20 June 2019
By Drew Smith
Drew is the Director of Product Strategy at Volo and focuses on how technology can help brands and retailers deliver what their customers want.
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Optimising your product listings is demanding. Yet, quality product listings are essential if you want your products to sell.
The first factor that makes a product listing effective is its searchability — how easily it can be found through search queries. Next on the list is its clickability — how compelled customers will be to click on your listing once it has been seen. Lastly, your product listings need to drive conversions.
Remember, online customers can’t touch, see or feel your products. Your product listings need to do that for them. You need details, images and captivating copy. Your product listings need to place your products in the best light possible, but they must remain honest to avoid returns. They also need to fit the specific criteria of each channel in order to have a chance at being seen in the first place.
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If you are listing a large number of products online, across multiple channels, you will struggle to give each product listing all of the quality and effort it deserves.
Here, we’re going to look at how you can optimise your product listings for visibility and engagement, driving conversions by creating a quality online shopping experience. Then, we will provide tips on how to get this done without overloading your ecommerce teams.
The more relevant information you can provide about the products you’re selling, the better. The information needs to be clear and compelling, speaking directly to what the consumer expects out of the product.
Product listing copy must be both informative and appealing at the same time. If you’re not sure what your listings are missing, check your competitors. Do they have a writing flair that yours don’t? Are they including details that you’re not? Fill in the gaps, ensuring that you highlight the unique attributes of the product. Communicate what the photos can’t — its value, sensation, or central draw. The more complex the product, the more crucial it will be to have a detailed description. This helps minimises any concerns or doubts that will prevent closing the sale.
Different platforms have different criteria they prioritise in product listings. Knowing the most important attributes and fields will allow you to optimise your listing for each channel. This is critical to achieving visibility in organic rankings and appearing in filtered searches.
The filtered search criteria, for example, between Google Shopping, Amazon, eBay and your own website will all be different. You cannot simply import and export the same terms between different channels — you need to tailor the listings to be optimised for the specific channel on which they will appear.
Make sure, at a minimum, that you fill in all of the attribute fields within a listing. These often include colour, material, size, etc. Including this information will help match your product with specific search queries. Even if you cannot optimise the language used, this will give you a boost in the rankings.
The title will be the first piece of text a customer sees about your product — think about what that experience should be.
Different platforms provide different character limits, and these character limits are generally longer than the number of characters that will be displayed to shoppers in the thumbnail. Google Shopping, for example, has a 150 character limit, but normally only shows 70 characters in the snippet.
These limitations mean that you need to get your most compelling information up front. There are different best practices for different channels. For Amazon and Google Shopping, you should lead with your brand name. On all channels, it is best practice for your titles to include:
Make sure that within this mass of information your title still makes sense. Specifically with keywords, do not stuff keywords if they damage readability — the same goes for the use of keywords in product descriptions.
Product listings need images. A picture is worth a thousand words. Amazon, for example, allows you to include 9 images — take advantage of that.
Your images should be clean, high resolution, from multiple angles (some with models, some without) and against a clean background that does not distract from your product. If you can, include a video as well.
Online shoppers rely on images to imagine the products. Product descriptions are critical to getting your product seen and making your listing appear professional, but high-quality images drive conversions.
Once your product listings are live, you need to maintain the data you supplied. You don’t want someone to make a purchase only to find out that the product is out of stock — this can tarnish your reputation.
Third-party platforms, like Google Shopping, are conscious of this and will probe your website to make sure that your internal information matches what you supplied to their platform. If they are out of sync, your listing can be taken down. Potentially, your account can be suspended. You need mechanisms in place to keep all of your listings up to date with the latest changes to product styles, sizings, availability and price.
For large brands, creating product listings is a never-ending struggle. You need systems and processes in place to give you the best chance of crafting the detailed specifics (such as compelling copy and quality images) that will sell your products. Centralised data, information gathering and automation should be central to your ecommerce strategy.
Rather than uploading new product data manually to image services, spreadsheets, website systems and ERPs, it could be much more convenient to keep it all in one place.
Having a centralised storage location for your data makes it easier for your team to find it, reformat it and upload it to multiple places much more quickly than having to manually submit it time and time again.
The less time spent on the busywork of getting product listings ready, the more time can be spent on writing creative, engaging listings and improving your campaigns. Furthermore, if your data is centralised, you’re less likely to make mistakes due to input errors.
With as much effort as it takes to upload all product listings to one platform, nevermind multiple, online store owners are looking for tools to make it much easier. Modern, purpose-built ecommerce software can help you manage, transport, and optimise those listings much more easily, demanding less time from you and your team.
With a wide range of items and channels, it’s too much work to create and input new listings manually. Those variations in labelling and attribute formatting on different channels will be enough to drive your team to distraction. Yet, those nuances are necessary to optimise your results across platforms.
What’s the answer? Automation, of course. There are ecommerce software solutions built for just this reason. They can allow you to optimise and streamline your product data management. This includes finding and filling missing information, and adapting your data to new channels with a mixture of data centralisation and effective AI. Channel specific criteria can be pulled right from the source and use to improve the quality of your listing data, while removing the manual tasks of filling in forms at the same time.
Using automation solutions, half of the work behind a great product listing is already done for you, across all channels in less time. It reduces the strain that repetitive, time-consuming work puts on your team. This allows your ecommerce team to focus on maximising customer engagement and building the brand image.
The product listings you have live are a great source of data on what resonated with different platforms and your customer base. Review those analytics to see what works and what does not.
The challenge in reviewing your current listings is sifting through the sheer number of products. It can be hard to spot points that need improvement amongst hundreds or thousands of items distributed across several channels. Analytic tools are the key, but it is still difficult to read actionable steps from all the data you’re gathering.
Again, ecommerce software can help. Using AI to gather and digest the analytic data provided, ecommerce platforms can curate actual solutions that your team can read and understand. This might include especially effective keywords and images, optimal product categories, trends in customer purchasing habits to take advantage of and more.
AI is changing the way that we buy and sell online, bringing with it the insight and adaptability that we simply can’t keep up with. The data we gather is becoming more and more valuable, and AI-driven ecommerce platforms can help you make more effective use of it.
Managing product listings that really sell means maintaining a balance. They need to be convincing and compelling, while also being optimised in their data to make sure they get the maximum amount of exposure across all the channels that they’re on.
Purpose-built ecommerce platforms can take care of a lot of the work for you, as they automate your product data and provide the AI-driven insights to help you enrich and validate your product listings. From there, your team is free to create the copy that convinces the customer once the data catches them.
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