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Bells and Whistles Fail to Increase Online Purchases

 3:27 am on Mar 8, 2001 (gmt 0)

Most of the features added to e-commerce sites to encourage purchasing go unused, according to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which found the most popular site features remain search capabilities and "close-up" product views.
An article ready-made for the forum of the week - here [cyberatlas.internet.com]



 11:02 am on Mar 8, 2001 (gmt 0)

The article has a table at the bottom which lists the same item twice -- "Product Comparison Guides" is listed at both 34% and 24%. Things like that upset me. Also, the study is a survey of 547 shoppers. Is that really a big enough sample to draw conclusions?

But I still feel the study does uncover a truth. I've never once even considered using a "Wish List", or many of the other personalization gizmos.


 1:29 pm on Mar 8, 2001 (gmt 0)

500 shoppers is enough to get a good picture. If they use a good selection method, the margin of error should be 4% or 5%. That's enough to get the Big Picture view -- which is pretty much what that article is about, "the big picture". That lines up with what I have seen. The more expensive the product, the more pictures and information you need to throw at them.

I did a brief strech with an electronics company last fall. I was amazed at how deep people would go. We started with product info that wen two screen deep.

- an overview page with general information and very small photo.
- a indepth page with two click-to-enlarge thumbnails. 75% of the people that went to those pages would view the enlarged thumbnail.

I got the idea that we should have a "super indepth page" that users could click to to see the whole product specifications. I started by just putting up the product specs pages from manufacturers. Then I started putting the whole pdf manual (if available) and user guide online.

For the more expensive items, there was no end to how deep the user would surf looking for product information. One product ($750 brand name laser printer) had 21 pages of info available. Of the 12 users that purchased that product in Oct last year, nine of them went through all 21 pages! People crave info before pulling out that credit card.


 1:45 pm on Mar 8, 2001 (gmt 0)

...assuming you posted the price on the first page.

I've been seeing alot of that lately....they won't post the price on the first page with the thumbnail in order to get you to click deeper and be exposed to more ads or whatever their reason for it. I really hate that. Give me the price right up front, or I'm outta there!



 8:35 pm on Mar 8, 2001 (gmt 0)

>> Give me the price right up front, or I'm outta there!

You said it Scott. The one that really gets me is the site that won't display a price until the item is in the shopping cart. That's WAY too manipulative for my taste. Sometimes with a very high end product, it may not be good to blast the price on page 1, but a clear link to the pricing info is good form.

Brett was mentioning how deep people will go for information. I have one client who sells rather expensive software to the medical profession - $2000 to $3000 a title. We have developed what amounts to a mini-tutorial for each title, 75 to over 100 pages, including full screen shots and a detailed focus on the features.

Prospects take in every page, and the sales, well, lets say this is my most profitable web client. We don't put the price on the top page, but there is a clear link for pricing. It doesn't pay to be coy with someone else budget.


 9:03 pm on Mar 8, 2001 (gmt 0)

My employer's site has products first appear on a thumbnailp photo/short description page... then each thumbnail listing has links to "more info" "manufacturer specs" and "owners manual". I don't think there's any substitute to giving LOTS of info in an online store...

The customers can't pick it up, don't have "friendly sales staff" wandering the floor to answer their questions... There are VERY few things I'll buy online without being able to see the specs.


 9:12 pm on Mar 8, 2001 (gmt 0)

Don't get me wrong. I love specs. But that's number 2 on my list. I wanna see the price before I waste my precious time clicking all around your site. If you have what I'm looking for and the price is right THEN I want to find out more about the product to make sure it's really what I'm after.

If you're price isn't right out there up front, then you must not be very proud of it, so why should I be. I'll go find someone else that's proud of their pricing.

Thumbnail - Short Description/Title - Price - Button for more info/closer look, etc......that's how you make a page that sells. Anything more than that is just dilution, and pulling my eye away from what I'm after.


 9:32 pm on Mar 8, 2001 (gmt 0)

>Thumbnail - Short Description/Title - Price

Couldn't agree more. Also, if your business also prints a catalog, give me a quickie "Product code entry" box so I don't have to search the online version just to click the add to cart button. LL Bean has this, so does TigerDirect (luckily for TigerDirect, because that isn't exactly the best example of a good online catalog).


 10:44 pm on Mar 8, 2001 (gmt 0)

:) Our prices are listed on the thumbnail and 'more info' page... right next to the order button. Forgot to mention that, because it seems SO DARNED OBVIOUS! You wouldn't buy something in a department store if you had to wait 'till the checkout line to find out the price, would you? I wouldn't... and I won't do the same online either.


 11:06 pm on Mar 9, 2001 (gmt 0)

One extra element that I've had a LOT of success with is the viral marketing "Tell a friend about this page" link. It takes very little space, and increases sales for many kinds of businesses.


 7:06 am on Mar 10, 2001 (gmt 0)

Tedster, we started trying Tell a friends scripts when I read your posting about it a couple of months ago. We changed to the name to "Tell an associate" as we are more of a business prof site.

Good news is we are very pleased with the results.

We didnt think it would work but now it is getting quite a lot of use.

Thanks a lot Tedster.

At the moment we are using the Big Nose Bird script..ported to NT well. and gives us a log file of what pages have been sent and who sent them etc..

Made us feel better that real people were reading our articles and not just robots!

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