One of the main tasks of e-commerce website owners is to create product descriptions. While that might seem like an easy decision, you might be surprised at how much work needs to go into ensuring they help, not hurt, your sales.

The good news is creating compelling product descriptions for your e-commerce website shouldn’t take up too much time or money. It’s mostly a matter of getting into the right mindset.

Key Takeaways

  • Product descriptions aren’t about describing products but about selling them
  • 88% of consumers place a lot of importance on product descriptions in their buying decisions
  • Bad product descriptions result in 20% lost sales
  • Product descriptions must be customer-centric and scannable
  • Images, reviews, and product details are crucial for sales-generating product descriptions

What Are Product Descriptions

Contrary to what most people think, product descriptions in your e-commerce website aren’t only about describing products. They’re about selling products. They should compel the reader to buy the product by qualifying why it’s the best thing they can buy for themselves. Product descriptions also help you rank well in search engines through relevant search terms and keywords.

You can think of product descriptions as the sales assistant you typically encounter in a brick-and-mortar store. A sales assistant welcomes you to the store, asks about your needs, and explains why you should buy a particular product to meet those needs.

Since an e-commerce product description must do all these things with much less interaction, you need to create one that anticipates a potential buyer’s needs and addresses their pain points.

If you manage to do that, you can draw in the customer and increase your sales. Meanwhile, if you mess up the job, you’ll drive them away.

What Is an Example of a Bad Product Description?

Before delving into what you need to do, here are some things to avoid:

  • Having no product description at all
  • Copying the description from the manufacturer or another seller
  • Giving too many technical details
  • Sticking to just images, no content
  • Focusing more on the brand than the customer
  • Using small or hard-to-read fonts
  • Creating content with spelling errors and grammatical mistakes

Below is a good example of a bad product description on Amazon:

bad product description example
Source: Amazon

It provides a wealth of detail and images, but it has a ton of spelling and grammatical mistakes. It also focuses on the technical details, tacking on hilarious statements, such as “sweet detail design of male-specific” ― almost as an afterthought. A customer needs to look hard to find the benefits of buying this product.

What Is an Example of a Good Product Description?

A good product description is also full of information, but the focus is on persuading the reader to buy it right now. The content and images should highlight those product features that directly benefit the reader.

For example, a pet owner of an excitable dog with a fussy stomach might feel this product bundle from Finn would be a good buy.

comfy pup bundle
Source: Finn

The text is short but persuasive because it directly addresses the buyer’s issues. It also provides some technical details, but just enough to explain how the products work.

What Should Be Included in E-Commerce Product Descriptions?

The most difficult part of doing anything new is getting started. Here are the key elements you need to include in your product descriptions:

  • Headline: This is the hook to reel your customer in; make it descriptive and persuasive by connecting with them on a psychological or emotional level, such as Comfy Pup Bundle
  • Overview: A short paragraph that starts with an action word; explains why you should buy the product, such as “Put your dog’s stomach and mind at ease with the Comfy Pup Bundle” and how the product works
  • Benefits: A bulleted list of features and product details ― no more than five
  • Motivation: Any content that spurs them to buy, such as urgency ― like limited stocks ― rave reviews, or social proof; include a call-to-action (CTA) like Buy Now
the exercise dress
Source: Outdoor Voices

If you sell on Amazon, third-party tools to create effective product descriptions are available for your use. These tools help you rank well on the platform. But if you’re an independent seller, you can use tools provided by some of the best e-commerce website builders to get your product descriptions right. BigCommerce, for instance, offers features to create a more satisfying and personalized customer experience.

simplify ecommerce management
Source: BigCommerce

Why Are Product Descriptions Important?

The fact is people read product descriptions. They might not read all of it, but what they see helps them decide whether to buy or bounce. According to a survey by Salsify, 88% of consumers say that product descriptions play an important role in their buying decisions.

The survey also emphasizes the importance of providing product information, including images and reviews. Approximately 66 percent want to see at least three images, 87% check reviews, and 94% won’t buy if they can’t find product information. Another more conservative report reveals that 20% of lost sales are directly attributable to the absence of product information.

Given its importance and how little it takes to improve product descriptions, it makes sense to invest in it for your e-commerce store.

