eCommerce Product Descriptions – Sometimes You’re Better Off Without Them
It’s okay to feel excited when you find some actionable conclusions from your customer surveys. You almost know for sure that the moment you implement the necessary changes on your website, your website sales or conversions will increase. You give the users what they want, how can it possibly go wrong?
Our customer, FreestyleXtreme, also implemented their customers’ suggestion on their site. Except that their conversions had a twist in store for them.
About the Company
FreestyleXtreme is a UK-based eCommerce retailer that offers motorcross lifestyle clothing online for riders and action sports enthusiasts. They ship almost all over the world and their website is available in 17 different languages.
FreestyleXtreme conducted a customer survey to understand the pain points of their target market. In the survey, one of the most requested additions to the website was more product information.
The team at FreestyleXtreme read several case studies where including product description improved conversion rate. This convinced them even more about their decision to populate their website with product descriptions.
A lot of thought and effort was put into writing descriptions. The team made sure that instead of just listing product specifics, they explained the benefits of each product feature in the simplest manner possible.
Finally, they did it. The product descriptions were added to the website.
Out of curiosity, the team now decided to run an exploratory split URL test. The test hypothesis was whether detailed product descriptions increase conversions.
This is the Control page on which the test was conducted:
As you can see in the above image, the product description was added at the top of the page.
The Variation which was tested against this page was the same product page that was the original page on the site (before the product descriptions were added). You can see the Variation page below:
More than 7000 visitors were tested for each version. The Variation with no product description beat the Control by 31.38% with 96% confidence level. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a win for our customer, FreestyleXtreme, as they had already implemented product descriptions on many pages of their website.
Here’s the comparison image that summarizes the entire case study for you:
Click to View the Larger Version
The reason why the page without the product descriptions won is probably because of the poor layout of the Control page. The product descriptions were added at the top of the page, which pushed the product images and call to action button below the fold.
Images play an important role in increasing conversions. People prefer to see what they will be getting. Only if they are pleased with the product image, will they invest any time to read about product specifics or descriptions.
An eCommerce site can very well survive without the product descriptions but not without the images. So, your visual hierarchy should always be planned in a way that it naturally draws visitors’ attention to images as one of the primary elements on the page.
It is cases like these why it is suggested that you must always run the test first, before you make any change permanent on your site. What is considered as a “best practice”, might not work for you. You never know.
Thankfully, FreestyleXtreme hasn’t given up and now plans to run a follow-up test soon with a more organized page layout. Because addition of product descriptions was requested by their customers, this seems like just an error in execution of the test idea.
Hopefully, the follow-up test that will again test the page with product descriptions will turn out to be the real win for FreestyleXtreme.