How CPG brands can optimize and measure their product detail pages online

The product detail page is a huge driver of brand success on the digital shelf. With retailers constantly evolving their eCommerce sites, read what’s key to protect your brand equity and online sales.

Presented by: 
William Wrightstone2022

Ancient pack shots pulled from old retailer libraries. Product titles riddled with spelling errors. Incorrect allergen information. Unapproved product features and benefits.

For something as seemingly straightforward as a product detail page, things can go wrong in a surprising number of ways.

With retailers constantly evolving their eCommerce sites to improve the customer experience, CPGs have their hands full keeping content up to date. As configurations change, it’s all too easy for elements of a product detail page to go missing, stop working, or become obsolete.

This can create serious brand safety problems and lead to lost sales.

The product detail page (PDP) is a brand’s calling card online. As such, it’s a huge driver of brand success on the digital shelf: It helps shoppers identify and select the right products, it drives searchability, and – crucially – it builds consumer trust.

Although online grocery sales have increased dramatically in recent years, many consumers remain skeptical of eCommerce. Because online buying feels less tangible than brick-and-mortar retail, shoppers are highly sensitive to content quality. If they don’t see a certain amount of content (for example, product descriptions or features) or if the content is of a low quality, they may become distrustful of a product and choose not to buy it.

A well-constructed product detail page is therefore essential. Pages that provide clear, relevant, and descriptive information can help brands overcome the skepticism of online buyers, improve visibility in search results, and ultimately grow sales.

How to optimize a product detail page for the digital shelf

The most critical elements of a product detail page for the digital shelf are product image, product title, and product description. They have a big impact on shopper choices and search rankings but are low impact in terms of time and cost to brand teams, so they make for easy wins.

Different retailers have different requirements for images, titles, and descriptions, but the general principles are as follows:

The product image should be a clear, high-resolution pack shot that accurately represents the physical product. If the retailer supports mobile rendering, brands should also supply a mobile-ready hero image. This is a version of the pack shot that has been optimized (and sometimes simplified) to help shoppers identify the correct products, variants, and sizes when buying on small screens.

The product title should, at a minimum, contain the brand, the sub-brand (if applicable), the format, the species (if applicable), and the flavor. It must be clear, concise, and easy to read, and written in a way that makes it absolutely clear what the product is.

Along with price, the product image and product title are the first things shoppers will see when searching and browsing for a product online. Clarity and accuracy are critical – everything should be optimized to help shoppers identify the right items when scrolling through product results at speed.

Once the customer clicks through to the product detail page, the product description comes into play. Typically positioned below the product shot and title, the product description is where a brand really gets to introduce a product to the customer by providing additional, relevant information about that product.

‘Relevant’ is the operative word here. The content needs to resonate with what the consumers is looking for, and how they plan to use the product. A good product description for a pet product, for example, might feature information about specific nutritional requirements or include age-related statements, so shoppers can be confident the product is appropriate for their pet.

Product descriptions can be a few sentences long or run to a small paragraph, but brands should generally err on the side of brevity. Key product features and benefits, such as ‘low calories’ or ‘gluten-free’, are best expressed in bullet points so shoppers can quickly absorb the information.

Most retailer search algorithms will pick up on the content of product detail pages, so brands should look to weave generic search terms into product descriptions where possible.

Once they have mastered the basics of product image, title, and description, brands may also want to investigate opportunities to include rich content, such as video or syndicated reviews. This type of content can greatly enhance a product detail page, but it requires significant additional time and additional cost to develop. Retailers’ willingness and ability to support such content also varies considerably, so brands may need retailer-specific content strategies.

If in doubt, the best policy is to focus on optimizing the fundamentals.

How to measure the efficacy of a product detail page on the digital shelf

The ultimate metric is, of course, sales. Product detail pages are doing their job if they help brands sell more products. As a lead metric, however, CPGs should measure whether the content of their product detail pages is exactly as it should be.

This is where digital shelf analytics come in. By working with a provider like e.fundamentals, CPGs can easily measure the accuracy and completeness of every single one of their product detail pages across retailers. Digital shelf analytics can tell brands, at a glance, if their content is correct, if anything is missing from their product detail pages, and if the content is relevant.

To do this, the digital shelf analytics tool essentially compares what it finds on a product detail page with the brand’s source of truth, for example a product information management system (PIM). In the case of product images, this means comparing the pack shot pixel by pixel to ensure even minor changes to packaging and branding are picked up.

The level of compliance is expressed as a percentage, and CPGs can set compliance thresholds to trigger actions and reviews. In e.fundamentals’ case, we also mark compliance levels green, amber, and red to make it as easy as possible for brand teams to see which product detail pages need their attention (our partners do this using the Fix the Basics and Sell the Benefits features)

Of course, all this relies on having a source of truth in the first place. To measure product detail pages efficiently and at scale, brand owners ideally have a single, central repository for their product information. More and more CPGs are adopting product information management (PIM) systems for precisely this reason, but far too many still work with a jumble of Excel documents and image references. Although it is possible to monitor compliance with these, the process is manual and much less efficient than using a PIM that integrates with a digital shelf analytics provider. (At e.fundamentals, we’re integrated with Salsify. See also our joint eBook on The Ultimate Guide to Content Management on the Digital Shelf)

Given the importance of product detail pages in driving success on the digital shelf, CPG brands should embrace technology solutions that make optimization and compliance monitoring as easy and painless as possible.

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