Commentary

Information Quality Is Key To Online Sales

According to the latest Shotfarm Product Information Report, quality and completeness of product presentation in online retail has a quantifiable and direct impact on product sales. But often, data is inaccurate, inconsistent, incomplete, and even outdated, leading to increased returns, serious brand erosion, and lost sales, all of which have significant financial ramifications for both retailers and manufacturers says the report.

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The 2015/2016 Report shows that consumers place a significant value on high-quality product content, regardless of product type, price, or purchasing channel. Retail trading partners can maximize sales, minimize returns, optimize speed to market, and enhance their brands by improving the quality of product information they provide to digital shoppers, says the report.

 Key Findings

  • Product information quality is an important factor in the success of online sales. 78% of consumers say the quality of product content is very important when making purchase decisions.
  • 87% of consumers say they would be unlikely to consider a retailer again if they provided incorrect information for a purchased product.
  • One in four consumers say they have abandoned a purchase because of poor product information.
  • 57% of respondents rank consumer electronics as the industry offering the best and most complete product information.

Product information plays a key role in online sales, according to the Report. 95% of those surveyed say product information is important when making a purchase decision, with nearly four in five indicating that it is very important.

The Importance of Product Information in Online Purchasing Decision

 

Importance

Respondents

Very important

78%

Important

17%

Slightly important

3%

Not at all important

2%

Source: Shotfarm, November 2015

 

In particular, product descriptions and images are critical, with the vast majority of consumers saying they are important (30%) or very important (63%). While product reviews are also important in the sales process, only 39% of consumers say they are very important, highlighting the value of information that comes directly from the seller or manufacturer.

Product Information Quality and Completeness Impacts Product Sales Conversion Rate…

With only Item number and price:

   - 80% conversion

Adding Low Res image & product specs:

   Base (nominal conversion)

Including product description,High Res & 360° image video:

   +35% (conversin increase over Base)

Overall the type of product information that matters most to consumers varies, as does the path shoppers take in finding and consuming product content. In the end, products are purchased from retailers and brands whose product information makes shoppers feel confident in doing so.

42% of consumers have returned an online purchase in the past year specifically because of poor product content, says the report. The clothing and apparel category sees the most returns as one in four consumers has returned an item due to inaccurate product information. The costs associated with each return can be significant.

Returned Online Purchases

 

% of Respondents

ItemsReturned

25%

Clothing and apparel 

7%

Household goods

4%

Tools and home improvement

9%

Consumer electronics

4%

Consumer packaged goods

3%

Sporting goods

3%

Luxury goods

3%

Pet supplies

2%

Food and groceries

3%

Other

Source: The 2015/2016 Shotfarm Product Information Report

 

The most significant impact to manufacturers and retailers of poor product content is arguably the resulting brand erosion. According to the survey, nothing directly impacts the experience of the individual customer like a product that doesn’t meet expectations.

87% of consumers say they would be unlikely or very unlikely to make a repeat purchase with a retailer that provided inaccurate product information, leaving just 13% who would likely shop with that same company again.

Whether the customer’s negative perception of a retailer or brand is temporary or permanent, it is always costly, says the report. In many instances, say consumers, a less than optimal retail experience can be traced to poor quality, inaccurate, or incomplete product information.

90% of online shoppers report leaving a purchase behind at one time or another. And while consumers list cost and delivery time as the top two reasons for not completing a purchase, poor product descriptions and low-quality images follow close behind, with more than 25% citing them as reasons for abandoning carts. In addition, a lack of quality content has a greater impact on whether a sale is made than a lack of product reviews.

Why Consumers Have Abandoned Shopping Carts

% of Respondents

Reason For Abandonment

61%

Cost

33%

Delivery time

30%

Poor product description

26%

Poor-quality images/too few images

25%

Lack of overall trust of the seller (brand or retailer)

25%

Lack of reviews

15%

Lack of overall trust of the seller (third-party website)

Source: The 2015/2016 Shotfarm Product Information Report

Consumers have different content expectations depending on the type of product being considered.

Importance of Product Content by Industry

Product Category

% Of Consumers Who Have Shopped In This Category Online

Product Content Quality Rank

% Of Returns In This Category Due To Poor Content

Household goods

57%

7

7%

Clothing & apparel

73%

10

26%

Luxury goods

18%

4

3%

Food/groceries

23%

9

2%

Consumer packaged goods

22%

8

4%

Consumer electronics

49%

1

9%

Sporting goods

27%

2

3%

Tools & home improvement

28%

3

4%

Office supplies

32%

5

4%

Pet supplies

29%

6

3%

Source: The 2015/2016 Shotfarm Product Information Report

In no industry is the desire for quality product information greater than in consumer electronics. Not only did respondents rank consumer electronics as the category where product information is most important, but they also ranked the quality of product content as the highest of any industry. Clothing and apparel, on the other hand, ranked last in the quality of information provided, which is especially noteworthy since these products are the items consumers say they purchase online most often, observes the report.

In addition to differences in content from industry to industry, consumers also see disparities in the quality, accuracy, and completeness of product information across retail channels. More than three in four consumers say they have noticed inconsistent information for the same product across channels. 87% of these consumers indicate that such discrepancies, at a minimum, delayed their purchase. In some cases, it kept them from buying a product altogether.

Channels Offering the Most Complete Product Content, (According to Consumers)

% of Respondents

Channel

47%

Manufacturer’s website

17%

Third-party retailer’s website

11%

Retailer’s website

10%

In-store product box

8%

In-store sales person

3%

Marketing, ads and commercials

5%

Other

Source: The 2015/2016 Shotfarm Product Information Report

 

Channels Offering the Most Accurate Product Content, (According to Consumers)

% of Respondents

Channel

51%

Manufacturer’s website

17%

Third-party retailer’s website

9%

In-store product box

9%

Retailer’s website

7%

In-store sales person

3%

Marketing, ads and commercials

5%

Other

Source: The 2015/2016 Shotfarm Product Information Report

With gross sales reaching $600 billion, the grocery industry is by far the largest retail sector in the country. But only 23% of consumers currently shops for groceries online, and the industry ranks next to last for quality of digital content. Additionally, nearly 40% of consumers say they are uncomfortable shopping online for groceries, citing product content availability or a lack of trust in the content provided.

Consumer Barriers to Online Grocery Shopping

Respondents

Barrier

34%

Delivery

29%

Lack of trust for product information

20%

Price difference

17%

Lack of product information

27%

Other

Source: The 2015/2016 Shotfarm Product Information Report

In summarizing, the report notes that the quality of product data impacts all facets of the online retail business. In the eyes of the digital consumer, a product is only as good as the information associated with it. If that information is incomplete in any way, purchases are delayed, products are returned, and brand equity is lost.

For additional information about the Shotfarm report, please visit here.

 

 

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