7 Ways to Optimize Your Ecommerce Store

You have the best website with a truckload of items for sale and you feel like it is all rainbows in the sky. However, there is only one small (but major) problem; no one is hitting the button or link that will connect them to your ecommerce store. The question on the lips of many ecommerce stores is one that to do with site visibility. “How do I get found by my customers or target market?” is a question that borders on-site optimization.

The more visible you are to search engines, the more visible you will be to your target market. The goal of ecommerce is to take advantage of the fact that you can sell your products literally anywhere and at any time and increase your sales beyond your national borders. This can be achieved when you maintain a top position on the results page of search engines, especially major ones.

The best investment you can make to your ecommerce store is investing in its Search Engine Optimization (SEO) because of the long-term benefits that you are sure to reap from the investment. In other words, its benefit outweighs the cost. Firms who have failed to utilize optimization opportunities have witnessed a slow and sure decline in sales and customer conversion rates.

While it may be seen as a waste of time by some merchants, it really is not when it comes to enhancing your search visibility. I feel it is necessary to point out that search engine optimization is not just about bringing increased traffic but encompasses much more benefits which will be discussed subsequently in the course of this article.

What is it about SEO?

You should probably ignore this post if you have no intention of taking your ecommerce store to the next level. A bit harsh, but true! With SEO, you give your store a fighting chance for the conversion of mere web surfers to customers (and potential repeat customers).

Optimizing your online store is not about building websites that are search engine friendly but making your site a place where people will naturally come to because they feel you can attend to their needs and positioning your site in the paths your customers take.

Unlike paid search adverts, SEO isn’t paid for. This is because top search engines like Google are on the lookout for pages that contain quality and relevant information about the queries by a surfer. The uniqueness of your content is also another factor that is put into consideration. The loading speed of your site and its user-friendliness is also considered. It is also about the level of engagement of persons when they visit your site. All these affect ratings at the top of search engine results.

The first step to optimization is finding out what your customers are searching for and using this as a strategy to get found by organic traffic and search engines. This strategy involves research into the keywords that can drive visibility and search engine rankings.

Benefits of store optimization

I have given you an insight into the benefits that you stand to gain as an ecommerce store owner with regards search optimization. The goal of your site optimization can increase the page relevance so that it appears at the top results of search engine pages.

Through optimization, you increase your relevance to your target market, thus increasing the traffic to your site. This is because you will be in a position to fulfill the information needs of your customers with targeted messages.

It increases awareness of your site because search engines work every minute and are not restricted by location. There is a belief by customers and surfers that the first results produced by their search query are trustworthy since they are at the top. Hence, a greater brand value is achieved from the resultant effects of site optimization.

Unlike your regular advertisements, the results are much prominent and long-lasting. However, maintenance is required to keep your site consistent in its top ranking.

Site optimization can give a brand competitive advantage. Imagine maintaining the top ranking of your site! The benefits abound and can provide a competitive advantage. I bet you probably do not go beyond the first five pages while surfing the web in search for products and services. All these and many more are the benefits SEO can offer and why it is important to ensure that your page gets top ranking which will generate higher clicks and increase traffic to your site.

Tip 1: Originality, quality, and personalization of content is very important

Think of duplicity as the sworn enemy of search engines that attracts penalties that are detrimental to the success of ecommerce stores. There is need to assess the content that is present on your site.

You may argue that most product descriptions, for example, are quite similar and can lead to the duplicity of content produced. To that, I will say: be more creative in your descriptions and avoid generic terms which many sites are prone to using. Skip the norm and write compelling product descriptions that will command interest. Your content can create a sense of urgency to drive purchase action.

Your content should communicate the unique solution you are offering to your customers. Of course, in order to do this, there is need to determine the problem that your offer will solve in the life of your customers.

Much more than originality, the overall quality of your content is very important. Not only do top search engines like Google recognize quality content because it is a crowd-pleaser. Everyone will naturally want to read a quality content that can be easily understood.

Your content should be free of grammatical errors and misspellings as this can add to the overall quality of your work. Google, for instance, takes note of site without errors and you will do well to ensure that yours is free of them.

