11 July 2019
By Jon Akass
Jon is a Product Owner at Volo, and writes about how retailers and brands can improve their ecommerce performance.
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You aren't in the game if you aren't online. With over 51% of UK customers now selecting online shopping as their preferred method, it has become essential for retailers and fashion brands to have a strong online presence.
At the heart of your ecommerce presence are your product listings. It is essential to have fully optimised product listing pages (PLP) as these will assist the customer’s experience when making purchasing decisions. But what exactly does a good product listing look like?
Buying online isn’t like buying in a store. You can’t see, touch or feel the product. You don’t have the experience of the store confirming your perceptions of the brand. You can’t walk away with the product today.
All of these sensory experiences and reassurances need to be delivered by your product listings. In a landing page, you somehow need to convey the feeling of trying on a shirt, looking through the pockets of a bag, or smelling a leather jacket. How do you do that?
We could describe to you attributes of great product listings — in other posts, we have gone into detail on product listings that drive sales. But, what better way to really understand a quality product listing than to look at examples that shine. This is our list of product listings you need to emulate to thrive online, grab clicks, drive conversions and grow.
A well-crafted title is critical to drive clicks and get your product seen in the first place. We will get to the importance of photos, but your title is not only one of the first things a shopper will see, it drives your search ranking.
Channels such as Google Shopping and Amazon weigh keywords used in titles heavily when determining what search results your product will appear in. Long titles allow you to describe attributes of a product, helping your product appear in long tail search results. Those details will also grab the attention of shoppers who know what they want.
Take this skirt for example. The retailer has used as many descriptive terms in the title as possible, including information like colour and size. You can also see that they prioritised their brand and product name. This is important because, depending on the channel, your entire title might not be included in the snippet.
The kind of detail you see here will increase impressions and drive clicks from the exact people looking for this product. That is what you need to drive sales, and precisely what you want out of a product listing title.
Product descriptions can feel daunting for retailers, but they’re easy enough to tackle if you focus on the customer. Think about what your product delivers that the customer will value — then write about that.
You should focus on providing an outline of benefits which address possible objections, create a sense of urgency, and deliver that in a format that is simple enough for a customer to scan. You want detail, but try and frame every aspect of your description around how that customer’s life could be better if they invested in your product.
As you can see from this Nike example, writers have outlined basic features in a list that is easy to scan. There are product details here, but each is ended in a statement related to benefit — ‘lightweight cushioning’, ‘multi-surface traction’, ‘efficient stride’. Without being overwhelmed with information, shoppers walk away knowing the value of this product to them. All of the details that a buyer would want are here — it’s easy to read and simple to understand.
When writing descriptions, however, you need to keep in mind channel specific requirements. On your own website, you are in charge. On Amazon, Google Shopping, Instagram Shopping, etc, you need to make sure that you tailor each listing to the specific channel requirements in order to maximise visibility. If shoppers don’t see your ad, you don’t have a chance of making a sale.
Not only is visibility an issue, but a poor quality description will make a customer reluctant to buy. Without the luxury of physically seeing and feeling the product, the customer is taking a risk in purchasing from you, so you need to make the description as clear as possible to replicate the in-store experience for the consumer. Descriptions need to strike a balance between not overwhelming consumers with information but providing enough to make the consumer feel confident to purchase.
Let’s face it, even the best product listing isn’t going to secure sales if customers can’t actually complete a purchase.
The good news is that this couldn’t be simpler. Most times, an ‘add to basket’ or ‘buy now’ button is all it takes. On third-party sites (like Amazon) this will be out of your hands. But when it comes to your own website, you need to make sure that there is a clear path to making a purchase.
In this example from Asos, your eye is quickly drawn to the clearly labelled ‘add to bag’ button. It is positioned on the right-hand side, next to size information — something shoppers have come to expect from Amazon listings.
Also note that the CTA is green on a white background. Bright and distinctive colours draw the eye. Green, specifically, is subconsciously associate with positive action — think traffic lights.
Whatever you do, make sure that your CTA is clearly placed and distinct. If you make it difficult for shoppers to proceed, they will bounce before completing.
Price matters to your consumers as much as it matters to you. Even if customers like what they see, there’s little chance of them completing the purchase with no obvious price listed. They’ll simply assume that your product is too expensive, and will instead seek it elsewhere. Make sure that doesn’t happen by always being clear about the price. Ideally, you want to list this in bold type underneath your descriptive title. Avoid ballpoint figures. A concise price is sure to lead to more conversions.
This example lists the price in exact terms right under the title description. Shoppers are basically forced to read the price as they check the title to make sure they are on the right page.
