January 4th, 2009 | 3 MIN READ

Reducing Customer Anxiety About Products on Product Pages

Written by author_profile_images Linda Bustos

Linda is an ecommerce industry analyst and consultant specializing in conversion optimization and digital transformation.

The final variable in the Marketing Experiments conversion sequence is "a" for anxiety about following through with a purchase.

Some of this anxiety is about the product, some is about you as a retailer. You must address both. And unlike friction (resistance) which must be minimized and balanced with an attractive incentive, anxiety needs aggressive overcorrection on your website.

Ecommerce anxiety comes in a number of flavors, including fears about:

  • Quality of the product
  • Quality and reliability of your customer service
  • Will the item arrive on time?
  • Will the product be as described or as appears on screen? Is it the right color or size?
  • Will it fit? Is this item true to size?
  • What if the product needs to be returned?
  • Is this site secure (privacy, credit card information)?
  • Is this really the best price?

Today's post will focus on anxiety on the product page specifically.

Addressing Anxiety About the Product on Product Pages

The e-tailing group conducted a consumer survey last summer and found that product descriptions were the most important to help make a purchase decision, followed by the merchant's guarantee, stock availability and quality of images. (One can assume for certain categories like jewelry and apparel, images are even more important).

The survey also found:

  • 76% believe content is insufficient to complete research or purchase online “always, most often or some of the time”
  • 79% “rarely or never” purchase a product without complete product information
  • 72% will abandon a site for a competitor or research further online, typically finding what they want elsewhere

Product Descriptions

One of the most effective ways to address customer fears in product descriptions is to research what actual buyers of the product care about by reading customer reviews -- including reviews on other sites like Amazon, Buzzillions and competitors.

Product Images

Multiple views and zoom tools are very helpful for customers to get a closer look of a 2-dimensional image. Showing products in context can dramatically improve conversion because it shows the relative size of an item, what it can hold, how it looks on a person and so on.

The increasing use of video merchandising like Martin + Osa's shop-by-outfit and Tiger Direct's video reviews/demos are also effective.

Customer Reviews

There are many statistics touting the virtues of customer reviews, even negative reviews, improve conversion because it gives customers more information about a product (that doesn't come out of a marketer's mouth) and a better sense of trust.

Beyond just having reviews, the usability of your reviews can improve conversion, like allowing customers to hone in on 1 star reviews or 5 star reviews:

Or allowing products to be rated by attributes:

Amazon also allows customers to vote reviews as helpful and not helpful, and shows the top positive and top negative reviews, and allows search within all reviews:

Pluribo is also an exciting technology that uses natural language data mining to summarize a product's strengths and weaknesses extracted from a number of product reviews. So far, it's only available for select categories on Amazon through a Firefox browser extension.

But Amazon doesn't have all the review-toys, Shoes.com uses Bazaarvoice's Ask & Answer product, and Shoeline has its own Return-o-Meter to reduce customer fears about products.

Stock Availability

Showing that an item is in stock is good usability, as well as sizes and colors in stock without the customer having to add to cart to find out. Nine West does this well with rollovers and broken outlines:

Overstock creates a bit of anxiety -- good anxiety (urgency) on products close to selling out:

Limited Inventory!
Sell out Risk: VERY HIGH
In Stock if you order today: Leaves our warehouse in 1-3 business days.

Note the buying guide link and "you can always remove it later" assurance are appropriately placed as these are other fears customers may have.

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