In one of my previous posts titled Most Important Pages on an Ecommerce Site I uncovered for you the most important parts of any ecommerce website.
After that post I thought it would be a good idea to develop a series providing more detail on each page within that original post.
Below is a list (in no particular order) of what are the most important elements all good product pages possess.
All internet consumers want to know “how much does shipping cost” and “how soon can I get it”?
Naturally, many begin to first ask this question at the product page. Providing them with the answer to that question at the precise point during their buying cycle is critical toward moving them closer to conversion. Giving them easy access to the shipping rates and shipping options will improve the customer experience and set you up for success.
Even if a product is in stock, don’t assume the customer knows that. Don’t make them think. A customer that see a product listed as “in stock ready to ship” is more likely to put that item in their cart and proceed forward.
Add to cart button
No matter how good a product page may seem it’s certainly no good if the customer can’t figure out how to add the item to their cart. Making the add to cart button larger and more visible is an essential element toward increasing conversion.
Presence of payment methods accepted
Ok, the customer has decided that the product they are viewing is one they want. The next question many ask is “what payment options do I have for buying this”? Indicating the types of payments accepted will answer this question.
You can do this in a variety of unobtrusive ways. A good test is to try adding small icons of the payment methods you accept just under the add to cart button. Again, it’s at the moment that a customer is ready to add an item to their cart that they ask what methods of payment are accepted. Reinforcing it here is a good idea.
Payment Icons Example
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. On the internet the product’s picture is just about the only element that can show clearly what an item really looks like. Make sure your photos are clear, crisp, show detail and are large enough to provide plenty of visual appeal yet are optimized for fast internet download times.
Using tools such as lightbox effects for showing larger photos and even zoom type effects (often with jQuery / Ajax) can provide a very nice professional touch.
JQuery Zoom Example
Photo Lightbox Effect
Building trust and confidence with customers is at the forefront of any strong ecommerce site. Although customer assurance elements should be present sitewide, you should really make sure they are obvious on the product page.
Numerous questions are asked and decisions made by the customer on the product page. Committing to adding an item in their cart requires reinforcing trust and confidence.
If you offer warranties, guarantees etc… you should make sure these are in plain site on the product page. Letting the customer know that you have a 90 day guarantee (as an example) will help move them toward placing the item in their cart.
It’s pretty obvious to most that customers want to know the price of a product before they commit to moving forward, yet I’ve seen sites stating “add the item to your cart to see the price”. I personally see no reason for this and in fact can point out two reasons I feel this would hurt your conversion.
- You are adding another step to the customer’s buying process and the more steps you add the greater your chance of losing them.
- You are taking away the customers choice by forcing them to add an item to the cart in order to get information which should be in plain view from the start.
Both hinder the customer experience and will likely cause a decrease in conversion. If you are selling products on the internet do you and your customers a favor by including the full price of the product on the product page.
With the recent growth of social media use, it should be no surprise customers are indicating in surveys that the presence of peer reviews is playing a bigger role in their decision to buy products.
Whereas store issued product reviews can appear biased at times, consumers feel that peer ratings provide a real picture of the likability of a given product. These should be included on every product page and the ability for a customer to write a review should be in plain site.
Now go back and review your site for the inclusion of these elements. If you have them in place congratulations, if you don’t you should really think about adding them.
To your success!
Chris Goward says
Good points! To them I would add:
1. Test your cross-sell — depending on the credibility of your brand you may find better results with ‘You might also like’ or ‘Most popular in the category’ or ‘Others you viewed this ultimately purchased’.
2. Include a ‘Recently viewed’ box, but make sure it’s not a distraction.
3. Get your ‘Add to Cart’ button above the fold.
There are always more things to test on product pages!
Bert Van den Broeck says
Great article: a clear summary on what has to be on a product-page.
What’s your opinion on what has to happen after you click on the the “add-to-cart” button?
In case that you don’t have the shopping-cart and what’s in it consantly displayed in your web-page, should you go the shopping-cart page and thus leave the product-page?
Or would you prefer some kind of ajax-opening shopping-cart with buttons “continue shopping” and “proceed to checkout” ?
We are making a new design and I am struggling with what option would be best:
leaving the product-page and bringing the customer one step closer to conversion
offering in an overlay-window the shopping-cart view and checkout-button and the product-page behind it, thus leaving the customer to the product-page having a bigger chance on continue shopping (via cross-selling options for example) and thus selling more products.
Would love te hear your professional opinion on this?
Good question. In my experience, it is best to not take them to a “shopping cart page” (showing the items in their cart) and force them to either “checkout” or “continue shopping”. it may seem as though they are moving closer to the conversion point, but often times this concept has the opposite effect. I’ve tested this a number of times.
I’ve found through testing that it is best to simply tell them (clearly indicate) to them that the item was added to their cart and then provide them with the proper links to let them choose what they would like to do next. So basically, you keep them on the page they are on after adding the item to their cart but give them the options to do what they decide next.
This approach tends to lead to higher conversion rates and also higher average order values to a degree.
Bert Van den Broeck says
I’m reading your excellent paper “20 surefire ways to increase sales using Zen Cart”. Although we are not using Zen Cart, the document contains a lot of valuable information.
The answer to my question is in Surefire Way # 6: Clearly indicate an item has been added to the cart. So let me quote you:
“If you are looking to increase order size, it would be better to keep the user where they are after they add an item to their cart and let them choose the next step”.
“Forcing a visitor to view the shopping cart after an item has been added to their cart and then expect them to “continue shopping” is conflicting.”
Are you a favorite of using the “mouse-over” functionality?
Do you think that showing the shopping-cart-page in small with buttons “continue shopping” and “checkout”, in an overlay, when doing a mouse-over on the “View Cart” link, is usability wise a good option?
Again, congratulations with your blog, I should have discovered it earlier.
Glad you like the reading. Yes, those strategies apply to any shopping cart. I happen to write it for Zen Cart examples thus the title.
I do like the mouse-over functionality when used in the right locations (not while showing the shopping cart page itself though.) I have tested that as well and like it because it provides the customer with the information they need while still keeping them in the same “conversion position” they were in when they started.
When an item is added to the cart I prefer it to simply indicate so with no “you must click something to continue” (even if it is a pop-up). You want the visitor to not be forced into anything and you certainly don’t want them to think. If you just indicate the item has been added and then provide them with a clear checkout button they should be ok.
I am just about ready to launch my new membership site which is targeted at helping store owners increase their sales and get access to the tools, resources, etc… I use to build ecommerce businesses.
You might be interested in getting on that list here.
Jeff Bronson says
Thank you for this informative post Eric, I look forward to joining your coaching program in the near future. I have been thinking about the whole “add to cart” dilemma for a while and this post reminded me of it….so I wanted to share something below. I am thinking of implementing this functionality into my site when possible.
Per how to handle the “add to cart” functionality from a product page it makes sense to equate this to a grocery store experience. If you add a loaf of bread to your cart you do you really want to get whisked away to the cash register right away? More likely you’d want to stay in the bread isle and decide your next move.
Walmart.com does a great job of this, if you add something to your cart an overlay appears and gives you the option to edit your cart or checkout. An estimated shipping price is also displayed which I “think” maybe made possible through IP Geo location look ups. This could also be a great area for some type of “You are X amount away from free shipping” offer verbiage to prompt continued shopping and increased order value.
A mouse over the top right cart button causes this interface to appear from anywhere in the site.
Jeff, good analogy here and good insights. Looking forward to you becoming a member of my coaching program as well! I love helping store owners build their business.