5 Product Page Turn-Offs Guaranteed to Wipe Out Your Sales

Posted by Hannah Stacey 25 Apr 14

It’s almost impossible to overstate the importance of the role that product pages play in the process of converting casual browsers into customers; the battle for that all-important online sale can be won or lost by the great (or not-so-great) way in which you showcase what you’re offering.

It’s a bit like a first date: making a great first impression is key, and just as talking about a past heartbreak, your penchant for the work of Justin Bieber, or the fact your mum still irons your socks for you would likely set off all kinds of alarm bells with the person you’re trying to impress, there are a number of product page gaffes that can act as a massive turn-off for potential customers. Here are some of the worst offenders.


1) Being too ‘out there’ with your layout

Ever wondered why a lot of product pages seem to follow a familiar pattern when it comes to their layout? You may think that you’re differentiating yourself from your competitors or flexing your creative muscles by mixing up the format of your product pages, but in actual fact you could be turning visitors off.

Why? It all comes down to what the pros call ‘patterning’ - online shoppers become accustomed to a certain format and tend to feel uncomfortable when this changes too much.

How to get it right:

  • Keep all the important stuff (i.e. product name, pictures, calls to action) above the ‘fold’ (old print talk for the part of the screen you can see without scrolling)

  • Think about what your customers’ goals and preferences are and prioritise the different elements of your page accordingly. For example, if the aesthetic of a product is likely to be incredibly important to a customer, make sure that the first thing their eyes fall on is an image of what’s on offer. Likewise, if you’re getting a lot of non-domestic traffic to a certain page, be sure make your international delivery rates are prominent.

  • Don’t stray too far from the path when it comes to arranging the layout of your page. This post from Econsultancy does a great job of explaining where key elements should be placed. Remember to keep this consistent throughout your site.

  • Keep things simple. Use analytics to test which elements of the page are being used or clicked. If your visitors aren’t interested in a certain feature (for example, clicking on an advert for your blog), scrap it - you want to make the user journey as distraction- and clutter-free as you can (all whilst maintaining usability, of course).

2) Using dull product pictures

Images are arguably the most important element of any product page: get them right and your product will fly off the (virtual) shelves, get them wrong and your prospects will be clicking the back button faster than you can utter the words ‘pixelated mess’.

The cardinal sins of product imagery include:

  • Pixelated/out of focus images (no excuse for these ones, guys)

  • Small or far-away pictures that don’t let visitors see any detail

  • Images that only show a product from one viewpoint (i.e. only from the front)

  • Images with clashing/distracting backgrounds

  • Any kind of distortion or stretching

  • Bad photoshopping (including using image-altering software to vary the product colour on what is clearly the same photo)

You might be breathing a sigh of relief if none of the above apply to your website, but these are just a few of the worst offences: a lot stands between poor product images and photos that make people fall in love with what you’re offering.

How to get product images right:

  • Make sure all the images you use are high quality and professional-looking
  • Make your images BIG - there’s evidence to suggest that bigger images convert better. Here’s a great example of beautiful product imagery that really captures your attention by Fifty Three.

  • Include multiple images of the product, and make sure they cover all the important angles - A distinct advantage of being a high street retailer is that customers can pick up products and experience them in real life. While this isn’t possible online, giving visitors a good idea of what a product looks like from different angles is very important - a lot of sites offer 360 degree product views to this end.

  • The devil’s in the detail, and giving your visitors the option to zoom in on images leaves them (hopefully) in no doubt that they’ll be getting just what they expect.
  • If a product you’re selling is patterned, make sure you include a close-up shot of it so that people can see it in detail.

  • If you can, try and show pictures in context as well as on their own (but remember not to make contextual pictures too distracting).

3) Not communicating stock levels effectively

There’s nothing more infuriating than falling in love with a product, adding it to your basket and at the very last moment being told it’s out of stock. No online store wants to be associated with being a let down and, although you may not want to give away exact numbers, letting customers know whether something is out of stock or running out soon will prevent disappointment, and in the latter case, perhaps prompt a sale.

How to get it right:

  • If an item is out of stock, make sure you communicate it with customers as soon as possible. If you can, let them know when you expect it to be back in stock again. Likewise, if an item is only out of stock in certain colours or sizes, find the best way of conveying this (a good example is from ASOS below).

  • If an item is out of stock, a good way of keeping your customers engaged is offering them similar alternatives

  • Customers often check products out online before heading to a store to buy them. If you’re a multichannel retailer, avoid landing your shop assistants in trouble by allowing customers check stock levels for their desired purchase at local branches online.

4) The copy doesn’t make anyone jump for joy

Although great visuals are vital, backing them up with persuasive copy in the form of well-crafted product descriptions if also a must. After all, lacklustre copy will probably make people feel pretty lacklustre about the product.

How to get it right:

  • Use language that really appeals to a visitor’s senses - get them to experience the product rather than just browse it.

  • Never copy and paste descriptions from the manufacturer’s website - apart from spelling out an SEO disaster, it means the tone of voice will not be consistent across your website.

  • Make a list of questions that visitors might be asking about the product and make sure that all of these are covered somewhere on your product page. For example, what colours/sizes are available? What is the product made of? How does it work? How big is it? What spec does it come with? What size is the model in the picture wearing?

  • Be sure to include what is special or unique about the product. For example, if the product is made in a country synonymous with quality, then say so.

  • You should explain the benefit(s) your product will bring to a purchaser. For example, if you’re a fashion retailer, the goal may be to create a certain image to match a potential buyer’s lifestyle.

  • Personal pronouns like ‘you’ make the prospective customer feel like the page and the product were created just for them.

  • Write in a language your audience understands and relates to. This may include using specific technical vocabulary or jargon.

  • Make sure the keyword group relevant to your specific product page is integrated into your product copy early on, in order to maximise its search engine ranking.

5) Your pages aren't mobile optimised

Nobody needs to be told that mobile shopping is rapidly catching up, and even overtaking desktop browsing for many online retailers. And mobile and responsive design is no longer considered by consumers as a nice extra, it’s expected, so make sure that your product pages are optimised so they don’t leave mobile users out in the cold.

How to get it right:

  • As with desktop websites, make sure that images are big and are high enough quality to be zoomed in on.
  • Keep mobile sites as clutter-free and simple as possible.
  • Make call to action buttons like ‘add to cart’ big, finger-friendly and easy to click.
  • Make navigation and browsing buttons clear and easy to use.
  • For some examples of beautiful mobile product pages, check out this blog post from Econsultancy.


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