Tip 2: Increase the load speed of your website

Argggghh!! It is always frustrating when you finally find the site that houses the perfect solution you are looking for and it takes time to access the website. A recent survey according to Crazy Egg, a 1% delay can result in 7% fewer conversions, 11% fewer page views and 16% reduced customer satisfaction. All these resultant effects were as a result of a delay of 1% which seems so small but has the capabilities to reduce sales drastically.

Gone are the days where visitors will be patient to wait while sipping juice for your site to load; no one is that patient these days. I agree it can be quite different for brands with established presence and image but either way, shoppers will readily beat the path to a store that has a site with a faster response time.

I guess it is safe to say that this is one of the reasons why customers readily opt for ecommerce sites in a bid to enjoy the transactional speed that brick and mortar stores do not offer. Furthermore, when your site is easy to navigate, it goes a long way in drawing people to the site, leading to eventual purchase. You may think it does not matter but consumers’ rate site usability and functionality as one of the important aspects that they watch out for.

The essence of SEO is to increase the likelihood that people will visit your site and delays in load time defeats this purpose. Google takes the speed of your site into consideration in page ranking and can influence how easily customers are able to find you.

Your site speed can be improved by compressing large pages so that they can consume lesser bandwidth in their loading and take up less space. Browser caching can also be used to store elements that are necessary to a viewer on their hard drive, thus leading to faster load time at the visitor’s return. A review of your site’s hosting plan should be done as it can add to delay in the load time of your site.

Tip 3: Invest in keyword research

You need to understand the relevance of keywords in the optimization goal of your ecommerce store. The right keywords are words that are used regularly by people when conducting searches on the net. So think of SEO keywords in the light of key phrases and words in your product content that makes it possible for people to find your website through search engines.

In order to speak the same language that your customers are speaking, there is need to invest in keyword optimization which is a major element of SEO and can increase your store’s visibility.

Thus, a list of keywords has to be compiled through research on what your customers use in their search entries. There is no structured process to arriving at the perfect keyword; it is majorly trial and error with a move to discovering new trends and patterns every day. This is why it is not a one-time effort but should be an evolving part of your operations.

On the issue of continuity, most stores are quick to fall into the pit of doing SEO keyword research once, forgetting that it requires regular updates and expansion. Another mistake is targeting keywords that are popular and highly competitive for you to handle. This will result in unnecessary difficulty in ranking high in result pages as a result of increased competition for that same spot.

Make your SEO keywords work for your and get the desired results through proper keyword grouping and organization. To make it work for you, there is need to explore various ways in which customers structure languages in their search on an idea or topic. This will help you drive not just traffic but the right traffic to your site; the kind with the power to convert.

Tip 4: Product reviews should be included

Often ignored, product reviews are another method to optimize your store’s search and increase conversion rates. One thing is certain; reviews are a sure way to increase customer trust which in turn increases conversion. Customers are more prone to believe peers than brands.

Reviews and ratings have become more prominent in recent times and a necessary resource to consult in our daily shopping decisions. According to a research by Bigcommerce.com, more than 80% of consumers consult reviews when making a purchase decision and the inclusion of these reviews to your site can increase sales by 18%.

Go all out on your product reviews; place them front and center, both those tied to specific products and product categories. Include links that can take customers directly to a page on testimonials on your home page. Publish both good and bad reviews, it makes you more real. Appreciate those who make out time to give the reviews, no matter how negative they are.

The social aspect of your brand should not be relegated to the background because reviews are social proofs that can build trust. Great store sites have adopted the practice of displaying testimonials from past buyers as evidence that your site is not just a generic one; taking it a notch further by including employee preferences to humanize their products.

Tip 5: Remember, everything you do should always about your customers

This is a tip that summarizes the entirety of why your business is in existence. You have to make customer-centric decisions in order to be ahead of the competition and be rewarded with loyal customers.

There is need to position the content of your site to communicate a “you matter” to shoppers of your product. Is your content tailored to the needs of your visitor? Your brand should be relatable and show customers how your product is the best solution to the problems they have. The reason behind every shopper’s purchase is the answer to the question of “what is in it for me?”

The content of your site or online store must be tailored towards the person shopping, however, the end-user of the product must be considered in drafting a copy. You have to consider a possibility that the person shopping is different from the person using the products and services. Thus, there is a need for objective observation of your site just as a customer would if you want to interpret your customers’ view of your ecommerce store.

