With an increasing percentage of pre-purchase product research being done on websites, providing site visitors with product information of the quality and relevance they need to make a buying decision becomes a significant factor in removing “online buying anxiety” and encouraging them to take that final step and make out an order.
According to WebCollage’s 2007 Survey Of Online Consumer Product Research Habits, fully 91% of online shoppers rated the availability of online product information as “important” or “very important” for their decision to buy. Product information alone, though, wasn’t the key – the quality of that information is what swung the balance. Shoppers who are unable to find the information they are looking for on retailer’s website will quickly move on to visit a competitor’s site.
In marketing some things never change. The basics of presenting product information on your website are exactly the same as they are for creating an effective brochure or newspaper ad:
- up to date information
- information presented in an easy to digest format – short bite-sized paragraphs or even bullet lists that provide the information quickly and obviously
- non-technical language
- all the information needed to specify order requirements, e.g. model numbers and colour options
- quality images
Online shoppers have become used to also seeing other information about products on retail websites.
Feedback, ranking and recommendation tools allow previous purchasers to rate your product. Good product ratings from satisfied customers encourage confidence in the prospect. Attractive and easy to grasp methods for displaying ratings include formats such as number of stars awarded, or a rating on various features of the product, durability, ease of use and so on. If you want to know what things customers of the product really care about, check out customer reviews on other sites before writing your product description and deciding the list of rating factors. Positive product reviews by independent bodies and customer testimonials also encourage faith in a product.
With automated inventory allowing stock to be tracked in real time, it’s possible to answer a major concern of the prospect – can I get this right away or will it need to be ordered in. Linked with this, provide information about delivery times and costs.
Product images can be used to great effect on your website by providing multiple views and zoom tools so visitors can get a closer look of a two dimensional image. Showing products in context can dramatically improve conversion. Practical aspects, such as illustrating the relative size of an item or what it can hold, can be complemented by picturing it in contexts that arouse the imagination, such as showing how a piece of clothing looks on a person or how a piece of furniture enhances a room.
Product videos add a whole new dimension of customer involvement. They can be used as a virtual showroom to show features; explain benefits; demonstrate how the product is used, maintained or repaired; showcase accessories; and mention what other product this one is compatible with.
Commonly asked questions can be put into an FAQ section for that product. Make it easy for potential customers to contact you with questions.
Finally, if you think prospects are likely to have any questions that remain unanswered by your product information, then give them an opportunity to get an answer right away rather than let them escape. Real time live chat support enables customers to contact you immediately to sort out their questions and concerns.
Purchasing off a website isn’t the same as purchasing in a bricks and mortar establishment. There’s no contact with a salesperson so you can assess the honesty of the person you are dealing with, no physical handling of the product. The best chance of overcoming ecommerce anxiety is to provide visitors with all the product information they are likely to want to know to make an informed decision.