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With consumers now doing more of their shopping online than in brick-and-mortar stores, those who don’t offer their products online are missing out on a growing segment of the consumer population. However, building an online store isn’t simply a matter of posting a few pictures and providing a brief description.
Because users are not able to view products in person before they buy, you (as the seller) should strive to create a product listing that engages as many of the person’s senses as possible so that they can get a full picture of the product they want to buy. We know that people who walk into physical stores can engage all five of their senses, making it more likely they’ll complete the purchase — how do you recreate this experience (to the best of your ability) with an e-commerce store?
In this article, we’ll go over what makes a great product listing and how you can write the perfect description for the products you’re selling.
Qualities of a Great Product Listing
Instead of tackling every aspect of a great product listing at once, we’ll cover each aspect individually.
Overall Page Design
When it comes to designing your product listing pages, less is more. What you want to do is make it easy for your customers to find what they’re looking for, and this means:
- White backgrounds
- Black (or dark-colored) text
- No distractions.
However, following these rules don’t mean that your pages have to be boring. Let’s look at some examples to see how we can follow these rules and still be interesting.
You’re probably familiar with Amazon’s page design: titles in large font, reasonably sized images that you can zoom in on if you want to know more, and a large yellow “Add to Cart” button to the right. Without scrolling, you can get a pretty good picture of the what the item is, its features, and important details like the dimensions.
eBags (above) takes a slightly different approach from Amazon. Rather than emphasizing written descriptions, eBags gives detailed images in a variety of perspectives most of the above-the-fold space. You can easily make your selections and Add to Cart with little hassle.
Zappos has chosen a layout that’s closer to eBags’ than Amazon’s. Again, we see a prime focus on images and the call-to-action area.
In the end, it should be your content that shines, with your page design supporting the content. It can be tempting to include all sorts of bells and whistles in terms of design, but to increase the likelihood that the customer converts and completes their purchases, you should minimize the distractions that might prevent the customer from doing so.
- If you’re in need of design inspiration, HubSpot rounded up 14 of the best product page design examples they’ve seen
- For additional examples, check out WebpageFX’s list of 30 beautiful e-commerce product page designs
- Shopify has a list of 7 effective e-commerce product pages; this page, however, differs from the two above in that the author discusses why a given page is effective and how you might accomplish the same effect.
The Product Title
The title of your product is one of the first (if not the first) things people will see when looking at your product. At a glance, your title should tell your customer exactly what the item is, as well as any key features or characteristics.
For example, you might have something like “Girls Insulated Waterproof Jacket in Purple and Blue.”
There’s a lot of debate as to the optimal length of a title. Amazon.com, one of the biggest sellers in e-commerce, allows you 250 characters for your title. As such, some argue that you should use up as much of this real estate offered to you as possible. Others, however, argue that short and to-the-point is the best option.
Regardless of which option you choose, the most important keywords should be placed at the beginning of your title. You can use any remaining space for keywords that help you convert (for example, if you’re selling a product made of bamboo, the word “bamboo” should appear near the beginning — you can include the fact that it’s biodegradable later on at that point, since people are less likely to perform a vague and generic search for biodegradable goods).
Another thing to consider when writing your product titles is SEO. Do you know what terms and keywords most frequently lead to your website? If not, we recommend that you perform the relevant keyword research and analysis to see if you can change up your terms to improve your product pages rankings. Remember: you have some space when it comes to listing titles, so take advantage of this and include as many keywords as you can to maximize the number of people you reach via search. Bonus: this research is also useful for setting your webpage’s meta tags so that you get indexed appropriately.
- Check out Zyber’s How to Write a Good Product Title? for tips on getting started with great titles
- Vertical Rail has an article on how to write Amazon product titles — even if you don’t sell on Amazon, you might find the tips helpful. Amazon is pretty much the gold standard of e-commerce, so if something works on Amazon, it’s likely to work elsewhere as well
- BigCommerce has an article for improving existing product titles called Convert Like Amazon: Improve Your Product Titles and Descriptions in an Afternoon — again, even if you aren’t selling on Amazon, you’ll find the suggestions helpful.
Product Images and Videos
A picture is worth a thousand words, but these pictures have to be excellent. To go above and beyond those who offer excellent images, you might consider adding videos of your products.
As an example, let’s look at one of the product pages for Zappos.
There are several features to note here:
- There are multiple photographs of these shoes, all of which have been shot on a white background that doesn’t distract from the product itself
- Each photo shows just one perspective of the shoes, but since we have multiple perspectives available to us, we can get a pretty good idea of what the product looks like in 3-D
- The pictures are large and have high resolution, so we can zoom in closely if we wanted to.
If the product you’re selling comes in multiple sizes, you might create diagrams showing how big it is in relation to somebody of a specific height (or something with a known size). For example, if I were interested in the medium-sized Timbuk2 messenger bag, I can easily see how it looks on a real person (and imagine how it might look on me).
Remember, one big downside to online shopping is that the buyer can’t really get a feel for what the product is like — all of these visuals can compensate for this.
