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BusinessColumnistsJamie Herzlich

Product info more important than price to online shoppers

Online shopping is growing, and some experts say

Online shopping is growing, and some experts say product information and quality displays are key over pricing. Photo Credit: AP

If you think price is the key factor driving purchase decisions on your e-commerce site, think again.

Ninety-four percent of would-be buyers will abandon an e-commerce site if product content — information describing what you’re selling — is deficient and they are unable to find what they need, according to a recent study by Salsify.

In fact, price ranked third in consumers’ decisions to purchase, after detailed product descriptions (No. 1) and ratings and reviews (No. 2), according to the study.

“The consumer today is really in control of the shopping experience,” says Josh Mendelsohn, director of product marketing at Salsify, a Boston-based product content management firm.

When visiting a site, they want to instantly be able to answer any questions they may have.

Price plays more of a role when they are deciding between e-commerce sites, but when it comes down to making an actual purchase decision on a site, “it’s all about product content and ratings and reviews,” says Mendelsohn.

Specifically, 88 percent of consumers demand accurate, rich, and complete product content in order to hit “buy,” according to the study.

Sixty-six percent of respondents require at least three product images, and 82 percent want to see a minimum of three product reviews when considering a purchase.

When it comes to photos, consider having them professionally taken, advises Nicole Larrauri, president of EGC Group, a Melville-based marketing and digital services firm.

They must be high quality, high resolution images that show what you’re selling from different angles, she says. The consumer should be able to easily zoom in on the images, she adds.

Depending on the item, consider including photos or video of someone wearing the product, or the product in different settings, notes Larrauri.

That’s what Angela Carillo, owner of Bethpage-based Alegna Soap, a maker of handmade soaps, is in the process of doing.

She already has product photos on her e-commerce site, as well as a video, but she’s planning to add more photos that include her products in different settings.

She recently was in San Diego and took pictures of her soap on the beach, as well as in different glassware, in someone’s back pocket, etc.

“I tried to think outside of the box,” says Carillo, who also has a reviews tab on her website with client testimonials.

Testimonials aren’t bad, but consumers prefer “reviews that anyone can give,” notes Mendelsohn. “They are less curated.”

To generate these, brands often send an email following a purchase encouraging the customer to review in a public forum, he says.

Many small businesses are also giving customers the opportunity to leave the review right on their web page, says Larrauri.

Of course, the risk is this could open you up to a negative review, but “the positive outweighs the negative,” she says.

Beyond reviews, good product descriptions are key, says John McHugh, president of Brainstorm Studio, a Melville-based digital marketing agency.

The descriptions need to be accurate and not overly “salesy,” presenting key benefits and features upfront, he says.

They don’t have to be lengthy, but rather show the most important elements, perhaps in bullet form, allowing consumers to click on a tab if they want to read more, such as on Zappos.com, says McHugh. He suggests e-tailers have a “featured product” section on their homepage.

“The key to a strong product description is to write a description that both your customers and Google will love,” says McHugh.

Fast Fact:

Looking to attract the Millennial buyer? Millennials are 40 percent more likely than other age groups to say that product content is “extremely important” to their decision to buy.

Source: Salsify

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