Customer-centricity should not just be sung but should be backed up with actions. Today’s customers are looking for fast, relevant and seamless experiences and you need to deliver according to their needs. Competition is on the increase and there is need to provide a pain-free online experience that surpasses their expectations if you want to stay ahead of the competition.

Tip 6:  Your site presentation matters

I know that the idea of perfection is far-fetched, but it shouldn’t stop stores from trying. You can have the best products available on planet earth but if it is not presentable and inviting to the eye, customers will do a turn-around immediately they arrive at the waiting arms of another competitor.

One sure trick is to find a balance between too much and too little happening on your page. Quality should be transparent on your site. I bet you that if your store is packed full of images of low quality, it will be displeasing to the eye and will not encourage a further stay.

The presentation does not focus on quality images alone but also product descriptions. Unnecessary long-winded product descriptions that beat around the bush are not appealing and will negatively affect your site presentation. Instead, convey only the information that customers will need to make a purchase decision in the most appealing way possible. Your message should be as clear as possible.

Your web page should not do everything but there should be a divided layout where specific functions are fulfilled. Fonts are also to be considered. You don’t want to be using multiple typefaces even when it is a different topic. You don’t want the font to be too large that it becomes disjointed or too small that it is barely readable.

Presentation covers structure, layout and orderly arrangement of information. Of course, it will be quite a struggle to achieve this but the knowledge of “what would I want to see if I were a customer?” will help you know what to include and what not to.

Tip 7: Image optimization does matter

Uploading quality, high definition images should be your mantra. Images of high quality can make your page stand out. Brands are outdoing themselves and incorporating shots of 360 degrees so that their pages can stand out. More importantly, customers love them!

Image optimization has been tested and tried and found to increase conversion and attract more attention to your site. More so, they have been found to reduce the rate of product returns since they capture parts of the product in a more detailed way.

You cannot run an online store successfully without proper mastery of image optimization. Image optimization encompasses all the processes you undertake in order to reduce your image size while not compromising on the quality and increasing your page speed; thus, helping it rank higher in search engine results.

All images used must be properly labeled for easy identification. Image SEO comes to mind here – the use of relevant keywords on your images to rank your webpage higher. Descriptive and creative file names are necessary for image optimization to work. Website analytics can be used to know the keywords customers use in association with your product.

It is necessary to select the dimensions and angles of your product image very carefully. The image used should capture shots from the interior and the rear. However, in doing all these, the file size of your image should not increase the delay in loading your site. The importance of this is heightened by the discovery Amazon made. They would have a loss of $1.6billion a year if their pages were slow by just a second. Wow!!

Conclusion

Optimizing your store ensures that each page has a meta-description with the right keywords that will enable a site rank higher in search engines. Keyword optimization can be a tool that a firm can use as its weapon to maintain a competitive advantage.

Content is king and should be utilized in order to optimize your ecommerce store. This means that the content you produce should be useful, informative, credible, engaging; all in a bid to give users a memorable experience and not just for the sole reason of ranking high on search engines.

It should be noted that Search Engine Optimization should not be used in isolation, but other visibility platforms like AdWords, Pay Per Click, among others can be added for better results. Finally, there is a need for you to always experiment until you find the perfect combination that works best for your store optimization needs.

How to Identify New Sales Channels in a Digital World

As an ecommerce business owner, you may be wondering why identifying new digital channels is even a topic for discussion. It should be simple that ecommerce business owners use the Internet. While you may have a point, your online sales channels directly affect your sales results. Use the wrong sales channels and you are likely to be less profitable.

A sales channel can be any of the people, organizations, or activities necessary to transfer ownership of something from production to consumption. It all boils down to the sales channels you select which will impact the strategies you carve for your sales channels. A sales channel is basically any path between the business and its customers.

Before the advent of the Internet, selling was pretty much the usual direct selling to customers or indirect selling through the use of middlemen in the distribution. You will agree that it was pretty simple and clear, right? However, all that has changed since the advent of the Internet.

The introduction and popularity of ecommerce produced multiple channels to ease the buying process in ways we never thought possible. In today’s competitive marketplace and with people’s increasing demand for convenience in their shopping and customer experience, a brand cannot afford to make the mistake of relying on a single channel.

