10 Ways to Better Describe Products on eCommerce Websites

Returns are so commonplace that some shoppers today don’t feel the need to try on clothing or test drive electronics. In fact, retailers have made the returns process so simple that many consumers consider returning multiple items as part of the decision-making process.

According to an article posted on DailyFinance.com, industry estimates put consumer returns each year at about $264 billion – about 9 percent of total sales. And although there are many reasons that could justify a return, many happen because the consumer didn’t get what they expected.

To avoid returns of this nature, it’s important to properly describe a product up front. To tackle that task, keep the following tips in mind when crafting product descriptions:

1. Point of reference. They say that a picture is worth 1,000 words. And the proverbial “they” are right. But when a picture of clothing is displayed, for example, so much more value can be placed on those thousand words when a point of reference is given. Some of the most successful apparel sellers give the height of the model and the size of apparel that he or she is wearing. And making comparisons with average-sized pieces of clothing will help even more. If the fit is slim, for example, tell your website visitors in the description.

2. The whole is not greater than the sum of its parts. Although it’s imperative to give a product overview, it is often helpful to describe each of its elements. If a retailer or manufacturer can describe the individual materials that make up the total product, consumers have a better idea of what they are purchasing. If an outdoor folding chair has a metal frame and a cloth seat, describe the metal as well as the cloth. That way, shoppers won’t be blindsided with unexpected product makeup when the item arrives.

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3. Let your customers do the talking. Although product reviews aren’t a revolutionary idea, they shouldn’t be discounted in the slightest. Not only are consumers reliant on product reviews, often times, purchasers might have insight that the seller didn’t think of when putting together the product description.

4. Include the differentiators. You know why your product is better than the competition, but your customers might not. After a product has gone through R&D and has finally made its way to the marketplace, it has probably gone through several iterations. Each of those iterations was an improvement from the previous one. Therefore, explain what upgrades made the final cut. This gives shoppers a clearer picture of what they can expect when the product shows up at their doorstep. For example, if the first iteration was uncomfortable to hold, let shoppers know that you’ve created an ergonomic product that fits comfortably in the palm of their hands.

5. Don’t be vague. When describing something like leather, using “high-quality” or “genuine” doesn’t really say much to potential buyers. Assume instead that your customer base is well-informed on what constitutes quality when it comes to your product. Sticking with the leather theme, it’s smart to include the grade of leather that was used. Grade 1 leather is the highest quality, which clarifies what shoppers can expect. If they’re unfamiliar with the grades of leather, more often than not, savvy shoppers will do a quick and dirty search, which will reveal that Grade 1 leather is the highest quality available.

6. Back up your claims. If you have the confidence to say that your product is the best, qualify that statement with facts and statistics. For example, if you say that you have the best granola cereal on the market, follow it up with sales figures that actually place it above your competition. If you say that your tires are the best, back it up with endorsements from respected firms like Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds.com.

7. Deliver clean copy. The moment that a reader stumbles across a typo, all authority that you may have established on the product is erased. If you don’t feel comfortable editing your own work (which is never recommended), contract a freelancer to do the editing for you.

8. Consistency counts. If you offer up a thorough description for one product, make sure that you do the same for the rest of your products. Sometimes, a shopper might be torn between two items, and the only way to make up their mind is to do a side-by-side comparison. If the copy for one far outweighs the copy for another, the worst-case scenario includes them buying neither.

9. Use the inverted pyramid. When journalists write an article, they include the most important details first. When writing from the top down, so to speak, visitors to a product page will be able to get all of the pertinent information quickly and easily. If they choose to read on, the supporting facts will, of course, be included. But don’t forget; shoppers don’t want “just the facts, ma’am.” They just want the most important ones to be easy to find.

10. Be original. Just because two items are fairly similar doesn’t mean that you can simply copy and paste the descriptions. For starters, Google isn’t a fan of this practice. In fact, Google might just flag you for those types of redundancies. The same holds true for resellers who reuse the product descriptions that are provided to them from the original manufacturer.

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