Once found only at the bottom of a sales funnel, the ecommerce product detail page evolves to cover the entire buyer journey, from awareness to sale.
Consider a free, basic topic on Shopify called Simple. The product pages are sales-oriented and have eight sections:
- Product name,
- Product options,
- Two call-to-action buttons,
- Social media buttons,
- Product recommendations.
These sections are fundamental to conversions, with the exception of the social media buttons and product recommendations. The rest – product name, price, description, pictures and add to cart buttons – are more or less important to completing the promotion.
Interestingly, this list of product content sections is similar to a typical Amazon product detail page years ago. A screenshot from the internet archive shows that the 2007 George Forman Grill with Bun Warmer product page contained the basics – name, price, description, image and button to add to cart – plus reviews, tags and a customer discussion area.
The page was aimed at the bottom of the funnel – the end of the buyer’s journey.
Funnel and travel
Sales funnels and buyers journeys are intended to describe how prospects become customers. These models help us think about the emotional, psychological, and physical steps required.
Historically, such models have focused on the action steps. As an example, consider the popular AIDAR model, a hierarchical funnel with five levels:
A product detail page with only the basic information described above fits best in the lower area of the model in the “Action” or “Storage” step.
The product detail pages in 2021 have evolved from completing the sale to serving the entire trip – a page with a full funnel.
Take the product detail page on Amazon for the Wow Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo from July 22nd, 2021. On marketplaces like Amazon, product pages have to attract attention when searching, arouse interest and develop desire so that a shopper can buy.
The product name is long.
“WOW Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo – Reduces dandruff, frizz, split ends, against hair loss – Cleanse the scalp and increase shine, shine – Parabens, sulfate-free – All hair types, adults and children – 500 ml”
This title is likely not targeting the bottom of the funnel, but rather the top. WOW seems to optimize it for searching on Amazon.
Additionally, the “About This Article” section adds 200 more words that explain what the shampoo does. The description can be directed to the middle of the funnel to arouse desire for the product.
And the list goes on. The page contains three product videos and six product-related photos. There is a 1,097 word product description (longer than most practical e-commerce articles), two diagrams, two bulleted lists, and 20 other photos. And there are sections for specifications, ingredients, usage, ratings, and user videos.
Several factors are likely to be responsible for the differences on the Amazon product detail pages of the George Forman grill in 2007 versus the WOW shampoo in 2021.
Contest. Global retail e-commerce is booming, and revenue nearly tripled in the six years from 2014 to 2020, when it hit $ 4.28 trillion, according to Statista. And B2B e-commerce is even bigger. Global B2B e-commerce sales reached more than $ 6.6 trillion in 2020, according to Grand View Research.
Thus, e-commerce is competitive. Product information can be an advantage.
In a discussion about search engine optimization and link building, James Wirth, Senior Director of Strategy and Growth Marketing at Citation Labs, an agency, pointed out that his company is building links to e-commerce product pages. This process requires linked content.
Nowhere is the competition in e-commerce as intense as at Amazon, where a product page is probably the first stop, rather than the culmination of a buyer’s journey. This page is the only way a brand or retailer has to get attention, generate interest, and develop desire.
Covid19. The pandemic intensified e-commerce competition, forcing more businesses to compete online, and influencing buyer behavior.
In December 2020, Salsify, a manufacturer of product information management software, surveyed 1,800 US buyers. Around 40% of respondents had relied on e-commerce in some form since the beginning of the pandemic. Around 24% only bought online. And another 37% restricted stationary shopping to trustworthy shops.
Buyers who otherwise might have gone to a local store were chasing digital aisles. These buyers wanted product information, including top-of-funnel content.
Culture. Ultimately, the shopping culture is changing.
Buyers aren’t just interested in price. They want to know whether a product is not only good quality, but also good for the world. Consumers are increasingly interested in sustainability, social responsibility and the wellbeing of workers.
This could be why buyers prefer a minority-owned company, or why WOW’s shampoo description says the products are vegan and cruelty free. All of this has to be communicated. Product pages might be the right place for this.