Why product descriptions matter?

The product page is often a pivotal point in the user journey. Based on the product description information, some users are confident enough in a product’s suitability to decide to purchase it. On the contrary, the lack of adequate product information may cause other users to abandon the page, often even the site itself.

Furthermore, when sites did not provide the information that is needed, some users would make incorrect assumptions about a product. This primarily results in frustration and needless returns.

Based on our analysis of Australia’s largest e-commerce sites, 47% failed to provide a consistent and high level of detail for their product descriptions.

This article will talk about: 

  • How insufficient product descriptions lead to users abandoning products
  • What basic information should you be providing in product descriptions 
  • How accurate descriptions support product images and improve conversion

Insufficient Product Descriptions Leads to Users Abandoning Products

Users often dismiss the product when they are unable to find other information that supports the product. They will often abandon a product when vital information is missing from the product description.

Overly brief product description can be frustrating to a user and reduce credibility. Extremely brief product descriptions often fail to give users enough confidence about a product to consider purchasing it.

Due to the lack of adequate information and overly brief product descriptions, most users quickly moved on to consider another product or a different website. This holds true, especially when users encounter more than one short description on the site. The users then assume that the quality of descriptions represents the overall quality of the product. 

Other users spend a little more time on the product pages, say around 1–3 minutes, scanning different product sections for more details. They may find what they are looking for in a review sometimes, but inadequate product descriptions place unnecessary strain on other page sections, which do not resolve the issue for users either.

It’s important to remember in a physical store, a customer can consult with an employee and learn more about a product and its features. An online shopping experience is restrictive: even if the shoppers have the option to “chat” about an available product, almost no users are likely to do so.

Therefore, product descriptions are supremely vital for online retailers. When given the complete product details, the users are likely to purchase the product. If the description fails to meet users’ expectations, many will abandon rather than take a chance on purchasing the product.

Information product descriptions should have been provided 

eCommerce websites must provide sufficient information in product descriptions to give users enough to consider purchasing a product.

Yet what exactly should be provided differs, from site to site and from product to product. However, even though it would be impossible to anticipate every high-priority question a user may have about a product, addressing the needs of many users can be relatively straightforward for most product types.

Mentioned below are some examples of common information that users usually look for but was most times not provided by sites.

  1. Materials

Materials — or generally a product’s composition — were key product details that users sought out when they were looking to purchase a product. This type of information could mean the chemical composition of health, beauty, makeup and skincare products, or the material composition or textile and of apparel, clothing items, athletic shoes or accessories.

For example, 50% of users, when shopping for beauty products, required information regarding the ingredients to be listed. In case this information was not available, users were quick to dismiss a product in favour of one with a more detailed product description. Moreover, while many users just want to get an overview, some have specific concerns about particular ingredients — which might be based on allergies or other sensitivities.

Therefore, users also react positively to product information about what ingredients are explicitly not included. These intentional omissions could be potentially harmful chemicals.

Similarly, users’ interest in apparel materials most likely could be related to future care instructions — which are sometimes included in product descriptions as well. For example, some users may be looking for technical benefits of the material itself — such as Gore-Tex being waterproof or spandex being flexible. Other users may have material sensitivities or simply preferences for one material type over another.

Whatever the users’ needs happen to be, including material and ingredient information helped many users find suitable products and made their ultimate purchasing decisions easier.

2. Product Dimensions

For example, a user is trying to buy a pair of yoga pants but the seller has not specified anything about the dimensions except the sizing terminology as Small, Medium and Large. This forces the user to do a lot of guesswork. Product dimensions were observed in testing to be important to most users looking for physical items. Many had questions or concerns which could be linked to a product’s measurements.

Whether it was external dimensions or the particular dimensions of a given feature, users were often swayed by the presence — or absence — of the product’s dimension and size details:

  • External dimensions are often very important to users shopping for large items, such as appliances, or for items that have a strictly prescribed use case, such as luggage — which must comply with flight travel regulations.
  • Feature dimensions, which are more specific than external dimensions, describe particular parts of a product — for example, giving individual “seat” and “back” dimensions in addition to the overall dimensions. Some products only include external dimensions and overlook the individualized feature dimensions, which give users a much clearer picture of the product.

How Thorough Descriptions Can Support Product Images

Since product images are crucial in helping users find a suitable product, questions or concerns that arise from these images should be addressed in the product description.

During testing, users were intrigued by a feature depicted in a product image and wanted to learn more about it — and would often look to the product description to fill in the gaps. Even when supporting captions are provided for ambiguous images, the following image types are particularly likely to prompt users to seek answers in the product description.

  1. Images That Include Descriptive Graphics

“I wanted to see if the tights were moisture-wicking, nylon and Polyester…and it said ‘Cotton and Polyester. Which I thought was helpful to know.” The image for gym tights displayed with the materials written on them. This evocative image, which illustrated a key feature of the product, prompted the user to investigate the product description so they could discover more information about this particular feature. (second image).

Product images that include graphics are meant to bring attention to features that may be especially evocative, however, potentially ambiguous, misleading, or otherwise hard to interpret for users.

Indeed, these images were consistently observed during testing to lead to additional questions from users.

Therefore, any graphics included for product images, which could be ambiguous or misinterpreted, should be further explained in the product description. Users who already understood the graphic would have their understanding confirmed, while uncertain users will be able to fill in the gaps using the product description.

Site-Specific Icons:

“I’m definitely interested in working out what [the ‘Clean at Sephora’ icon] means…I am assuming that means that it’s free of a particular list of ingredients that Sephora has decided on.” The “Clean at Sephora” icon (first image) prompted this user to speculate on the meaning of the icon, which she found in the product description (second image). Even though this user’s assumption was mostly accurate, she was able to verify the icon’s meaning because the definition was included in the product description at Sephora.

Similar to images that include graphics, icons are sometimes used to bring attention to specific facets of a product — which are often site-specific.

While the general idea behind these icons may be correctly inferred from context by some users, other users may misunderstand their actual meaning.

In either case, including a definition of an icon’s meaning in the product description is necessary to fully explain its nuances to the user.

Otherwise, users will have to hunt for this information elsewhere on the site — and where that information may be found won’t be obvious to users (if it’s explained at all).

Okkular’s Automated Tag-Gen

Writing product description or attributes of the product can be super exhausting. Moreover, consistency in product data and attributes can be difficult to come by. If you are manually adding the descriptions the chances of errors may rise. If you are a retailer in the fashion and apparel space providing adequate descriptions becomes vital sinse the shoppers rely on such information to make a purchase.

While it may sound like a tedious task it is important to provide a holistic shopping experience, therefore Okkular has leverage AI to create the perfect solution to adding product tags/attributes and product descriptions.