The product experience encompasses all aspects of the product itself: what it does, detailed product specifications, images, video, sizing and color options, complementary product recommendations, and customer-provided content like ratings, reviews, and images of the product in use.
Why is your product experience so essential?
As more and more retail purchases are made online rather than in brick-and-mortar stores, customers are expecting more from the e-commerce product experience than just the basic product specifications. They want a story. They want to know the product’s background so they can decide whether it fits their needs and wants. They want an immersive product experience.
If you’re a B2B retailer, don’t think these expectations don’t apply to you as well. Your customers want information about your product’s materials, manufacturing, and sourcing, as well as how those factors contribute to cost efficiency.
Whether you’re selling to consumers or other businesses, your online product experience is essentially filling the role that a knowledgeable, helpful sales associate or customer service rep would fill in a brick-and-mortar store. It will often be a key factor in whether a customer purchases your product or navigates away from it.
Who is rocking at product experience?
The home furnishings retailer, Joybird, the women’s intimates retailer, ThirdLove, and the mattress manufacturer, Casper, are three examples of brands that are breaking the mold with the experience that accompanies their products.
As an online-only brand, Joybird understands that home furnishings shoppers want to know as much as possible about the pieces they are considering, including how they will fit and look in their homes. With extensive pages dedicated to each product, Joybird provides customers with numerous photos taken from every angle and in every available color, detailed specifications and care instructions, photos and videos of the product being made, straightforward customization options, well-lit and staged customer photos, reviews, and the option to request a free swatch kit.
ThirdLove has taken it upon itself to demystify the brassiere-buying process and help women find bras that fit correctly. Backed by its trademarked half-cup sizing, ThirdLove is establishing itself as a go-to resource for women to educate themselves on topics such as shape, problems with fit, and lingerie care. The company’s website also features a FitFinder tool to that takes visitors through several rounds of questions to determine their correct size, as well as articles like “3 Bra Mistakes You Might Be Making” and “10 Bra Tips We Wish Mom Told Us.” With this emphasis on finding the correct fit continuing in each product page, ThirdLove is showing customers that it takes their comfort seriously.
Mattresses have traditionally been viewed as a product that you have to test out in person, but that isn’t stopping Casper from providing a dynamic, informative web experience for its shoppers. Each product page includes detailed information, photos, videos, and animated graphics that illustrate the considerable research and engineering that went into developing the product, and even the packaging. Casper also provides a 100-night trial period with each product, guaranteeing satisfaction or a full refund.
What can you do about it?
Start by taking a good hard look at your product content. Are you telling your product’s story in a way that resonates with your customers? Does the content answer their questions and give them an immersive product experience prior to purchase?
Next, examine the social proof surrounding your products. Whether they realize it or not, consumers are often heavily influenced by the opinions of others, so the ratings and reviews on both your site and third-party sites can go a long way in setting their expectations, giving them a comparison party to weigh themselves against, reinforcing your messaging, and substantiating your claims. It’s not just about whether or not you have ratings and reviews. You also have to understand where they come from, how recent they are, and whether they tend to lean one way or another to ensure that you are providing potential buyers with product feedback they can trust.
Also, don’t underestimate the value of sophisticated, personalized product education and recommendations. Take advantage of the purchase history data you have to identify similar customers and provide useful recommendations. You are the foremost expert on your product portfolio. By sharing what you know about your industry, your products, and your customers’ buying journey, you can help your customers learn how to choose the products that are right for them.
Up next in product trends…
The latest headline-making technologies are also creating exciting opportunities for retailers. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are making it possible for retailers to uncover new insights and help customers find the exact products they want faster. Virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and technology for capturing 3D imagery are also becoming more accessible and mainstream – Facebook now supports 3D posts, for example. Through these visual technologies, retailers can provide more immersive and detailed product imagery and help customers see exactly what they’re getting.
If you think your brand and customers could benefit from any of these technologies, make sure to work with a partner or agency that understands their intricacies and best practices for implementing them strategically.
To learn more about the product experiences your customers are looking for, download our free guide, The 5 Essential Retail Experiences.
Jim Hertzfeld is Principal and Chief Strategist for Perficient Digital, and works with clients to make their customers and shareholders happy through insanely great digital experiences.