Giving consumers the confidence to commit

According to the latest research, up to 90% of all items in online shopping carts were abandoned at the virtual tills last year – with mobile abandonment rates higher still – as uncertain consumers either failed to commit to their purchases, or simply decided to shop elsewhere. In a traditional store, the staffing costs associated with returning basket-loads of discarded items to their respective shelves would represent a major inconvenience – but in the online sphere, these abandoned trolleys – brimming with lost potential sales – are proving equally costly for retailers.

So, what is it that prompts millions of shoppers each year to reject a planned purchase at the final hurdle? A recent Episerver report points out that poor product descriptions are a decisive factor for many consumers. And this is a double-edged sword: poor product descriptions are also a common cause of high product return rates.

When shopping online, it’s not possible to touch or try out the merchandise, let alone ask a sales assistant for advice. But retailers can still bridge this gap with carefully crafted product descriptions that give consumers the confidence to commit to a purchase. So, what do carefully crafted product descriptions look like?

Dedication to detail

Our research on the fashion vertical found that 90% of consumers were more likely to buy an item if provided with a more detailed product description, rather than a more cursory listing. When it comes to shopping online, the minutiae really matters – and not just in fashion but across beauty, homeware, luxury, electronics and other verticals.

Attention to detail when creating product descriptions means more than just ensuring your listings are clear, readable and grammatically correct. They also need to anticipate, and accurately answer, any pre-purchase questions your browsers may have. Providing exact dimensions and materials used (or in the case of cosmetics – ingredients and allergens) are only the starting point. Notable design elements, manufacturing features (e.g. hand-made, finely woven, made in America) and functionalities are key details to consider.

Of course, the information required will vary by sector and product, so it may be necessary to describe the scent of a candle, whereas details on the fit (e.g. loose fit versus figure hugging) and feel (e.g. lightweight or ultra-soft) of an item may be more critical for clothing. Levi’s is one brand that consistently gets this right – recently achieving perfect scores in Quill’s analysis of US ecommerce content for its reassuringly descriptive fit and feel information.

Brimming with benefits

While details provide the ‘what’ of a product description, it is often the benefits that provide the ‘why’ – giving the would-be shopper strong incentives to make a purchase. For example, customers may be aware that Under Armour’s running tops are durable and stylish – but a product description which explains that the fabric is ‘soft and ultra-lightweight, delivering superior breathability & incredible comfort’, while its ‘anti-odor technology prevents the growth of odor-causing microbes’, could really seal the deal.

Homeware giant IKEA may have been a late arrival to the ecommerce top table, but the Swedish juggernaut has caught on quickly when it comes to selling the benefits of its products. Online shoppers assessing the quality of some of IKEA’s more affordable bedlinen  may well be reassured to discover that these are made from 100% cotton – a ‘natural and durable material that becomes softer with every wash’, and that they have been yarn dyed before weaving, which gives them ‘a softer feel.’

Irrespective of the sector, selling the benefits means offering insights into why a product may be better than the alternatives, providing the reassurance that consumers need to buy on the spot rather than going elsewhere.

Sustainability

The origins and ethics of products are becoming increasingly important to consumers – after all, recent Deloitte research reveals that at least 42 percent of millennials have been influenced by sustainability concerns when purchasing a product. The ethics of materials used is a useful starting point (for example, organic cotton, sustainable bamboo or recycled plastic), alongside the sustainability of the manufacturing process and any other related initiatives.

With an astonishing 88% of US and UK consumers declaring themselves keen to avoid single-use plastics, the beauty and cosmetics industry is at the coal-face of this trend. By highlighting their ‘zero waste pledge‘ cruelty-free testing and use of reclaimed ocean-plastic packaging, beauty brands such as Ren give consumers the green light for guilt-free retail therapy. Across other sectors, brands from Ugg to J.Crew now have dedicated sections on their websites for sustainable products, but this information must also be reiterated on individual product pages for impact at the point of purchase.

Be original

Maximizing your search visibility means making sure that your product descriptions are completely, 100% original. Even the most outstanding content is effectively worthless if it is widely replicated elsewhere online, resulting in content duplication penalties that will devastate your search rankings. You can consistently generate high-quality organic traffic from long-tail search queries with original product descriptions, complete with all the relevant details and benefits.

 How does your store measure up?

The product description may seem a humble piece of content compared to glossy advertising campaigns, but as McKinsey points out, it is one of the top three factors contributing to an optimal ecommerce experience – and a critical driver of revenue, reputation and ROI for online retailers, with the ability to:

  • Increase traffic for long-tail searches with high buying intent
  • Improve conversion rates, AOVs and product return rates
  • Create positive, on-brand customer experiences

Are your product descriptions up to scratch? To find out, request a complementary Quill Quality Score audit of your site.

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