Note that the Zappos listing for the Rockport Sharna shoes has a video icon underneath the photos. A Zappos employee spends 40 seconds talking briefly about the shoes, as well as modeling them. It’s a simple video shot on a white background, but you certainly get an idea of what the shoes look like (and not just in 2-D).
On this particular page, Zappos employee spends 40 seconds talking briefly about the shoes, as well as modeling them. It’s a simple video shot on a white background, but you certainly get an idea of what the shoes look like, and a feel for the overall size.
Viewers of products that include video descriptions are over 64% more likely to purchase the item in question. And while creating high-quality content can be an expensive proposition, high-quality images are not optional — they are 100% mandatory if you want the item to sell well.
- For a crash course in product photography, check out Shopify’s blog post entitled The Ultimate DIY Guide to Beautiful Product Photography
- You don’t need an expensive camera to capture great photos (though if you can afford it, go for it) — learn how to capture high-quality product photos with your smartphone
- If you’re going to create product videos, learn how to create ones that sell and convert
- Vimeo has a great article featuring nine tips for creating killer product videos.
Product reviews are the digital version of someone asking a friend, “Do you have any recommendations for [product]?” They are a very important part of your product description, since people will go here to see how your item fares in use and over time.
Product reviews are the one thing that’s out of your control, but that doesn’t mean that all is lost. You might think that you’ll get the best results by including only reviews that sing your praises, but it turns out that customers are more trusting of product listings if they include both positive and negative reviews.
People might even suspect censorship or faked reviews if they don’t see anything negative mentioned. Therefore, it’s important that you include all reviews.
In the United States, the Consumer Review Fairness Act means businesses cannot use non-disparagement clauses to prevent bad reviews. So be sure to publish all reviews, and don’t try to dissuade people from writing what they think.
There are multiple aspects of a good product description:
- The manufacturer’s specifications for the product. You should strive to include as much of this as possible, including product dimensions, weight, materials used, and so on. This is practical information that helps your customers decide if the item is right for them or not.
- The description of the product. While you want to give your customers the information they’re looking for, you have a bit more room to be creative in this area. For example, if you’re selling a day pack, you might write a bit about how it can be used both as an on-the-go bag for parents who don’t want a traditional diaper bag or by those who need something small when going on hiking adventures with a significant other.
There are a lot of ways you can go with the descriptive portion of your listing. Here are some tips to help you craft your narrative:
- Figure out who you’re selling to: for some products, this is easy. For others, you might have to do a little digging (if you have the appropriate analytics, you might use this information to figure out who is looking at your product). This will help you determine what your sellers are interested in and how you can cater to that demand
- Talk about the product features: we already mentioned including the manufacturer’s specifications, but if there are other features not captured in the standard description, make sure you include information about these. Remember, though, that the goal is to tell the customer how the product can help them or how it can improve their lives
- Write so that your description can easily be scanned: research indicates that people only read about 16% of words on a given page, so make it easy for your users to pick out the important parts of your description. Use things like line breaks, bullet points, and bold or italicized fonts for especially important words and key terms.
Increase Your Engagement
No matter how well written your description, there’s likely to be something you missed. If you can, implement some method by which your customers can ask and get answers to their questions. The more information the user has, the more likely it is there aren’t lingering questions preventing them from making their purchase.
Samsung, after it implemented question-and-answer areas for their products across Bazaarvoice’s network, saw double the number of product views. While this doesn’t necessarily mean double the conversion, it’s reasonable to assume that conversions did rise simply due to the increased interest shown and the additional information offered to the customer so that they can make a well-informed choice when purchasing.
- If you need more help writing great product descriptions, check out Shopify‘s list of nine different ways to write your content
- LemonStand rounds up twelve websites that do fantastic product descriptions, so check these out for examples and inspiration
- For a full walk-through of the creative process, see The Complete Guide to Writing Product Descriptions That Convert.
If possible, you should include information about practical considerations on your product listing pages, including shipping and delivery information, taxes, and so on. What you include will vary, but because people tend to not like surprises when they’re making online purchases (especially if these surprises are financially related), think through what your customer needs to know if they opt for your product. As an example, let’s revisit the eBags listing:
Not only do we see that we get free shipping with this product, we see detailed shipping information. We also see Rewards information, which might help tip the scales in terms of whether we spring for the purchase here on eBags or go to a competitor to make our purchase.
Call-to-Action Buttons and Indicators
If you have sufficient control over the call-to-action indicators on your page, you should strongly consider adding functionality so that your users can make their purchases quickly and easily. The goal of this is two-fold: first, you want people to be able to make decisions and complete the purchase as quickly as possible before they can change their minds. Second, each additional step that you require the customer to take before they complete their purchase increases the likelihood they’ll abandon their cart and the purchase itself.
If you need more ideas for calls to action, check out these seven examples.
With an increasing number of shoppers preferring to shop online over visiting a brick-and-mortar store, you should strongly consider developing a digital presence (if you haven’t already).
However, when posting your products for sale online, it’s important that you create the best possible product listing. The information, pictures, and video you include on this page are the only determinants available to your customers when they decide whether to buy the item or not. In this article, we covered various aspects of writing the perfect product listing, so that you know what you need to focus on and what can be ignored to maximize your conversion rates.