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Detailed product information is essential for achieving conversions as customers obviously can’t touch the product so retailers need to provide all the relevant details through images, product descriptions, reviews and videos.

This is an easy enough task for simple product such as DVDs, books and some clothing items, but electronics and other technical products require a great deal more information.

The challenge is then to try and present all the relevant information in a clear and concise manner that doesn’t cause the reader to lose interest and go elsewhere.

A case in point is the Samsung 3D 51” plasma TV which retails at around £1,800. It’s not the sort of purchase that most people will make on a whim, so retailers have to provide detailed information to ensure customers are happy to part with their cash.

With this in mind, I browsed a number of ecommerce sites to see how they deal with product descriptions for this particular TV.

And for more information on this topic, check out our blog post detailing six things to consider when writing product descriptions.

Currys

Currys gives just four bullet points of information above the fold but provides a hyperlink to more in-depth product details. 

The product description is well presented using sub-headings and short paragraphs, and the copywriting is also excellent as it uses persuasive writing to upsell the benefits of the device. 

However it runs to almost 1,200 words so it’s unlikely that anyone will bother to read it all.

Next to the full description there is also a summary table that just lists the product spec. This is obviously far easier to digest and I would think that most people would use this part as their main point of reference.

A snippet of Curry’s product details (click to enlarge)

Richer Sounds

Electronics retailer Richer Sounds has such a cluttered product page that it’s hard to digest any of the information – to be honest I’m not even sure if I can buy the product online.

There are no product details above the fold other than the standard details and name of the device.

The product description itself follows the same bullet point format as Currys but Richer Sounds hasn’t used paragraphs so each section appears as one single bulk of text. This makes it quite difficult to read and isn’t very user-friendly.

There is also a ‘Specifications’ tab which summarises the product details in a table format. It includes a useful explanation of what each feature means, so ‘screen size’ is defined as ‘measured diagonally in inches’ and ‘3D TV’ is explained as ‘Does it offer 3D viewing? Remember that glasses are not always included’.

This is a nice touch as not everyone is aware of what these terms mean.

John Lewis

Department store John Lewis only offers the basic product information above the fold and instead tries to upsell additional services such as installation and disposal of old devices.

The product information appears lower down the page and is presented as a long list of 19 bullet points under the heading “Key benefits.”

It’s quite daunting to look at and would benefit from being broken up with additional sub-headings to help the reader locate the information most important to them.

The bullets are followed by the product specifications, but rather than opting for a table format John Lewis presents the details in another long, unbroken list.

I feel the formatting of both lists could be greatly improved as it’s quite an arduous task for the reader to try and pick out the important information.

Sears

Department store Sears offers only the basic product description above the fold but includes a hyperlink to more in-depth information further down the page.

It has used a bullet point format where each has its own sub-heading to make the information easier to scan and digest – something John Lewis could certainly learn from.

Sears also displays the specifications and dimensions in a table alongside the description, however it is squashed into a thin column so some of the information is difficult to read.

Best Buy

Best Buy follows the same format as most of the other retailers, with most of the product information appearing beneath the fold.

The layout is clean and easy to read, and the copywriters have taken the time try and translate some of the features into language that all shoppers will understand – e.g. ‘Wi-Fi enabled’ becomes ‘Connect to the internet’.

Best Buy also improves the overall look of the page by only detailing five of the most important specifications followed by a big, blue call-to-action that links to the complete list.

Overall Best Buy has managed to create one of the most user-friendly pages on this list in terms of the design and copywriting.

Crampton and Moore

Crampton & Moore is another retailer that doesn’t include any product information at the top of the page, instead opting to promote a five-year warranty and its offer to beat any price on this product.

The detailed product information appears lower down the page and begins with a description of Samsung’s new panel technology, which I wouldn’t think is the kind of information that most shoppers are looking for.

There are then bullet points for the features and a table that offers a very limited summary of the product specifications.

Overall Crampton & Moore offers fairly limited product information for such an expensive and complicated product, so it's unlikely that consumers would find everything they need in order to make a considered purchase.

David Moth

Published 12 September, 2013 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

1680 more posts from this author

Comments (5)

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Shadrach Appiagyei

Product description can be easily neglected by retailers, but it is a key contributor to a better conversion.

Most of our clients have come to realise this and are the more thankful.

almost 3 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Brad

Interesting post. Not sure I agree with your points about Crampton's use of information. It is true that their product info does appears further down the page. It also starts with a description of Samsung’s new panel technology. I know you don't believe shoppers are looking for this information but - I am a shopper and do often look around for the detailed tech info - wherever it is located. The post is really helpful.

Thanks

Cheers

almost 3 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Matt Lovell, Group Head of Customer Insight & Analytics at Thomas Cook AirlinesEnterprise

It's interesting to see that no one, not even John Lewis, really seems to have got this right with Best Buy the closest to offering something useful and only Richer Sounds offering explanations for all the features.

Knowing various people who have recently bought new TVs and computers (none of whom are particularly tech savvy), I reckon there is definitely a gap in terms of what would help these purchasers make their decision (rather than just confusing them...)

almost 3 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Scott

Flixmedia supports most of the major retailers including JLP, Best Buy and Curry's in this area. We build and integrate beautifully rich product pages for them that have show time and again to increase sales conversion.

almost 3 years ago

dan barker

dan barker, E-Business Consultant at Dan Barker

Top secret, but many tech sites like these buy their product data from CNET:

http://www.cnetcontentsolutions.com/en-us/main/default.aspx

product copy sometimes comes from manufacturers too.

Some will use that as their 'baseline' content, and will rewrite/improve/clean it all up on featured products & more popular products.

Insight do this all very nicely for their market (technical people - IT buyers): http://uk.insight.com/en-gb/productinfo/laptops-and-notebooks/0002262625-00000001

Note the 'overview' contents there vs the extended 'specification'. Also worth noting that the attributes there also power comparison tools, and things like the 'Find Similar' tab down there on the left. (disclosure: I used to work there long ago, though I also did some work for one of the sites mentioned in the article oddly enough)

A few odd things people seem to care about on these sites, where they would not necessarily on others are:

1. Can you copy & paste it into word/excel/etc?
2. Is all content findable using 'ctrl+f'. (people get frustated there with hidden content. eg. with that insight link, you may have to flick to the 'specification' tab for that to work properly)
3. Are the attributes like-for-like. If some pages call it 'Connect to the internet' & some 'Wi-fi enabled', odd inconsistencies like that seem to annoy people no end, most likely as it hampers their ability to make a confident choice.
4. Predictability in a wider sense. On 'non-consumer' tech sites, usually buyers will be fairly technical, and very loyal. Often they will 'learn' how to use the site as they go along, and will become much more used to the site than and a particulr way of working with it than (say) a Debenhams visitor would be. As a result, when things change they have to relearn things. Same is true for URLs, etc, which people may bookmark for much longer periods & come back to rebuy consumables, etc. In that respect, they're often a bit more like apps than websites, where you can really annoy people by making minor changes.

Joining together '1' & '4' there, as a silly example, I once made 'manufacturer part numbers' clickable (largely for SEO purposes), which led to piles of complaints from users who would copy & paste them into excel for later & now had to be a bit more careful in copy & pasting.

almost 3 years ago

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