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Product page design is vitally important to the success of an e-commerce operation, and with the Christmas season imminent we thought we'd take a deeper look at how retailers can improve their performance by finessing their product pages.
It doesn't really matter how consumers find your website - if your product pages suck then they'll be unlikely to buy from you. These pages play a huge role in determining whether visitors convert into customers.
Yet a surprising number of product pages lack relevant information and do a poor job of selling the product in question.
So we'll list ten tips for product pages after the jump, to help you convert more people more of the time....
TIP #1: Provide clear details of price / delivery times / charges
These are among the most important factors in a consumer’s purchase decision, so don’t make customers have to search around for this information.
Consider what happens when you fail to display shipping costs. The customer will enter the checkout to find out how much they need to pay. If it is an unacceptable amount then they'll drop out, leaving you to wonder what's wrong with your checkout process. Well, it might be working perfectly. It's not the forms but the shipping costs they don't like, only you won't be aware of this.
Ideally, this kind of information should be clearly visible and positioned above the fold on the product page. John Lewis provides a good example of this, with price and delivery options clearly visible, as well as providing a product page free of unnecessary distractions.
TIP #2: Display quality product photos
Ok, so this might not be so important for items such as DVDs and books, but with other products good photography is essential.
This is especially important for clothes and shoes as people cannot try items on as they would in a store. To get around this, quality product photos are a must.
Consumers should be able to see these kinds of products from every angle, so tools that allow users to zoom in and out, and to spin the product around, are a good idea.
Shoe retailer Office demonstrates a clear knowledge of best practice, using Flash to let customers see shoes from every angle and zoom in and out. It isn't necessary to use Flash though - a range of quality photos from different angles would do the job just as well.
TIP #3: Use video, dammit!
With some products, video is much more useful than photography as it displays a product in motion, from a variety of angles, with sound and - if user-generated - user comments / background noise: "Woooo, I love it!"
Online gadget retailer Firebox uses videos for many of its products, especially those that move, such as remote controlled helicopters. It must work since we've just bought one...
Firebox MD Christian Robinson says: “Video has been an incredibly effective tool in helping customers see a product in action, giving a perspective of size and usability – this helps the customer to get closer to the product putting us on a par with high street stores where you can touch and feel’ products, an area that traditional retailers have always scored highest.”
TIP #4: Display customer product reviews
User reviews are increasingly popular among consumers, providing valuable, and hopefully independent, information on which to base their purchase decisions. They are a big win, especially for retailers and travel companies.
Online retailers are increasingly making use of user reviews - in our recent Social Commerce Report, more than half of all online sellers (51%) said they considered UGC as important to their online strategy, so we should see more of this in the coming years.
Product reviews can increase consumer trust in a website, as well as providing useful content for search engines. A no brainer.
TIP #5: Add links for further information
As well as displaying technical specifications you need to show customers the benefits / features of the products, and the reasons why they should choose your service over the competition.
Whatever you do, make sure customers have all the information they need to decide on a product, with links to other relevant parts of your website. These links should include pointers to customer service / contact details, though a good FAQ page will help keep enquiries to a minimum.
TIP #6: Show 'related items' and ideally, channel-specific navigation
Showing products that complement the item they are thinking of buying - or accessories worth throwing in the basket - is an excellent way of increasing average order values.
The other big win is a 'customers who bought this item also bought...' feature, as provided by Amazon. It is an excellent way of cross-selling, and encourages customers to continue searching through your site for more things to buy.
We also believe that if you are shopping for golf clubs, then it makes sense to make the navigation and promotional content units golf-related.
TIP #7: Reinforce customer trust
Kitemarks, third party verification logos, and visible customer support options all convey trust and respectability. They ease the mind of the prospective buyer, who might not know your brand.
And as we have already mentioned, user reviews are great at engendering trust.
TIP #8: Provide breadcrumb trails
This allows customers to see the steps they have taken so far to reach the product page, and provides them with a shortcut back to a previous point in their search.
Comet provides an example of this:
Breadcrumb trails also deliver the added benefit of allowing customers to refine their product searches by removing or revising certain product features, and saves them the hassle of beginning the search all over again.
It is of course completely acceptable to remove breadcrumb trails from the checkout process...
TIP #9: Don’t let customers begin to purchase out of stock items
If a product is out of stock, don’t allow customers to add the item to their basket, as this will only annoy and frustrate them once they reach the checkout. You will have wasted their time. Some people won't forgive you for such a crime...
Laura Ashley has made this mistake in the past - I know this from personal experience:
TIP #10: Have a CLEAR CALL TO ACTION
Display the buy it now / add to basket button prominently above the fold -don't make your customers search for it.
All buttons which lead the customer further along the purchase process should be the most prominent on view.
Also, make the meaning clear – avoid vague phrases such as ‘submit’ or ‘next step’, and give instructions like ‘buy it now’ or ‘place your order’.
Agree? Disagree? Any findings to share? Do let us know...
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