“When the product is right, you don’t have to be a great salesperson. The product will find its way to the consumer or buyer.” I have heard this several times over the years. It could be true if the product has a monopoly in the given market or addresses a niche need. However, for the rest, a story needs to be told — to the right audience, at the right time and in the right way.
In the e-commerce world, this is something typically done by the humble product description page (PDP). Despite its importance in selling a product, it is often overlooked and deprioritized — in terms of both attention and effort — especially in favor of homepages and campaign landing pages. This effectively means the product description page is often left to do a lot of sales work without the resources it should have.
Product pages and customer journeys
Typically, a customer doesn’t start their purchase journey on a PDP — at least they don’t in the classic e-commerce journey. However, it nevertheless plays an important role in making the sale. Indeed, a lot of time, effort and creativity will have been invested in getting a visitor not only to the site but also to the point where they are about to purchase; the product page makes sure none of that effort goes to waste by essentially ‘closing’ the sale. With the industry moving towards ‘convergence commerce’ — catering to all types of customer journeys — there is now a distinct shift from concepts like ‘channel thinking’ and ‘pre-cart journey’ to a scenario where a consumer should be able to start their journey and complete it anywhere, with real time information available across all touchpoints. This makes product pages even more important in a buyer journey.
The data backs this up. Salsify’s ‘Cracking the Consumer Code’ report states that 87 percent of consumers say the content on product pages plays a significant role in whether they purchase. 98 percent of consumers have opted not to purchase a product because the product page was either insufficient or incorrect. The conversion rate for visitors who land directly on a product page averages about 7 percent, vs. the 2.5 percent from a home page. Thus a well-designed product page leads to better user experience and ensures customers are able to quickly find the information they need. This streamlines the sales funnel and makes it more efficient.
Product description pages must be built to convert
When PDPs are built to convert, the challenge is that there are no rules that apply to all brands and retailers. This means it’s imperative to understand the objectives of a given PDP and to keep them in mind in every step of the process, from design to measurement and optimization.
A high converting PDP has a few key components and if any of them is not taken care of it can cost the business in sales. Let’s take a closer look at what these components are:
The digital version of going to a store and looking at a product. It should include informative and illustrative product content — including images and videos while aligning with the brand image and message
|Conversion||These are elements that can help nudge a customer to make a purchase. Examples include effective CTAs, urgency messages like low inventory and limited time offers|
|Consideration||These are components that facilitate the customer’s process of evaluation and selection. They should validate and reinforce consumer choices. They include things like up-sells, trust certificates, reviews and ratings and online customer support|
|Policies and guides||These are managerial components that help the customer understand how post-purchase issues — like shipping and returns — will be handled|
Here are specific guidelines for each component listed above. These are winning tactics when building a high-converting PDP:
- The page layout should communicate the brand persona
- Product descriptions should be written with a customer needs in mind
- Visual content should be contextual and of high quality; meeting the industry standards for the given category
- Have simple and clear CTAs in prominent points
- Leverage urgency messages to lead user click CTAs faster
- Provide fast checkout
- Leverage relevant social proof to increase trust
- Provide contextual product comparisons
- Draw attention to value using discounts and offers
- Provide alternatives — cross-sell
- Provide supplements
Policies and guidelines
- Clear and upfront information on shipping, taxation, returns and refunds
- Provide hassle-free support for customer queries
In effect, the broad advice would be to:
- Pay attention to minute details of the page
- Not waste users’ time
- Avoid clutter
- Personalize each element in the right way: not too much, not too little
Finish by wrapping everything with a bow of brand consistency and lay out a mechanism to measure what matters and consistently optimize it.
Designing a product page is only half of the job done. Performance needs to be measured regularly with an established KPI framework and the findings used to optimize further. While the KPIs need to be picked based on goals, some important ones to track are: add to cart rate, conversion rate, average order value, bounce rate, time spent on page, click through rate for key elements and PDP exit rate.
Finally, be unique. Familiarity can be useful sometimes, but often it risks undermining what makes your product and brand distinctive. After all, you wouldn’t get a salesperson from another store to drive sales! Instead, you need to be bold enough to tell your product’s story in a way that is true to your brand. But remember: keep it simple, informative and convincing!
Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.