The little [online] shop of horrors | Quill

The little [online] shop of horrors

With the advent of a digital-first economy, where ecommerce outstrips offline shopping across many verticals, we compare the online versus the in-store experience. Our analysis reveals common Performance Content mistakes that put a serious dent in online sales and search visibility.

The location


Imagine a store tucked away from the high street, with no window display or signage. It would be unlikely to generate much footfall.

In the online world, SEO serves the equivalent function by driving organic traffic through a retailer’s digital “doors”. As the first 5 organic search results account for 67%  of all search traffic, it’s absolutely critical for e-tailers to rank highly for valuable short and long-tail category terms.

That means optimising category pages for maximum visibility, with the correct metadata combined with relevant, unique, search-optimised on-page content.

Despite this, over 82% of online retailers don’t have fully optimised category description content for SEO* – missing a big window of opportunity to net organic traffic.

The fitting room


The reality of shopping for clothing online is that there’s no fitting room – and therefore no way for customers to touch the garments in question, or to try them on for size.

So it’s no surprise that 98% of consumers say they consider it ‘very’ or ‘quite’ important to read about how the item fits in an online product description before buying, while 94% confer the same importance to reading about how the garment ‘feels’.

Despite this clear imperative, over 64% of online apparel retailers don’t satisfactorily describe garment fit in product descriptions, while 73% don’t describe garment feel adequately*, leaving customers with little to go on and reducing the likelihood of conversion – an uncomfortable truth.

Failing to describe garment fit is also the biggest driver of online clothing returns, making it an aspect of the online shopping experience that fashion retailers can’t afford to neglect. Indeed, 48% of consumers say they ‘bracket’ (i.e. buy multiple sizes of the same item) when shopping online and 55% cite size as the top reason for returning an online purchase.

The sales assistant



The idea of a high-street store without any sales staff seems far-fetched, but that’s exactly the predicament that consumers face when shopping online – especially when e-tailers fail to provide content that aids purchase decision-making, like buying and how-to guides.


After customer reviews, retailers’ websites are the second most popular pre-purchase research source for consumers – with 63% stating that they visit retailer sites for information before buying – meaning it’s crucial that brands provide this sought-after content.

However, only 19% of online retailers currently offer a broad range of high-quality guides *, leaving consumers with little choice but to go to the brand’s competitors to get their pre-purchase questions answered.

The visual merchandising


Masses of effort goes into ensuring physical stores are visually appealing and show off key products effectively – from endcaps through to mannequins and vignette displays.

However, when it comes to online shopping, inspirational visual content is typically in shorter supply, with 62% of retailers failing to fully optimise content pages (e.g. blog, guide & editorial pages) with imagery and video*.

But with 72% of consumers saying they would rather watch a video about a product than read about it, the case for investing in visual content is clear.

Enhancing the user experience with engaging visual material certainly pays off, with 90% of customers reporting that product videos help them make purchasing decisions. Simply embedding videos in landing pages has the potential to increase conversion rates by as much as 80%. Visual content can clearly prove an unbeatable asset when it comes to nudging consumers from the consideration stage to that all-important decision-making stage.

How does your store measure up?


It’s clear that Performance Content assets – such as product and category descriptions, buying and how-to guides – although frequently overlooked, are an absolutely critical driver of revenue, reputation and ROI for online retailers, helping to:

– Increase conversion rates & AOVs
– Increase search rankings & traffic
– Reduce product return rates
– Maintain brand integrity & a positive customer experience

Is your ecommerce website’s Performance Content up to scratch? To find out, request a free Quill Quality Score audit of your site.

*Based on Quill Quality Score audits of retailer websites conducted to date.

More posts from the blog


How optimising for baby boomers will boost your bottom line

Find out more

Multi-language content production and transcreation in eCommerce

Find out more

Page one or perish – how strong content can improve your SEO game

Find out more

Get in touch with the team

Contact Back to top