How To Write Product Descriptions That Make Customers Buy

The following tips can help you write product descriptions that sell:

  • Speak directly to your customer
  • Watch your tone
  • Think minimalist with tech specs
  • Sell an experience
  • Make it scannable

Now that you know the what and why of product descriptions, the next step is finding out how to write them so customers make purchases. Don’t worry ― you don’t need to be a professional copywriter or marketer. The key is to have a customer-centric mindset. Here are some tips to get you there.

Speak Directly to Your Customer

Don’t try to sell to everyone as that disrupts your focus, and your product descriptions come off as generic. Instead, create content as if you’re that sales assistant and are speaking to a customer in person. Make it direct and personal.

Creating content that speaks to the customer directly is easier than you might think. If you have spent any time in e-commerce, you probably have a pretty good idea of your ideal customer. Use that to figure out how to create content. Put yourself in their shoes and think about your pain points. Now try to imagine what you would like to see in the product description to address those pain points.

Here’s a great example:

disinfecting wet mopping cloths
Source: Clorox

Two of the biggest pain points of homeowners are cleaning and disinfecting. If you can clean and disinfect at the same time, you solve two problems simultaneously. It smells good, too.

Watch Your Tone

If you know your buyer persona for each product, you need to figure out the tone and voice to use to speak to them. A homeowner would appreciate straightforward talk about the benefits of a cleaning product. But a younger audience might appreciate a bit more pizzazz in the description. Check out the one from Oodie below:

avocado oodie
Source: Oodie

Notice the use of informal and emotional words like toasty-warm and cuddly soft and even emojis in the product description? That’s because Oodie appeals to a younger audience who responds to that voice.

The way you speak often has a significant impact on the reception of what you say. If you and the buyer were in the same room, you could use the exact words but change their meaning by changing the tone. Since you deal strictly with written text in product descriptions, you must use words in the emotional context that your buyers understand and appreciate.

In many cases, you can trigger a response using humor ― provided it fits your brand message ― which is always memorable. You can also use nostalgia to associate the product with a positive recollection. Here’s a subtly funny one from the Dollar Shave Club:

prep scrub trial size
Source: Dollar Shave Club

If a product description can make your audience smile or laugh, you’re halfway to a sale.

Think Minimalist With Tech Specs

Technical specifications are necessary, but they’re not the hero of the product description. They should only be in a supporting role. In the Finn Comfy Pup Bundle example, the product description includes the ingredients in the products to explain their effects on the dog:

minimalist product description
Source: Finn

A dog owner care won’t care that the product has valerian root unless you tell them that it promotes calm and relaxation to an overstressed dog. Use only tech specs necessary to push the product’s benefits and keep the language simple.

Even when creating a product description for a technical product, such as a laptop, you need to mention the tech specs related to the machine’s performance to benefit the buyer. You can have a separate tab or section to list all the tech specs but keep it out of the product description.

Sell an Experience

When you book an island getaway, you’re not buying a ticket or a hotel room stay. You’re purchasing the experience of being in that place. Keep that in mind when you create a product description that sells. You want your readers to imagine how the product provides them with a unique experience. Check out this product description for a Space Candle.

a candle that smells like an outer space
Source: Vat19.com

Most people would have no idea how space smells, but the product description persuades you that it’s possible to capture the essence of the experience.

Make It Scannable

A 1997 study revealed that 79% of people only skim 16% of web content. While that study was done decades ago, we can assume that the figures are even worse now. Research in 2000 suggests that the average human has an attention span of 12 seconds, down to 8.25 seconds in 2015.

Given these statistics, you want to keep your product descriptions scannable and efficient. Make your point right out of the gate in the headline and follow it up with great images or videos and a short but informative description. Here’s an excellent example of a scannable product description:

scannable product description example
Source: Kettle & Fire

The product description doesn’t even have bulleted points, but the two-sentence description provides everything a buyer needs to decide to buy.

What Should You Do Next?

Use the tips and examples given above to write or rewrite your product descriptions. Be sure to conduct split tests to find the best combination for generating the most sales. You may be surprised at the impact they have on your bottom line.

If you need more help with your e-commerce business, check out our article on increasing e-commerce conversion rates.