Identifying Your Sales Strategy

Irrespective of the sales channels you decide to add to your existing promotion and distribution channels, they all offer different ways a brand can connect with their customers. As a brand, you can use the knowledge you have and the information in your database about your customers to select the channels that will best connect with them.

Naturally, customers will tend to lean towards marketplaces that fit their needs well at the moment. This is why it is important to know which channels will ensure your brand is represented in whatever channel used.

You need to decide directly, through your online store, or indirectly. The firm itself manages the direct distribution channel. By indirect sales channels, we talk about the use of third channels for the distribution of goods and services i.e. the indirect sales strategy relies on intermediaries for its distribution. These channels represent an avenue for wider reach for a business that decides to explore them in their sales strategies.

A benefit of a direct sales strategy is the direct communication between a business and its customers, and the seller has an influence on their customers and the selling process. On the other hand, indirect sales strategy affords a firm the opportunity to expand beyond its geographical location without the associated costs of sales representatives.

Profitability flows from understanding each of these sales strategies fully and implementing them well. However, it is better there is a fusion of the two channels to ensure more reach and greater conversion.

Channel Decisions Depend upon Your Customers

Never forget the fact that customers are the reason why your business is in existence. It is all for their ultimate satisfaction and delight. Your sales channels should give customers the best brand experience and make it convenient for them to receive their orders.

Every business needs to build detailed customer profiles at every stage of their buying journey.

You should also know why your customers are doing business with you, their online and offline habits, and their psychographics.

If you want to sell more and build lasting relationships with your customers, you must study and understand your customers; there really is no two ways about it because the customers are in the driver’s side. In the words of Peter Drucker, “the aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

In business-to-business sales, statistics show that customers are more educated than before and make 67% of their final sales decision before contacting the salesperson. This calls for more adaptation and flexibility and especially the realization that customers do their homework, too.

Customers have probably come across your products or product information. This is the impact of the digital world where any information can be gotten online. Be flexible with your sales schedule and programs and ensure it is customer-centric.

More Tips for Selecting New Sales Channels

Before I give some channels you can explore to increase your conversions, we will discuss further tips for consideration when searching for new channels to sell through.

You need to identify how your competitors sell their products. What methods are they using? What channel is best for the industry you operate in? Are there loopholes in the sales channels competitors use that you can use to your advantage?

All these questions, if answered, will give you a competitive edge over competing brands.

Examine the cost of each sales channel. Weigh each sales channel’s pros and cons against each other and rank them according to your opinion. Consider the return on investment and rate of conversion when selecting new channels to sell your products and services.

Also, evaluate distribution channels against overall company marketing strategy. Using indirect channels may not provide a seamless customer experience as the marketplace will prioritize their branding over yours, or may charge fees or commissions. However, any sales channel in line with your marketing strategy, and whose benefits outweigh cost, should work. Consider your payment processing system against what’s available via other sales channels.

Are you a luxury brand or mass-produced one? Do you sell common items or unique ones? Do you have a specific customer group or do you mass market? Your brand positioning in the market can affect the choice of a sales channel. How customers see your brand will go a long way to affect the channels they will want to use when buying from you.

Product Ads in Marketplaces

A way to push your product to the market is the use of product adverts on marketplaces like Amazon.com, eBay.com, Sears.com, Buy.com, among others. This can be a good avenue for you if you need to sell your products quickly because it boosts brand awareness and thus, increases sales.

These marketplaces sell virtually any product and sellers using this channel will have maximum exposure. A catalog of your products can be added and a brand can get access to their large database and customer flow, thereby expanding your business across countries, without making you break your marketing budget.

Furthermore, these stores are popular, credible names, like Amazon, which render authenticity to your products because customers forget they are buying from a third party and attach the popularity of the marketplace to the product they get from them.

However, there are some restrictions firms may encounter in these marketplaces. The minimum budget must be maintained by sellers when they are advertising. The marketplace fees vary by product category. In some, there are restrictions on a business owner’s ability to brand its products. The personal information of customers may not be accessible to brands advertising to establish contact in the future. Furthermore, everyone has to follow the guidelines on these marketplaces to establish trust between the parties involved.

Amazon is the most recognized name in the online merchandise sales chosen by most for the sale of electronics, books, among others. Etsy is another popular marketplace featuring vintage or handcrafted items along with a host of other digital products. eBay finds its strength in international ecommerce, with a strong presence in the international arena and an easy-to-use interface. It is popular for its auction style.

