How Important Are Product Descriptions?

Product content is anything on your website that directly relates to your products. This includes product descriptions, information, photos, reviews, etc. And according to a recent report released by Shotfarm, the quality of product content on your website can have a hugely significant impact on the success of your ecommerce business.

Shotfarm surveyed over 1500 consumers, gathering data about online shopping habits, especially with regard to product content and how important it is in impacting their purchasing decisions. They found unambiguously, across price-ranges, purchasing channels and product categories, that the information stores provide about their products and how they present them are a really big deal to shoppers.

One of the clearest takeaways from this study was that consumers directly link the quality of product information with their decision of whether or not to click “buy.” This information was rated “very important” by 78% of those surveyed, and perhaps more significantly, only 2% said that product information was not important at all.

Product descriptions and images were by far the most significant content when it came to making a purchasing decision. This might be somewhat surprising considering how much emphasis people tend to place on the importance of reviews. While product reviews were rated as very important to 39% of consumers, they clearly lagged behind in importance when compared to information provided directly from the seller.

It turns out that product information accuracy is also a huge problem for consumers. Whether this is due to poorly written descriptions or incorrect and incomplete information being provided from manufacturers to sellers, consumers are letting their displeasure be known, and online shops are bearing the ill effects. A whopping 42% of people say they have returned an online purchase in the past year specifically because of poor or inaccurate product information that did not match the product they received. Not only do these returns cost money to process, they also divert time and resources away from making new sales – an especially killer double-whammy for small businesses.

Whether or not the customer decides to make a return on a product, sub-par product content does not go unnoticed. While the hit from a return may be financially significant, the bigger, more long-lasting downside comes in the form of brand trust. A product that doesn’t meet expectations set by the online product content is the single most impactful negative influence on a customer’s experience. Even after just a single bad experience with inaccurate product information, 86% of people said they’d be unlikely to give that brand a second chance. That’s more than TWICE the number who had actually made a return. Building trust and loyalty with customers is difficult and fragile. And once it’s gone, it may never come back.

Clearly, product content becomes a very big deal after a purchase is made, but what about beforehand? 90% of online shoppers say that they have abandoned an online shopping cart at some point. The top reasons why consumers get cold feet? Cost, delivery time, and poor product descriptions and images. More than 50% noted poor descriptions or poor images as a reason for cart abandonment, and another 25% cited lack of reviews.

If you want an example of an industry that is getting it right more often than not, look to Consumer Electronics as a model. Respondents ranked Consumer Electronics as both the industry for which they had the highest expectations of product content, as well as the industry with the highest quality content.

Overall, the studies show that across all industries and product types, when sellers provide high quality, accurate information, descriptions and images, it can have real positive impacts on their business – as well as help to avoid negative impacts. Product information is incredibly important to consumers, and that means it should be incredibly important to you.

Need help drafting strategic product descriptions or other content for your brand? Contact us today!