You should also be clear on any additional costs, like delivery. Customers are likely to bounce at checkout if there are any added costs that they weren’t originally made clear, so be sure you list everything before they hit the checkout button.
Customer expectations online are always rising. It’s no longer a bonus to include high-quality images and videos, it has become essential. Visual representations are your most powerful feature able to compensate for the fact that online shoppers cannot touch or try on your products as they would in the store. The use of multiple images and videos can go a long way towards providing the assurance shoppers need to make a purchase.
One picture, however, will not do. You need context, angles and quality. The higher the resolution the better. Show the product by itself and being used in everyday life.
This listing from Nike is excellent. Shoppers are simultaneously confronted with high-resolution photos of the product from all angles and on a model. Nothing is left to the imagination. The background is clean and the eye is drawn right to the picture.
The use of video on listing pages is also becoming increasingly popular. Studies show that videos could increase page conversion rates anywhere from 84%-144%. If you have the capabilities, highly consider augmenting your listing with a video of your product in action.
Seen here on Asos, nearly every listing on the site has a video accompanying the product. This is just one of the many reasons that Asos has done so well online in recent years.
Where fashion is concerned, videos of models wearing clothes provide the changing-room ability to see how something fits or looks when it’s on. And, that could give customers the confidence to press ‘add to cart’.
Looking to the future, going one step further and including 360-degree product views that mimic the physical experience of handling an item may become the norm. Getting ahead of the curve on this one will allow you to stand out today.
When it comes to buying online, you don’t always know what the product you’re buying is like. Consumers will find it difficult to scope out the product — such as the quality, clothing fit and image accuracy — and therefore they will be more inclined to look at customer reviews. This is why including easy-to-read customer reviews and ratings (also known as social proof) is critical to your listing pages. Consumers rely heavily on reviews when making purchasing decisions and this is demonstrated in studies that suggest reviews are twelve times more powerful than marketing claims and consumers trust reviews just as much as personal recommendations.
There’s certainly no denying that customer endorsements seem to hold more sway in securing conversions. Make sure, then, that you include at least your latest reviews, complete with star ratings, on every single product page. These will not only help a consumer’s buying decisions, but will also help build retail credibility in the online market.
Anyone buying something online is making a leap of faith. No matter how good your product descriptions and images are, the shopper has never seen your product and (more importantly) has never tried it on.
If people know that they can return their purchase if they don’t like it, or simply exchange it for another size, that can make a huge difference when making their purchase decisions. You have to be prepared to process the returns and ship new items in a timely manner. Ecommerce sites like Asos have proven the value of a flexible returns policy when it comes to dominating online retail sales.
However, there are lessons of moderation to be learned from ASOS as well. They are currently in the process of changing their returns policy to discourage repeat returns, and people taking advantage of the system to effectively ‘rent’ clothes. When it comes to your returns policy, online retailers should be strategic and meet customers in the middle. A returns policy that is too lenient could massively increase returns and cut into profit margins, one that is too strict will divert customers away from your site.
A good product listing comes down to detail and walking a customer through an easy and intuitive shopping experience in which they feel comfortable and informed. That starts with a title and high quality images, and continues to everything from your returns policy to how easy it is to find your ‘add to basket’ button. Make sure prices are clear and easy to find and write informative descriptions that stress value.
Of course, none of these factors are going to help if you don’t also learn the importance of continually assessing page performance. Reliable analytics are the best way to see which listing page techniques are producing results, and which need more attention.
Keeping on top of this for every product isn’t easy, which is where ecommerce platforms come in. By regularly considering listing page metrics, such platforms can work to automatically improve every listing page to ensure more regular conversions, all of the time. They pull customer insight data from across the web and display it in a single and easy to review place.
Modern ecommerce is far more than just your website. You need high quality in-house product listings, but you also need to be present on alternative channels such as Amazon, Google Shopping, eBay, Instagram, Facebook and more. Creating high quality product listings on these channels requires far more in depth understanding of the data criteria each has and requires of you to rank in search results.
Ecommerce platforms not only help with your data management, they automate aspects of listing optimisation. Pulling listing requirements directly from the source, these platforms allow you to easily meet the specific data requirements of Google Shopping, or channels like Amazon, and show up in filtered search criteria. You will also be freed from the laborious task of cross-referencing listings to make sure that all of your price, size and quantity updates get distributed across every channel.
By deploying automated ecommerce software, the technicalities of listing are minimised, and you can focus on the creative aspects of listing management such as writing good copy and producing high quality images. Then, you need to focus on your overarching campaign. There is more to success online that your product listings. But without high-quality product listings, your other efforts will be in vain. By applying these top tips, and emulating the listings of top performing brands, you will soon join their ranks — good luck!
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