Friday, November 16, 2007

Sub Category and Product Detail Pages of Six Functional Parts

Online stores use the following six basic component webpages in their store design:

Sub-category Pages—"The Shelf"

Because most online stores carry hundreds or thousands of products, it is important to break up the information into manageable chunks. Products are displayed on a shelf—whether it is physical shelving in a brick-and-mortar store, a catalog page, a TV infomercial, or an e-commerce website product page. The product shelf is any web page on which a product is merchandised and sold. It can be a category page featuring many products, or it can be a specific product page with a single product.Internet 2010

In this example, there are many varieties of all-in-one printers. The subcategory page helps to narrow down the offering. A thorough understanding of customer needs is necessary to structure these pages. Depending on product complexities, informational content can provide customers with "why to buy" information that helps them select the right product to meet their needs. Emerging online tools—such as the shopping wizard—can help narrow choices.

Product Detail Pages—"The Package or SKU"

Because customers can't pick up virtual merchandise and read labels, the product detail page represents the product or behaves like the product package. It must clearly communicate what the product is and what the customer will receive as a result of its purchase. Anytime a page offers a product for sale, it must provide the following information for each of the products offered:

  • What it is—the description, picture, uses
  • Relevant and complete compatibility, sizing, color, or other information
  • What's contained in the package—what the customer will receive
  • Other items needed for immediate operation (batteries, cables, assembly, UL specifications)
  • Spare or complementary items (extra batteries, film, or a carrying case)
  • "Care and feeding" of the product (special polish, cleaning instructions)
  • The price and any hidden charges (extra shipping or handling)
  • The manufacturer's or designer's name
  • Sample content (for example, sample book pages)

The customer must know clearly what the product is and what it looks like. And for customers who know exactly what they are looking for, accurate descriptions and specific product numbers or models must be included so they may easily recognize the correct product. Our research across more than 25 major elcommerce websites identified incomplete or inadequate information. In many cases, the web stores did not provide complete compatibility information.

Shoppers will not purchase from a site that cannot confirm their choice or be specific about what the product is that they are purchasing.

Product detail pages let customers know what they're getting and what else they may need or want. In this example, product features—the "speeds and feeds"—are listed. This includes products they may need to purchase in order to use the product. It also features other products the customer may want. Good clothing stores recommend coordinated accessories to give customers ideas to complete ensembles for a variety of social occasions.

The product detail page also needs to let people know how to buy the product. As simple as that sounds, customers who participated in website evaluation research had difficulty adding a product to the shopping cart. This function varies from website to website. Button labels can also vary. Some say "add to cart," "buy," or "add." The buttons also have different locations on these sites. Some are next to the products and some are far enough away to disassociate them from the product.

Also, some websites force customers to go to the shopping cart or checkout page every time they add an item to the shopping cart. This then forces them to start over or go back and forth if they are shopping for multiple items. It adds an unnecessary extra step.

Make it easy for the customer to know what they're getting and how to get it. Customers will leave tedious websites.

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