Digital Versus Physical
You’re at a big box store, hoping to purchase a new printer. With a price range in mind and a few specifics about what you’re after, you peruse printers on the shelves, checking out their specs, and imagining them in your office. A sales associate comes by and talks you through the features and benefits of some top choices.
Each step of this shopping experience brings you closer to a purchase. Your focus narrows from the entire printer aisle to a handful of models. Checking out the product info and talking with the sales associate, you get a better idea of which printer is the one for you.
A digital shopping experience includes a similar journey of discovery, research, and purchase. In the digital space, search listings and product pages replace store aisles and stocked shelves. Product images are stand-ins for the physical product itself. Enhanced content becomes the sales team, presenting product features and benefits for a complete, concise, and accurate view of the real life product.
And that’s the obvious difference between the physical and the digital: online shopping lacks a physical product and the benefits of an in-person experience, such as talking with a sales associate. When properly crafted, an online product page presents a product just as well—maybe even better—than the physical product on the shelf.
Elements of the Digital Shopping Experience
Ready to create an online shopping experience to rival (and support) offline sales? Consider these three touch points: digital discoverability, digital packaging, and enhanced content. Let’s break it down.
When most people think about search rankings, they think about Google. But online retailers such as Amazon and Walmart.com also have search results pages.
Retailer search rankings are digital equivalents of aisles and shelves in physical retail spaces. Want eye-level placement on the digital shelf? Your product better rise to the top of the search results.
Online reviews and social media also contribute to your product’s digital discovery, its ability to be found online.
Does your digital shopping strategy rely on ranking high on Google SERPs? Landing on the coveted first pages of Google SERPs is difficult, but Search Engine Watch offers this advice: “Your content will see organic search success when you are the brand that customers already trust…Reaching this point means producing high-quality content that answers the needs of customers. Brands need to write what their customers find interesting.”
In the digital space, discoverability is earned through quality content. While there’s more to digital discovery than the content itself, one thing is certain: without it, your product is lost to the nether pages; if it’s not useful, it won’t convert.
Since we can’t reach through our screens to hold products in our hands, digital shopping needs the recreate them with the right images. In the online space, this visual element is a product’s digital packaging.
Profitero‘s recent study of over 1,000+ products found that visual content is key to attracting customers’ attentions. Once shoppers make it to the product page level, they look at images before anything else to asses a product’s quality and desirability. They can come to a decision in seconds about whether the product will fit their needs.
Make your digital packaging stand out with high-quality images. Offer as many photos as your product page allows and include multiple product views. If your platform offers zoom capability, ensure those photos are high-res so your customers can see every detail. Consider creating lifestyle images to show your product in use.
A basic product page will include a product description, an image, and maybe a list of features. Enhanced content, on the other hand, anticipates all the information your customers will want to know about an item and how it will benefit them. Tell shoppers what they need to know about your product so they can make an informed decision about it.
The most successful online sales occur when features and benefits, product specs, and excellent digital packaging come together to create an accurate and compelling product story. Enhanced content also appeals to different types of consumer search behaviors, so you’re sure to reach customers in multiple ways.
In online shopping, enhanced content does the work of your in-store sales and customer service staff. It also helps offline sales, too.
The Future of Shopping is Digital
Digital shopping has been around for 20 years–old enough for us to know its ways, young enough for it to seem highly changeable.
One thing is certain: building winning product pages is a valuable and attainable way to take control of your branding and stand out in the digital space.
To win at digital shopping, make sure your product pages serve the needs of search engines and online shoppers.
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