Winning the online shopper: The power of compelling product pages


Winning the online shopper:  
 The power of compelling product pages

This article is based on David Copeland’s brilliant talk, ‘Maximizing revenue through digital commerce insights’, given at the Product Marketing Festival. 

More into watching than reading? Enjoy the complete recording here

There’s no doubt that the way people shop has changed. Personally, I’m shopping online more than ever before, as evidenced by the stack of packages on my doorstep.

This gives us as product marketers a tremendous opportunity to take advantage of a goldmine of digital insights – and that’s what we’re going to explore today.

We’ll dive into the challenges of competing in a digital-first environment, how you can create great product pages and content, and how to leverage technology to win at scale in the digital retail environment.

Let’s get to it!

Today’s digital-first reality

When it comes to high-engagement purchases, empowered customers are directing their own buying experiences. These self-directed buying experiences start with the products, not with the brand. In fact, 78% of online product searches don’t include a brand name, which is staggering and very different from how people used to shop in-store.

Product information has arguably become the digital front door of your company. It doesn’t matter where customers enter – whether through your website, your content via social or search, a marketplace, an app, or a distributor – it’s important to look after your digital shelf and your product content. 

If you want to compete, it’s time to start answering a new set of questions you’ve probably never had to consider before, like: 

  • What product content moves the needle in a buying decision
  • How can I ensure the right product information is available where customers are buying? 
  • How can I adapt to changing buyer preferences before my competitor does?
  • How can we quickly iterate changes and get them out to all engagement points?

If you can work with speed and agility on the digital shelf, you have a chance to win. 

The challenges of competing in a digital-first environment

The reality is that competing online is hard – for several reasons.

Firstly, the way companies have traditionally presented product information is very static. Many of the technologies and processes used today aren’t geared for agility, which limits how you can present your story.

Secondly, a lot of brands today are flying blind – they have no insight into what changes could improve their product content or what content is invisible on the digital shelf. They’re making decisions without data, which is scary. 

Finally, everything is so slow. Traditional methods of managing product information are extremely time-intensive, and most brands just can’t afford that right now. 

To overcome these challenges, product content is vital – unfortunately, there’s also a lot that can go wrong here. For starters, key product content can go missing. Just look at the product page below – the image of the flat-screen TV they’re selling isn’t even visible!

Winning the online shopper:  
 The power of compelling product pages
Courtesy of inRiver

And then there’s the problem of retailers mixing up brand and product info. When I was shopping for an electric toothbrush recently, I came across a product page for a Phillips toothbrush that showed an image of Oral B replacement heads. These kinds of blunders happen all the time when companies don’t dedicate the right resources and technology to maintaining their product pages.

Product content must-haves

So, what should product marketers pay attention to in the product life cycle for content to convert well and be found in search? Let me share a handful of must-haves:

  • A descriptive title that helps buyers find your product. It’s often beneficial to include search terms and keywords. 
  • High-quality product images are more important than ever. Consumers don’t just want to see the front and back of the box – they want to see the product from all angles and in a range of use cases.  
  • A clear product description is key – the more descriptive the better. Consumers want weights, colors, measurements, and materials. If they don’t get a sense of the product from the description, they’ll just move on to one that paints a better picture. 
  • Rich content like videos and animations that bring products to life.
  • Customer testimonials and reviews – these are like that salesperson in a physical store aisles who can provide information and anecdotes. You don’t get that in-person help online, so ratings and reviews become a must-have for the digital shelf.
  • Availability – none of the points above really matter if the product isn’t available and the consumer can’t buy it. It has to be in stock. 

What a great product page looks like

So, with all this in mind, what does a great product page look like? Where can we go for inspiration?

You need look no further than Amazon. Here’s one of their white-label product listings – we can learn a lot from it. 

Winning the online shopper:  
 The power of compelling product pages
Courtesy of inRiver

It has a descriptive title – we know how many loads of laundry this detergent can do, how much of it there is, and the key selling features. Looking across the page, there’s a nice image carousel with the front, back, and images highlighting features like being gentle on skin and whitening and brightening.

If we scroll down, we get into the enhanced rich content area that tells the product’s story, not just facts and figures. This is where it really starts grabbing interest. There’s also a great product description covering exactly what you need to know. And unsurprisingly, it has very good ratings and positive reviews.

Winning the online shopper:  
 The power of compelling product pages
Courtesy of inRiver

This is what a product should look like on the digital shelf. Amazon’s own-brand products provide great inspiration for what works. 

A quick recap

So, you need to pay attention to your products’ search ranking, ratings, visibility, and availability. Crucially, you also have to look after your product content since that’s what tells the compelling story that ultimately drives customers to purchase.

If you’re having problems in any of these areas, the good news is all of these issues can be fixed once they’ve been found. The difficult part is doing that at scale across the many products and distributors out there. You can’t go manually auditing your digital shelf one listing at a time.

How to maximize revenue from your online channels

So, how can you maximize revenue from your online channels? In short, you need to have a plan. Here are the key steps:

  1. Acknowledge the power of the product detail page as a valuable marketing asset that tells the brand and product story and provides a great customer experience. 
  2. Review the must-haves of product content and understand why you lose sales.
  3. Audit at scale.
  4. Take the learnings from that audit, prioritize them, and take action to increase searchability and conversion and ultimately increase revenue. 
  5. Iterate. This isn’t a linear process – you can’t just put product content online and expect it to keep converting well. There are constantly changing market conditions, evolving consumer expectations, new retailer requirements, and emerging brands offering great experiences.

    Continue auditing your product range across all engagement points, then prioritize and take action again. The product that performs great today likely won’t look as good tomorrow, so you must continually iterate.

To do this at scale, you need to leverage technology. It’s too difficult a proposition to work manually. 

You need technology with an elastic data model to store complex products, you need it to orchestrate the process, and you need it to provide data-driven guidance. Ideally, you need all three of these capabilities on one platform. This gives you limitless possibilities for modeling, the digital speed to react quickly (which is a huge competitive advantage), and engagement intelligence. 

Winning the online shopper:  
 The power of compelling product pages
Courtesy of inRiver

This concept is nothing new. Brands have long looked at assortments in physical stores; it’s the same concept today, but now there are many more digital engagement points to audit – your website, social presence, marketplaces, retailer sites, and more. You need intelligence from all those touchpoints to allow you to react and win. 

That’s where a digital-first PIM (product information management) comes in. A solid digital-first PIM delivers on modeling, guidance, and orchestration – driving revenue by ensuring your product information is available at every customer touchpoint. 


In summary, product pages and product content are extremely important. With that being the case, it’s vital to ensure you have a clear strategy for creating irresistible product pages. Here’s a reminder of how to make that happen:

  1. Define what’s important. 
  2. Continuously audit and iterate on your product content. 
  3. Leverage technology to achieve scale.

If you do this right, you’ll have a real opportunity to win on the digital shelf and drive revenue. It won’t be easy, but with the right technology and strategy, you’ll be able to drive the revenue your business needs.

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