It seems simple: upload accurate product descriptions that detail attributes specific to items in order to lure the appropriate consumers. In execution, though, retailers are faltering, leading to customer turnoff and high return rates that are crippling brand equity. Product tagging and meta data are crucial in achieving high sale conversions and building consumer trust.
A recent report released by Salsify, a cloud-based content management platform confirmed just how imperative accurate product descriptions. “Ninety percent of today’s consumers shop online and almost all — 88 percent — expect product information to be accurate, rich and complete if they are to consider hitting the buy button,” the report said. What’s more, the survey found shoppers rank product descriptions as the top deciding factor in finalizing a purchase.
Here, Jenn Markey, vice president of marketing at 360pi, a retail price and product intelligence service agency weighs on the impact of product listing, companies deploying successful strategies, and guidance on improving existing listings.
WWD: Accurate and rich product details seem like a basic concept that’s simple to execute. What are the challenges that are keeping retailers and brands from succeeding in this effort?
Jenn Markey: The top three culprits preventing the supply of accurate and rich product details to shoppers are legacy silos and systems of departments within brands and retailers touch product data and traditionally there have been few processes and tools to ensure data integrity and consistency.
Diverse product content requirements and retailers’ ability to support different requests, different types of product content in different formats, which leads to inconsistent and incomplete listings. Retailer partners seek differentiation beyond price — e-commerce has brought with it unparalleled price transparency. Many retailers seek to level the playing field with shoppers by offering differentiated product listings including their own images and descriptions that are more difficult to price-shop across sites.
WWD: What are the biggest implications for retailers who fail at offering accurate product descriptions and meta data?
J.M.: The quality and completeness of online product listings have a direct and quantifiable impact on cart abandonments, product sales, repeat purchases and brand equity.
WWD: How is retailer ROI affected after introducing accurate product descriptions?
J.M.: Simply, the more detailed your product information is, the more likely that customers will see and then click on your products.
WWD: Which brands and retailers are doing this well?
J.M.: In apparel, these three online retailers come to mind: Everlance, Net-a-porter.com and Zappos.com are doing particularly well. In addition, Google, Amazon and eBay are all actively working to help their sellers improve the integrity of their product listings with tools and tips to increase their own dominance with shoppers and within the retail channel.