviews, you should make this a priority.
61% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision, while 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site which has user reviews, according to stats from iPerceptions.
Reviews are a great sales driver, and can work for you even if customers are buying offline. In the UK, 43% of respondents said they had used their mobile to compare prices and look at product reviews while out shopping.
Thought should also be given to presentation of reviews. It should be easy to digest the information and make sense of opinions from different people.
For example, on this product page for a digital camera, Reevoo shows an easy-to-digest summary of the reviews according to different characteristics.
It also segments reviewers into levels of experience so that, for instance, an unskilled photographer can find the camera for them:
E-commerce product pages have moved on in this respect over the past couple of years, though you will still see pages with a single, tiny image. Like this from Playmobil:
I've had to pick a particularly woeful site to find an example of this, which does show how e-commerce sites are using images more effectively. Still, some do better than others.
Schuh is a great example. Lots of different views of its shoes and trainers, and even a 360 degree viewer:
Video works as a sales driver, as it allows consumers to gain a clearer idea of products, see them in use, and from different angles.
For example, videos on the simplypiste.com product pages increased conversion rates by 25%, as well as leading to a reduction in the number of returns.
It uses videos to show how its products work, and the features which aren't so easy to show through standard product images:
Show in-store stock levels
According to our recent Multichannel Retail Survey, 96% of respondents always or sometimes check online before buying in store, while 80% have reserved an item for in store collection in the past 12 months.
This means that online retailers should do what they can to assist this process, and one way to do this is to show stock levels in the customer's locality.
Argos does this well, allowing people to check stock on product pages, rather than making them wait till checkout.
It's a small point, but allowing customers to check using the first part of the postcode would be helpful:
Show me the delivery/returns info
How much delivery will cost, and how easy it is to return is a big part of the purchase decision for customers. Don't make them work too hard to find it.
Better still, remove all doubt with free delivery and returns. Even if you can't do this all year round, it's a great seasonal tactic.
Here, Webtogs eases customer concerns with clear messaging on delivery and returns:
Improve your product page copywriting
Sales copy is often neglected, with the lazy approach being to simply place the standard manufacturer's product description on pages.
Good sales copy not only has SEO benefits, but also allows retailers to add a more personal touch and use a unique tone of voice. This can help your product pages stand out from the rest and really sell the benefits of products.
There are a number of great examples, and different approaches are needed for different sites and products, but I love this example from the the J Peterman Company:
It can help to create a sense of urgency in the customer's mind. If they are considering a purchase, and know that there are just a few items left, or they can get next day delivery if they order quickly, then this can tip them towards the checkout.
Here, Simply Hike has a delivery countdown which might just encourage customers with that 'want it now' mentality:
According to Simply Group Founder Gerrard Dennis:
It (the countdown clock) is there so the customer knows when to order it by for delivery. There are three key pieces of information in this – how long you have to order to meet the deadline, it suggests our premium next working day delivery service (since we added that it reduced complaints that customers put items on economy and it didn’t arrive but it has produced an almost doubling in take up for the NWD service).
The third part is specifying the delivery day it will arrive with you on. Customers then know what day they must be around on (we also use DPD so they then get a subsequent text specifying an hour slot on the day). We modified checkout to promote people adding their mobile number so they get the benefit of this free service from DPD, also reducing calls to our customer services questioning delivery times.
Live chat is a great way to help customers at the point when they are making a purchase decision, as well as easing pressure on call centres.
Recent stats show that 53% of consumers in the UK and 63% in the US have used live chat.
Here, Schuh employs live chat on its product pages:
Consider using price match
Another feature I noticed on the Simply Hike product pages was a price match promise:
This may help retailers to avoid losing sales to competitors, and the reduced price may be offset if customers buy other items for the site, or are more inclined to return for future purchases.
However, I would worry that just seeing the price match promise may prompt customers to leave the product page and head elsewhere to compare prices. One to test.
I asked Simply's Gerrard Dennis about this feature:
From hike the price match requests tend to come from Google shopping and obscure small websites rather than serious e-tailers or Amazon. It does present a problem as one man bands operating from their garage have no overheads like us and our competitors, however we have a formula our customer service will use to see if we can match it.
If we can’t and the product is over a certain value we will, under certain criteria, offer a £5 voucher as a good will gesture even if they don’t buy from us on that occasion. That generally either swings the sale using the best price we can offer or ensures they at least come back in the future or have a good browse then.
The key to price match is we insist take we talk on the phone, we either ring them or vice versa, as conversion on a phone call is far higher than on e-mail. It also give the customer a sense of importance that we take the time to talk plus they feel more connected.
Make sure they're quick
If you follow the advice here and add videos, multiple images, customer reviews and so on, then there is a risk that pages will become bloated and slow to load.
In fact, a recent study by QuBit found that the average homepage took 3.50 seconds to load, while product pages were the slowest, taking twice as long to load as homepages across the board.
This is backed up by a recent article on this blog, looking at site speed of UK online retailers.
TagMan recently ran a test with Glasses Direct to study page speed and conversion behaviour, measuring the impact of average page load times a user experienced and found a significant correlation to their propensity to convert.
The conversion rate peaked at about two seconds, dropping by 6.7% for each additional second.
Moreover, page-load time for non-converters was three-to-four times higher than for converters.