July 01, 2014

Ecommerce Research Chart: What should online stores show on product pages?

SUMMARY: There are many elements Internet retailers can display on product pages. In fact, we surveyed ecommerce companies about 20 different items that could possibly be included on product pages.

The real question is: Which elements are disproportionately displayed by the most successful companies?

In this chart, see what 1,827 marketers said they display on product pages, and compare those results by success score.
by Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content

In the MarketingSherpa Ecommerce Benchmark Study, we asked:

Q. What information does your website display alongside each product? (Select all that apply)

View Chart Online

Click here to see a printable version of this chart

More is better (with one notable exception)

For 19 of the page elements, the more successful companies (you can learn more about how the success scores were calculated in the Benchmark Study) were more likely to have these elements — everything from price and images to product credibility indicators and videos — on product pages.

The one notable exception was links to external sites.

While perhaps companies use links to external sites to help with SEO or provide third-party credibility, before sending customers off your site and out of your funnel from product pages, consider how it could hurt conversion.

Ratings and reviews used more frequently by successful companies

As we look deeper into the chart's data and compare specific product page elements, we can identify the elements that have especially large differences in how often they are displayed by the more and less successful companies.

With any product a customer buys, there is always concern that it will not live up to their expectations.

This caveat emptor, or buyer beware, is even greater when a customer buys from an online store and cannot touch and feel the product — especially if they are a new customer.

Ratings and reviews can help reduce that anxiety.

In the survey that informed this Benchmark Study, one marketer replied about overcoming her online store's critical challenge: "Not proving credibility was a key factor, which we improved upon by offering up reviews from credible sources, and providing a generous money-back guarantee."

When using ratings and reviews to reduce anxiety, make sure you are doing so honestly:
  • Do not "goose up" the ratings artificially or publish fake reviews

  • Do not delete negative reviews

Ratings and reviews reduce anxiety and build credibility when they are honest — including both the good and the bad.

In addition, customers can find other reviews and ratings about most products from other sources — from the gold standard of Consumer Reports to countless blogs, review sites, social networks and even other ecommerce stores — so if the information your store provides paints an overly rosy picture of a faulty product, you will lose trust.

Shipping information displayed more frequently on product pages by successful companies

"How much will this cost? And when can I get it?"

These are two fundamental questions customers have when they are on your product pages.

It shouldn't be surprising that more successful companies are also more likely to display shipping time and cost on product pages.

What is surprising is how infrequently even the successful companies display this information, with only about one-third displaying shipping and handling cost and even fewer successful ecommerce sites displaying shipping time.

Test what works for your site

Hopefully, the above data will give you ideas for product page split tests on your own ecommerce site to learn what really works for your unique customers.

To learn how split testing can help determine which product page elements are most effective on your site, you can watch "Product Pages Tested: How carefully pinpointing customer anxiety led to a 78% increase in conversion."

In this MarketingExperiments Web clinic, we explained how we tested four elements from the above chart — shipping (or access) time, site security indicators, description and product specifications — with a large e-book retailer. We also showed which elements increased conversion the most.

Related Resources

Ecommerce Research Chart: Does customer responsiveness correlate with success?

Ecommerce Research Chart: How can companies increase conversion rates? [Video]

Customer-centric Marketing: How transparency translates into trust

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