Getting the Product Detail Listing Right

Jul 28, 2016

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The product detail listing page is arguably one of the most important pages on an e-commerce website. It doesn't matter if you're selling directly to consumers or to other businesses, if you don't get the product detail listing right, consumers are likely to buy less from you—if they even buy at all.

According to a recent Product List benchmark of top 50 US e-commerce sites, 46% of those sites display too little or poorly chosen content. Having too little or low-relevance product information is a problem because visitors lack the details they need to make a assess their interest in an item. At best, this leads to unnecessary (and annoying) bouncing between the product list page and the product detail page to learn basic information about a product.

Balancing the Product List Item Information

As with most things in e-commerce, there's no one-size-fits-all answer, but it's safe to say that a successful product list design should fulfill two requirements:
  • Provide the visitor with enough product information to assess whether or not the product suits their needs.
  • Enable the visitor to get an overview of the products in the list and compare products of interest to one another.
It's definitely a balancing act. Too much information clutters the listing page and takes up valuable real estate and reduces the number of products per page. On the other hand, displaying too little information makes it difficult for visitors to quickly browse, compare, and find items that best meet their needs. A good item list helps the user determine which items are relevant to them and which are not.

The study identified two groups of attributes that should be included in the product listing page: universal attributes and category-specific attributes.

Universal Attributes

Universal attributes are pieces of information that should almost always be displayed on the product listing page, including:
  • Price
  • Product title or type
  • Thumbnail image
  • Product reviews
  • Variations (sizes, colors, materials, etc.)
Price and product type are fairly obvious, but explore the other universal attributes a little more closely:
  • Thumbnails — In addition to having thumbnail images that are the right size and provide users with enough visual product information, product listing pages can also be enhanced by including a secondary hover image and additional information.
  • Product Reviews — Be sure to include both the average review rating as well as the number of reviews/ratings the average is based on. It provides a more accurate indication of the value of the review score.
  • Product variations — Including product variations or at least a visual cue that the product is available in different sizes and/or colors lets a shopper know that a certain product may meet their needs instead. Otherwise, they may reject an item's suitability based on the default variation in represented by the thumbnail.

Category-Specific Attributes

Category-specific attributes are a little more difficult to discuss because they are going to vary widely from industry to industry. A few attributes to consider are:

  • Compatibility — In certain categories, such as technology, the suitability of a product is almost entirely by what other products it is compatible with.
  • Dimensions — If your product line includes bags, cases, or other storage type items, the product dimensions can make it easy for shoppers to determine whether or not the product they are going to carry or use it with will fit.
  • Special Conditions — Some product lines include items that work under special conditions. Examples include safety gear, outdoor products, climate specific items and types of equipment.

Getting the product detail listing page is key to delivering a great customer experience and making it easy for consumers to quickly find the products that meet their needs.