Snapshot : In this article we’ll look at what makes for successful product page content in online stores. We’ll do this by trying to buy the same wildly available product – Coca Cola – from a number of different online stores including impulse, grocery and Amazon.
In our guide to how to get more sales online, we cover the three basics you need for product page content – the product name, the product description and product images.
But often you’ll need more than the basics. So, this week we’re going online to look at a couple of more advanced examples to see what we can learn from manufacturers and online retailers.
What other content helps drive sales, and what can we learn from how product pages are set up in different online channels.
Let’s have a Coke … online
To help us compare product page content in different online channels, we wanted a product that’d be available in many of these channels.
We picked Coca-Cola because it ticks both those boxes and Coca-Cola also has a reputation as being an e-Commerce and digital marketing leader.
It’s also an interesting brand to consider from an e-Commerce planning point of view.
Firstly, because it’s a low value per purchase, a relatively heavy item and widely available everywhere. This essentially would make it tough to drive Direct-to-Consumer sales of Coke. What would be the benefit for the consumer? It’s much more likely to sell through online retailers.
Though you can find some wholesale options to buy Coke direct online, their focus is more to secure their share of sales through other online retail channels.
We also know that globally and in Australia, they employ dedicated e-Commerce teams who manage their presence with online retailers. They invest in the online channel. Not every brand does this.
And finally, because it’s often an impulse driven purchase, and that’s quite a hard need to satisfy online. You need the product to be widely available geographically so that it’s never far from where an order is placed. And you need an order to delivery system that can quickly respond to an order and deliver the product.
Impulse shopping online
For Coca-Cola, this means you use a food delivery system like Uber Eats, or you sell through a more local specialised delivery company.
On Uber Eats, if you want to order Coca-Cola, you can only satisfy your impulse need through third-party restaurants. You need to order your Coke with some sort of food.
So that means you get your Coke from places like Pizza Hut, Subway or Hungry Jacks.
If you want Coke without food, then you need to try somewhere else.
They mainly focus on alcohol, but include mixers like Coca-Cola in their range.
But niche as they are, they only offer a choice of two Coke products. Only bottles and no cans.
We’re pretty certain Jimmy Brings only include Coca-Cola as a convenience to their customers. From the fact they only list two products, it’s unlikely to be a very profitable part of their business.
Grocery shopping online
Which brings us to the more likely scenario where you would buy Coca-Cola online. And that’s as part of your regular grocery shop.
This is where Coke is part of your regular routine and you keep a stock in the fridge. If you did want to buy bigger quantities of Coke, this is where you’d go. So, let’s look at three examples and see what the experience of buying a Coke is like in online grocery in Australia.
Coca-Cola on Woolworths
Well, first off the good news with Woolworths, there’s imagery, the brand name and product descriptor right up front. In fact, they have five images available including the front, side and top of pack.
The images are a little uninspiring from a consumer point of view, but they are functional. Especially when you throw in an image of the nutrient label and one solitary lifestyle image of a consumer holding the can.
But here’s the thing.
Click on the link and scroll down the page. There, you’ll find ingredients, allergen, nutritional information and product warnings. Plus a big disclaimer and a selection of Also Viewed / Also Bought products.
And that’s about it.
Coca-Cola on Coles
If we look at the same pack available in Coles, the first thing that jumps out is the difference in price. There’s a whopping $14.60 saving as the product is on special at the time we went on site.
But get over that, what you’ll find is a single solitary image of the box with a can.
You’ll find pretty much the same product description that you find on the Woolworths site. (This is because they most likely pull from the same product information system in the background).
And there’s a little bit of nutritional information and again another disclaimer. (We would say retailers seem to like disclaimers, but we know it’s actually because they are scared of complaints and legal actions. They find themselves forced to put these disclaimers in to protect themselves).
But that’s pretty much all you get out of Coles.
Coca-Cola on Amazon
And then finally, let’s look at Coke on Amazon Australia.
Here we get six images, including a quality image of the nutritional label and three more lifestyle looking shots.
But what’s this?
Here we also have product ratings. We get a FREE delivery order.
There’s the same(ish) product description but also a subscription delivery option. This option even asks how often you want the delivery.
Clever stuff. All very clear calls to action for the shopper.
On that same page, if you scroll down, you’ll also find more product details, frequently bought and viewed items, another disclaimer (!), but also images and a video from Coca-Cola, a Q and A section, more details on the reviews, plus a whole load of links back to our Amazon browsing history.
That’s a lot of good product page content going on there.
What e-Commerce learning do you take from this?
Well, first off, we obviously don’t have access to the sales numbers that each of these pages delivers. Only the retailers and Coke will be able to tell you that.
But what you can take from it is if you sell your products through online retailers is that you will likely run into two different approaches.
Make the purchase simple
With retailers like Woolworths and Coles, the focus is on making the purchase as simple as possible. There is a school of thought that less is more in e-Commerce.
When you remove anything that gets in the way of a purchase, you improve the customer experience. You reduce drop-out rates.
And in the case of very familiar products like Coca-Cola, that all makes sense. However, most businesses are NOT Coca-Cola. They have brands that are less familiar to shoppers. And this less is more approach doesn’t work so well for unfamiliar products.
So, if you are selling a product that is less well-known by consumers, you actually have very limited opportunity to ‘sell’ your product with some online retailers.
The templates that Woolworths and Coles use for their product pages apply to ALL their products. Even the way more obscure and unusual ones.
Their systems are set up to be easily managed and maintained by limiting the amount of information that is supplied about a product.
It focuses on operational efficiency rather than shopper experience. And while this makes it more reliable, it feels like an IT rather than a marketing led way to think about the customer.
Deliver a great experience
Compare that with Amazon. On that page, you can directly buy the product and ignore all the ‘fluff’ that sits around it. But for some customers we know that extra fluff encourages sales.
It attracts attention. It adds to the customer experience. It’s enough to bring in more customers in and get more customers to buy.
On a page for page comparison with Woolworths and Coles, we’d lay good odds that Amazon’s conversion rates are higher.
Put the customer first
You can see how Amazon puts the online customer first.
There’s convenient options to save time (subscribe and save). There’s reviews of the delivery service. Read these and you feel reassured. The product will be delivered on time and in a decent state.
It just all makes sense as an online shopping experience. The shopping experience shows why Amazon is one of the world’s leading online retailers.
And Woolworths and Coles, hmm, not so much.
Now, we know that Woolworths and Coles do good business online. But they do that because of the habitual buying pattern of Aussie shoppers. Not because their online shopping experience adds real value.
If we were to look at how to create a successful product page, Amazon would be our benchmark.
More online shopping?
Phew, this article writing is thirsty work, we’re off to have a Pepsi now.
But in future weeks, we plan to go through the same process in a couple of quite different categories. Let us know if there’s any channels or products you’d like us to cover.
For more e-Commerce lessons, check out our article on e-Commerce lessons from 2020. For more on product page content specifically, check out our guide on how to sell more online. Contact us if you need specific advice on how to set up your own product page content.