Quality product data can make or break your ecommerce company. As our partner, Vesta shares below, there are a number of ways to improve your product catalog without spending too much time.
When thinking of ways to optimize your online sales, top of mind are usually activities like advertising, promotions and a friction-free checkout. While these are all important, we would argue that even more gains come from improving your product data catalog.
Your product data catalog contains attributes like product title, description, GTIN, category, price, etc. These elements come together to showcase the product online, which the customer will use when deciding to purchase. They also determine how often and for what keywords your product will show up for. Fill your product page with strong content and both your traffic and conversions will skyrocket. Without strong content, most of your marketing efforts will underperform.
So you might be thinking, particularly if you are a merchant with a large product range, that you have way too many products to spend time on each one - it’s unachievable. Just sourcing the data from your vendors and getting that onto your site may have already required a lot of work.
Through this article we will take you through some of the key reasons why perfecting product data on your site is worth focusing energy on and some tips on how to do that without losing so many hours on manual work to do it.
Let’s dive in.
Increasing sales conversion
On your product pages, the UX, branding, and design create the environment and the atmosphere. The product data that fills the page is the real substance that will give the shopper the information they need to make a purchase decision. According to Forrester, 85% of customers rate product information as the top feature they want from a website.
Product titles and descriptions should be complete and compelling. Be sure to include all the details and attributes that a shopper will want to see. If some product pages are missing information or are filled with jargon or vendor acronyms that are hard to understand, shoppers will likely abandon their shopping experience and bounce off of your site.
Improving Search and SEO
SEO is an affordable strategy for sustainably generating leads and you should always keep it in mind when working on the content for your product pages. The content on your product page is read by both shoppers and search engines, so optimizing your titles and descriptions can improve your search engine rankings and help increase traffic to your site.
To optimize for SEO you need to research keywords for your categories, brands or product types and make sure these are included in your content. If a shopper is unable to recall a product’s brand name, for example, they may search for it using other related descriptors or keywords. If these related words are not included in a product title or description, search engines won’t show the product to shoppers, reducing sales opportunities.
If you are using vendor provided content on your product pages, uniqueness also becomes a factor. Search engines rate unique content highly and can penalize a website for posting duplicate content. If you are one of many merchants selling that same product - directly using the vendor provided description may not be the best idea. Taking action to make your content for that product unique will pay off in contributing to higher rankings vs your competitors when searched.
Product returns are costly - taking time and money to receive, check, restock or liquidate. Not to mention they often leave negative feelings with the customer who is less likely to purchase from the brand again. The product return stats are astounding, with 30% of products bought online returned. 22% of those returns are directly due to inaccurate expectations caused by not enough or unclear product information.
By using quality content that gives the shopper an accurate understanding of a product you can have a direct impact on reducing product returns and increasing customer happiness.
Some simple ways to improve your product content
Create an online product experience as close to an in-person one as possible
Due to the fact that customers are unable to touch the product, turn it over, see its relative size or ask questions as they can in a store, the content featured on the product page needs to re-create this experience.
Images are one of the best ways to provide as close to a first-hand experience as an online shopper can get. It is important to have pictures that showcase the product at different angles, with a high enough quality that allows shoppers to zoom in and feel as if they are right there with the product. Providing an image that shows relative size, by including a person or other recognizable object in the image, is also highly important in visually portraying product information and accurately managing shoppers’ expectations.
Automate the cleaning and optimizing of your product data
As we’ve covered, it’s great to give products that personal touch, but when you are working with thousands of products, you’ll need the right toolkit to make that possible. You can alleviate a lot of the heavy lifting around cleaning and tailoring product data by automating these processes. Companies such as Vesta, make it easy to make changes at scale by using intelligent transformation and validation engines to customize and optimize your content at scale.
Automation services like Vesta can merge data from a range of different sources, such as your ERP and vendor data, into a normalized, consistent format, saving hours of work in spreadsheets. Measurement units, colour descriptors and specification names can all be transformed into a consistent format across your product range, making it much easier for shoppers to understand the offering and to compare similar products across your site.
Automation is also an easy way to replace acronyms and jargon words at scale. Both vendor language and the formats within your ERP are often not consumer friendly. Automated transformation logic can simply replace any words identified as an issue into an alternative word or sentence that will deliver a better customer experience as well giving an opportunity to include more search friendly terms.
Look to analytics
A short cut to identify quick wins and improvements in your product data feed is to review your often returned products and those with low reviews. Take a careful look at the product content for those products and the reasons given for return. Are they being returned because of poor wording, sizing or misleading conversion charts? Perhaps the scale or size of the product is not clear? Leveraging this information is a great opportunity to hone in on problem areas on your site.
Once you have pinpointed some product attributes that confuse or mislead shoppers, you can look to make bulk changes to all of the products in your range that are presented in a similar way. Test and track any change in sales conversions, returns and reviews for a product you have changed and these results can guide you towards optimization.
Through optimizing your product data catalog to be more complete, compelling and relevant, any merchant can keep shoppers more engaged. Using the guidelines and tips covered above, you can bring more shoppers to your site, as well as greatly improve the shopping experience leading to better conversion. With innovative tools now available, such as Vesta, customizing unique content is no longer too time consuming to tackle, with optimization across even the largest ranges possible. Building a strong core foundation of product data content will deliver sustained improvements to many of your other ecommerce activities and help you to build a brand that your customers love.
Written by: Maria West
Maria is a senior marketer at Vesta, working with the team to help eCommerce merchants overcome the limiting and frustrating challenges they face with product data. In her spare time she exploring beautiful places around her home country of New Zealand.