E-Commerce sites around the world strive to outdo each other with the best possible user experience. Brand and product content is at the heart of this experience everywhere.

Brands selling on third-party sites (marketplaces, e-retailers) are restricted in the type and amount of content that they can use on product pages. This means they need to leverage every product page element available to them to stand out in search results, offer the best possible experience and convert sales. 

It’s clear e-commerce plays a big role in people’s lives and will continue to for the foreseeable future. According to eMarketer, US e-commerce will grow 18% in 2020 as consumers are expected to spend $709 billion, and it will represent an all-time high of 14% of total retail sales. Global e-commerce is expected to grow to $6.07 trillion by 2024

E-commerce page optimization is becoming increasingly important as more people turn to online shopping. Changing shopping habits have made the standard product page evolve to include features like video and 360° images, and brands are taking advantage of that. With e-retailers expanding to reach more shoppers, brands and manufacturers can use e-commerce content monitoring software to build a compelling, consistent brand presence and keep an eye on customer reviews across sites.

In this article, we’ll see how:

  • Shoppers are choosing online avenues over physical retail
  • Brands react to changing shopping habits with product content optimization
  • The need to monitor product pages is on the rise

Shoppers are choosing online avenues over physical retail

Compared to leaving the house, shuffling through stores, and standing in line at a cash register, online shopping is effortless. Even before COVID-19, e-commerce was becoming a larger segment of retail over the past decade. Now, people are buying even more types of items online than they had in the past.

A recent survey from ChannelAdvisor showed that since the outbreak, 31% of consumers have purchased items they never bought online before, 20% have more confidence to do online shopping, and 34% are flexible to the delivery time for nonessential items.  

The ship has sailed and we have seen brands use creative trends to boost online beauty product sales. Check out this ASOS page for example, it uses many techniques to alleviate shopper concerns:  image zoom-in for details, video, smart size fit recommendation and an obvious and detailed product description.  

Shopping has gone digital

Online shopping has been steadily increasing over recent years and COVID-19 has contributed to its current acceleration. Social distancing requirements have led many people to shop for things online that they would have normally bought in a store. ChannelAdvisor found that 54% of Americans are doing more online shopping as a result of the outbreak.

And after COVID-19 is over, some of these new shopping habits will continue to stick around. In a recent McKinsey survey, U.S. shoppers said they were 15% to 30% more likely to buy online in many categories including fitness, child products, jewelry, and cosmetics after COVID-19.

E-retailers have expanded over recent years and have made it easier than ever for customers to find what they are looking for, and that means more competition for brands. They have also made progress in areas like fast and free returns, customer reviews, and detailed images which take away the fear of buying the wrong thing. Now, more than ever, it’s important to use the right product descriptions and listing content. 

Key takeaway: COVID-19 contributed to an already growing ecommerce economy. Shoppers will continue to rely on the internet to get essential and discretionary products in the future. 

Shoppers look to content and reviews to judge trustworthiness

In e-commerce, the product page needs to answer shoppers’ questions and do the work of a good salesperson. If a product page doesn’t adequately portray the product, customers will move on to another listing on the website.

People can’t consult a brand’s customer service department to ask questions when they are shopping on sites like Amazon or Walmart.com, so the product page must be clear and complete. This includes having multiple images of adequate size and from different angles. In fact, about 83% of smartphone users say images are very important to making a purchase decision, and 82% say the same about product description/technical specs.

Product reviews are also vital in conveying trust to new shoppers. Reviews are a form of social proof, which is an effective element of any sales landing page. People do read them, and they’ll notice the honest reviews that point out problems such as an item not matching the product photos or having technical flaws. 

According to BrightLocal, 91% of shoppers are more likely to purchase from a business or product page that has positive reviews, and 76% trust online reviews as much as recommendations from a friend. Brands can’t usually display other types of social proof directly on an e-retailer product page, like celebrity endorsements and social media shares. That makes having customer reviews and responding to them even more important. 

People also judge items before they get to the actual product page. That means the product’s title and main image need to have all the right elements they want to see. Looking at Amazon product titles, longer titles that include the brand, product, category, and features often perform better than titles with fewer elements. When those elements are present, shoppers can scan the list of products and see which ones provide what they are looking for. 

Key takeaway: Online shoppers rely on product descriptions, images, compatibility, and reviews to judge whether they should make a purchase. Brands that don’t keep up with best practices could see sales slipping as customers expect a rich variety of content. 

Brands react to changing shopping habits with product content optimization

With more people shopping online, e-commerce product pages have evolved to give customers the information they are looking for in order to make a buying decision. Industry leaders take advantage of the opportunity by optimizing different aspects of their product pages to capture buyers. 

Product page elements are evolving

People may arrive at a product page through text, voice, or image search on a mobile device, laptop, or tablet, so images and videos should be optimized for any type of device. According to ViSense, 62% of Gen Z and Millennial consumers want image search technology over any other feature to discover the products they want to buy, and many e-retailers are on board. And by 2022, voice-based shopping is expected to account for 18% of retail spending

Images need to load fast on mobile, but there’s a balance. You don’t want the image to be too small, because the ability to zoom is important, and it can give customers more confidence in the product. In its UX research, the Baymard Institute found 56% of shoppers immediately clicked on images and tried to view them closer, but 25% of product listings didn’t provide enough resolution for a clear zoomed image. Shoppers in the study were likely to leave the listing or think less of the e-retailer or website after finding poor zoomed image quality. 

