While we have long pitted e-commerce and physical stores against each other, the current belief is that buyers are adopting hybrid shopping behaviour: they’re looking for the best of both worlds.
If buyer behaviour varies depending on the sales channel used, the actual act of making a purchase is determined by similar criteria – whether it’s in-store or online. Among these criteria is information you find about the product. Writing suitable content for a product description for an e-commerce site can have a significant impact on your conversion rate, and we’re going to find out why.
E-commerce vs. physical stores
Consumers don’t expect the same experience when buying in-store and buying online. We also know that the three main reasons people prefer to buy in-store are: being able to hold, touch, and smell the product before buying it; the option of leaving the store with the item in-hand; and avoiding having to return an item if it isn’t suitable. Physical points of sale know their own strengths well, and many of them have chosen to taken products out of their boxes and windows. They place their merchandise in dedicated spaces so customers can physically handle products. A striking example is the German outdoor specialist Globetrotter, which opened a shop to test its products in real life conditions: testing diving equipment in a 4.30 metre pool, a simulation of rainy weather to test camping equipment, walking on different types of surfaces (sand, asphalt, etc.) and even a dark hallway where people can test flashlights!
Plus près de chez nous, A bit closer to home, the new Kanuk boutique in Montréal has a winter space where customers can try winter coats in a refrigerated room with temperatures between -10 and -25 degrees Celsius! Mais,
But when it comes to selling online, buyer motivation is an entirely different story. The three main reasons for that are price, convenience and choice.
And since someone visiting an e-commerce site cannot rely on his senses to judge the quality and relevance of the product in relation to what he is looking for, he must rely on the screen to help him make his choice: pictures, maybe a video, the product description, price and customer reviews.
How does one go about writing a great product description? We did the test with winter boots and jackets for kids. The result: on more than half of the e-commerce sites we visited, the content of the product description can be summarized like so: “100% polyester” and sometimes even just “snow boots for boys”.
Quality product descriptions boost conversions
While some brands don’t take the time to write superior product descriptions for their merchandise, those descriptions play an important role in driving sales. This is the content that will compensate for all the details that your user can’t experience because he is shopping online: your writing will serve as the customers’ tactile sensations and even the store salespeople. This means you have to answer all of your customers’ questions before they can even ask them. If your product description simply says “pink jacket for girls”, there is a good chance that the conversion rate won’t live up to your expectations.
Why is it so important to create valuable product descriptions for your e-commerce sites?
Here is an example of a very efficient product description created by the dernière chasse website. We have outlined why it is so effective and why we feel they are spot-on with this particular description.
Storytelling and product descriptions
A product description is more than just a list of the item’s characteristics, it should tell a story. Of course, it could simply state one general thing about the product; like that the boots have a Velcro strap. Here, the description explains that the child will be able to put on and remove the boots very easily thanks to the Velcro strap (it goes without saying that this is ideal for daycare or school). It also explains further down that the boots are non-slip (perfect for walking around on the skating rink), and that children can use them to play in the snow or go tobogganing without getting their feet wet. While it’s true that the product description gives users a clear explanation about important product details (comfort, materials, etc.), it also gives information about the product that allows the user to imagine himself using the product in his everyday life.
Kaliop’s pro tip: use story-telling tactics for your product descriptions. Try to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Think of how they got to your website in their search and why they are looking for your product.
Stop questions in their tracks
Your visitor is here because he needs something. The product description is there to eliminate any second guesses he may have about buying your product. You also want to answer any of his potential questions: Is this jacket warm enough for March weather? Are the bands around the wrists made with elastic to prevent any snow from getting inside the sleeves, etc.? Describe your product as if the user was in the room with you but couldn’t see the product. How big is it? What weather is it best for? What does it have that other jackets don’t? What is it made of? Does it come in many sizes? Etc.
Think of the questions that salespeople are asked in-store and keep them in mind when you’re developing your content. Customers are asking themselves the same questions when they’re shopping online!
SEO: long tail makes up 80% of your traffic
Last but not least in your description comes SEO. The richer your product description, the better your organic SEO will be. If you have a product description of approximately 300 words, your description is likely to be well referenced. And hold on to your hats! 80% of your traffic will be made up of what is called long tail (all the words that characterize your product). That means that the majority of your traffic will come from search requests like “children’s Velcro boots” “boots with washable insoles”, “waterproof kids’ boots”, etc. By optimizing your content, you can show your customer just how appropriate your product is for his need. And then your conversion rate is sure to grow!
Text: Alexandra Blaison, Marketing Strategist, Kaliop Canada
Illustrations: Perrine Vin, UX Designer, Kaliop Canada
Photos: Globetrotter Köln – Boutique Kanuk 485, rue Rachel Est, Montréal
Product description and order confirmation exmaple: with the kind permission of the team at La dernière chasse. Thank you and congratulations!