Take a look at the cult brands. GoPro, Apple, Nike. Their websites are design statements, intended to hook you on a culture as much as a product. They are miniature works of art compared to the database-driven product listings of most eCommerce websites.
Now, look at the same products on Amazon. The page for the latest new GoPro Hero 5 camera is nearly indistinguishable in layout and design from the page for laundry detergent. Arguably, GoPro sells at least as many cameras and accessories through Amazon as it does directly through its website. Why the difference?
One main thing that Amazon and GoPro understand is that the first part of buying online is learning. GoPro’s website, along with carefully curated social media, independent review sites and forums, as well as traditional media, are designed for you to learn. Once you have educated yourself about the product and made a purchase decision, the second part of buying online is the actual transaction. Amazon, with its standard interface, quick checkout and fast delivery, is optimized for the transaction, not the learning.
When designing your website, you need to understand whether your pages are there to educate and create a consumer demand, or if they are there to fulfil transactions. If your merchandise is mostly commodity items such as electronics or branded clothing, then you are likely working much more on the transaction side.
In store, you make the sale by creating desire for the product “right now”. The customer won’t continue shopping elsewhere because their mindset has shifted to this product being “theirs” and the transaction is now a formality. Your product page has to evoke this sort of mindset or the sale can be lost in a click.
What are the best websites doing to make sure they turn traffic into transactions? Let’s find out.
High-quality, compelling visuals
This should be a no brainer considering we are living in the age of Instagram. You need to have a great product shot, detail shots of all the key aspects and action shots of the product in use. The photos should be professionally staged, shot and edited. Show photos of each colour of the product if necessary, don’t make the user guess what “Midwinter Blue” is.
TIP: If you can’t afford professional photography for every SKU, use it where it’s most effective. 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your products, make it a priority to budget for professional photos l for at least that 20%.
Content that speaks to the customer
If your product description is all about the product, you are doing it wrong. Talk to the customer instead.Have your ideal customer in mind when you write the product description and craft a story for them. This is why the manufacturer description is not the best thing to copy and paste over to your website. The manufacturer’s job was to sell the product to you! It’s your job to sell it to the customer.
TIP: Develop a product “voice”. Thinkgeek.com has a humorous, irreverent tone to its product descriptions. Lee Valley talks about reliability and craftsmanship to evoke traditional values. The tone of your product descriptions is an extension of your brand.
All the details
Does your size guide include UK sizes? Do you have the size and weight of the package as well as of the product? Interior dimensions? Thread count? Post-consumer waste content? You need to give the customer all the information. There is going to be some key detail that a customer needs to make a decision. Don’t send them elsewhere to find out or they will probably not come back.
TIP: Rent the Runway lists the height of the model in product photos. Sizing varies so much for different brands; this is a great way to give a sense of size and shape of a garment. As well, “Our model Shelly is 5’10 and 135 pds and she is wearing a size medium” is much more personal for your customer than the typical “28” Waist – Medium” on a size chart.
I’ll hold that for you
Often when I’m shopping in the real world, I’ll pick out an item like pants, then walk around with it looking for a shirt. Then I decide I want a belt or socks as well. At this point, the salesperson will usually take the items aside or up to the cash. This leaves me free to explore other items. It also makes those first items an “assumed sale”. They are up at the cash ready to go, of course I’ll buy them on my way out. Why is an eCommerce shopping cart I started on the couch last night, empty the next morning when I go back to the website? Or even worse, after I’ve accidentally closed the browser window?
TIP: Besides making sure things in carts stay in carts, use wish lists for people who are putting ideas together. Make those wish lists easy to share on social media or email. William Sonoma, MEC and Amazon all have great wish list models.
Pull up your product page and the same item from your competition. Do you have the same product shots? The same text? Do they have details or selections you don’t? Your page has to be at least as good as your competition, so make sure you have those bases covered. Then decide how you will go the extra mile and provide something your competition doesn’t.
TIP: Hubba.com is a great new product website where manufacturers are posting product shots, information, promotional material and even video for their products. Use this to quickly fill in your product pages. But make sure to edit and evolve the material to make it your own!