In looking over the first twelve trending products in Amazon’s electronics department, all product pages used at least six photos. About half of the listings also displayed at least one video, and a few displayed multiple videos. Correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation, but it would be unlikely for a product to do that well with only two or three images. 

Here are some other recent content-related developments in e-commerce shopping:

  • Mobile-ready hero image (MRHI): When shopping on mobile, it can be hard to see volume, type, and quantity on a product label. Product images can be optimized for mobile with enlarged text to show this information.
  • Voice search: With home assistants becoming more popular, shoppers can search for products by using their voice.
  • Image search: Some shopping apps like AliExpress and Amazon allow users to search for products with an image by pointing their camera at an object. Google has also added visual search on the app that supports both search and shopping functions. 

In a physical store, a shopper might have a handful of choices for the same type of product. But online, there are hundreds. The text and images on the page is what will connect with customers and show them how a particular product fits what they are looking for. 

Key takeaway: As technology improves, people will seek to interact with product pages in different ways. Brands should watch for evolving content types to connect with customers when and how they want. 

Industry leaders use content to convert

There’s a difference between e-commerce merchandising (what a site does to improve conversion) and e-retail merchandising techniques (what brands do to drive traffic and sales for their products). Brands and manufacturers have less control over a product page on an e-retailer website, but that doesn’t mean they should just upload photos, paste a description, and move on. E-retail merchandising is all about making the most of the elements you’re allowed to edit. 

Successful brands are proactive about the content they put up. There’s no fluff—even a simple bulleted list is a chance to incorporate sales copywriting and tie features to benefits. According to a GrowthRock case study, Amerisleep increased checkouts by 13.9% just by focusing on benefits in the product description. 

Industry leaders also encourage their customers to contribute reviews, photos, and customer-answered FAQs. Shoppers that look at user-generated content (UGC) are more likely to convert—93% say UGC is very helpful when making a buying decision. If a listing doesn’t utilize good UGC, it’s leaving sales on the table. Responding to reviews is also important, and brands should make sure that each response is unique for the customer. 

Looking at the visual side, 360° photography can be effective in many industries. Some see up to a 40% conversion rate increase with a 360° photo on the page. The basic idea is to go beyond the minimum requirements from the e-retailer. In one example, Grainger found that conversion rates increased by 47% when 360° photography was included on the page. 

Research and test what works best for the company’s product. For example, do more people buy via mobile? Are users looking for detailed compatibility information? The answers to these questions will change how an optimized e-commerce product page should look. 

Key takeaway: Top-performing brands and manufacturers use product pages to their fullest potential with benefit-focused copy, responses to reviews, and information customers want to see.

The need to monitor product pages is on the rise

Brands don’t get to sit back and relax after submitting basic product info. E-commerce platforms can make errors when the page goes live or after the listing is active. Brands should also closely monitor reviews to respond quickly when problems arise.

Brands have less control over listings on e-retailer sites vs branded ecommerce domains

E-retailers don’t let brands change page layout, design, headings, or add HTML to listings. Some sites allow bold text, but that’s about it. Brands also can’t promote their items by listing discounts in the description, linking to a website, or adding reviews where they aren’t allowed. Since there are so many restrictions, brands should carefully manage the parts of an e-commerce product page that are under their control.

Some platforms like Amazon allow enhanced content for registered brands. First-party sellers can apply for and use A+ Detail Pages to create a rich visual landing page on Amazon, but it comes at an additional cost. 

Whether or not brands have access to enhanced listings, e-retail merchandising is a hard task. There are many points of contact to deal with when you consider multiple e-commerce sites. Most platforms don’t let you edit a page directly, either. As the number of items increases, so does time required to monitor product pages manually. No one has time to click through hundreds of URLs to make sure changes have been published. 

Key takeaway: With less freedom over merchandising on e-retailers, brands should leverage the factors they can control.

Monitor content to optimize at every opportunity

Even smaller brands may have hundreds of e-commerce product pages which are impossible to manually check on a regular basis. Even if you know you are making progress, it’s hard to put a number on how close you’re getting to your content goals.

BlueBoard’s review and content monitoring tools help brands know if their product pages are performing up to par. Comparing listings across platforms, manufacturers can create a consistent brand image and make sure each page has the newest media assets. BlueBoard also tracks product reviews and ratings on all channels, so brands’ online reputation is always protected. 

Monitoring can be especially helpful for bulk uploads. When working with an e-retailer that controls uploading, it can be time consuming to submit changes and monitor the pages to see if they went through or not. A monitoring system allows brands to see which product pages have been changed. They can go double-check that the change was implemented correctly with the right keywords and length.

You don’t want to spend a lot of time and money optimizing a product listing and creating the perfect sales copy only to have the e-retailer not upload everything correctly. If you don’t catch errors, the listing won’t perform to its full potential.

The key to success managing e-commerce product pages on multiple marketplaces is to have a robust monitoring system that can notify you of changes and errors and that can provide guidelines for further optimization.

Key takeaway: By monitoring content and reviews, brands can continuously optimize product pages and know right away when something needs to be changed. This ensures listings are always updated with the best elements to drive conversions.

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