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For all the convenience e-commerce has brought into our lives, one area that e-commerce will never be as good as conventional retail is that you’ll never be able to tell exactly what the product you’re seeing is actually like. The dress viral meme of yesteryear, the one that could be perceived as either colored in blue and black or white and gold depending on who’s viewing the dress is a perfect example of this. When you’re relying simply on a set of information presented to you through a screen, your perception might not always be reliable.

In the traditional retail setting, you could hold the actual product in your grasp and you’re typically free to try out the product if you so choose. You’re not going to get the same opportunity in an e-commerce platform, having to rely only on reviews, photos and other assorted information to make your judgment. For businesses sitting behind an e-commerce platform, you need the necessary web development expertise in order to be able to showcase your products in the best light and providing every bit of necessary information.


The specific challenges of an e-commerce platform

When developing an e-commerce platform, you’re correct to assume that the core platform itself is important. Having a website where it’s easy for users to find exactly what products they’re looking for in a specific price range is indeed important but e-commerce platform operators also need to figure out how to present their products in the best light possible. It’s a mistake to think that quality products and a respectable website where they can be found is enough, the presentation of the product is also important.

Think of it this way, when you’re sitting in a fine-dining establishment, you’re not judging the place simply by the flavor of the food and the level of service & ambience, I’m willing to bet the plating of the food is going to be in your mind as well. In an e-commerce platform, the product page isn’t just about presentation although presentation is indeed an important factor. Product page is an essential element in an e-commerce platform and there are several things you have to keep in mind when designing them, not just the photos of the actual product.


Comprehensive product photos

Ideally, you’d want pictures of your product from every angle, the ability to zoom in and pictures of the product while in use. For certain products, like say a backpack, pictures of the product from the inside would also help. For electronic devices, pictures and demonstration of the UI might also be necessary. For good measure, you might want to include the ability for customers to upload their own pictures or source them from social media platforms like Instagram with permission.

I’ve seen brands combining these user-generated contents with some sort of a contest. Brands invite customers to upload pictures of them wearing or using the product in question and the best pictures are given the opportunity to be displayed in the product page in addition to freebies or discount vouchers as the prizes. This is quite an effective strategy as it encourages users to photos flattering pictures of your product while also increasing engagement and this strategy is definitely worthy of consideration.


Make use of the persuasive power of copywriting

Pictures might be worth a thousand words but there are still certain things that pictures aren’t able to convey and in these situations, you’re going to have to rely on your writing ability. You’re not going to have the space for a 1,000 words article highlighting just why the public should buy this specific product so keep your writing short and sweet. Use several bullet points to showcase the positive characteristics of your product and enlighten the public on several qualities that are invisible to the naked eye.

If the materials you’re using is deserving of a special mention or the product is made through a process or technique that wouldn’t be apparent to the average public, flaunt them. For example, sustainability is currently a big deal, as it should be, and if you’re committed to the cause and that commitment can be seen through your products, showcase them. These details might not matter to everyone but for the discerning customers, every little bit helps. As a note, you might want to hide this information by default and use a “read more” button to ensure that the text won’t seem overwhelming.


Include every necessary technical specification and information

Technical specification is different from copywriting but it’s just as important. This specification is necessary for users to help them choose products that are in line with their needs and wants. If you’re looking for a strap for your watch that has a lug size of 20 mm, you’re not going to need straps with different sizes and it’s important for web developers to provide this basic information in the product page. Size and dimensions, materials, approximate battery life and anything regarding numbers are examples of information you should include in this specification. For highly technical products, you might want to include a download link for the datasheet as well.


Provide alternative options

Color schemes and sizes are two examples that are usually provided as options. If you have several products in the same line that are priced the same with some minor cosmetic differences with each other, you might want to instead use a single product page while providing the ability to customize them inside the product page. This saves customers the hassle of having to flop through different pages to figure out which color suits them. As a side note, you also want to include links to similar products inside the product page to give users more options or to gently nudge them into spending more.