In the end, promoting products differs from marketplace to marketplace. Hence, studying and evaluating sales channels before making a selection is centrally important.

Indirect Sales Channels

Blogging offers firms a way to build connections with their customers through the production of valuable and compelling product content. Your content can be informative and entertaining to sustain the interest of your customers. Through your blog, tips, tutorials, updates and so on can be made available. Custom content allows you to focus in on target groups and industry specific content should speak to the kind of businesses you want to approach.

A thought leader is any expert in an industry with the power to influence people’s feelings with regard to a product or industry. Giving accurate information to your customers can position you as a trustworthy thought leader, thus encouraging them to buy from you.

The power of content marketing indeed shines through especially when you produce engaging tailored content with consistency, because this content keeps customers on your site longer. This is the driving force behind any successful product sales: creating a deep connection with your customers. Continuously grading content allows you to identify what you need to improve, what you should delete, and where your content gaps are.

Customer Engagement Channels

These strategies span from speaking engagements, events, newsletters, contests, sweepstakes and public relations to so many others. While it may seem like a waste of resources, if done properly, it can do wonders for the reputation and image of a firm. Remember that customer engagement is all about encouraging customers to interact and share their experiences with your brand. It is highly important because customer experience is the topmost priority.

Brands can surprise their customers with personalized outreaches across digital platforms, especially when they do not expect it. An advertising campaign with freebies and discounts attached can be made based on location, social platform, and specific products.

Involve your customers in collaboration contests to entice them into engaging with your brand. Rewards can be offered for consumers’ inputs and versions of your product.

Affiliate Marketing

This channel involves two parties; one with a product to sell and the other with the ability to promote that product via their contacts and sites. Affiliates are third parties who sell goods to other businesses on their behalf in exchange for commissions on sales. The higher the percentage, the more traffic the affiliate will generate for you.

Special hyperlinks with an identity code track their efforts. Affiliates put these links on their site or blog to receive a percentage of sales. While this sounds really cool, you need to determine the percentage you can comfortably afford.

Affiliates give you direct access to customers you may otherwise not reach. More importantly, it is safe because you only pay commission on sales which you may not have gotten by buying ad space. Thus, return on investment is always better.

Remember to evaluate third party affiliates properly to ensure maintenance of your reputation. Notwithstanding, affiliate marketing may just be the safe boost your sales needs.

Google AdWords

Google has an advertising network, Google AdWords that offers retailers the opportunity to advertise on Google search results page as well as other partner websites. Hence, businesses can leverage Google’s digital advertising products to increase brand awareness and drive traffic to their site. There is a pay-per-click cost attached to the service and the ads you want will show up on their result pages based on users’ search of keywords.

Comparison Shopping Engines

Comparison Shopping Engines (CSE) let customers compare product prices, shipping costs, and product features, operating on a cost-per-click basis. Price driven shoppers often use comparison shopping engines in their purchases to get the best deals.

Product information is collected from ecommerce stores and displayed as product listing advert on the result pages of search engines. Product information is aggregated from merchants registered with the site and all these are displayed to help customers compare prices and product features; all in a bid to make an informed purchase decision. It is no surprise that conversion rates here are always higher. It is a powerful tool that increases your store visibility fueling your brand.

When using comparison shopping engines, tag all product links so you know where your customers are coming from. Furthermore, you should leave out goods that are likely to quickly sell out quickly, as shopping feeds may update infrequently.

In the course of this post, we will be discussing two out of the many that are obtainable in the marketplace; Google Shopping and Bing Shopping.

Google Shopping

If you are still wondering what this is all about, wonder no more! Google search ads are the result of search engine listings when you try searching for specific products with Google. Another way to bump results for products is to include “shop for,” the product name and end the sentence with “Google.” This will display different products in line with the product name. Thus, your product will appear at the top of search results giving you maximum visibility.

Google Shopping, also known as Product Listing Ads, is one that can give ecommerce businesses a competitive edge. This is because product images with the brand name will automatically display, in the place of regular short text. Using a pay-per-click model, individual products are displayed with payment made only after someone visits your website.

Google matches keyword searches with your product, thus increasing conversion rates. However, it is a paid advertising platform. The more you pay and the more relevant your product is to the keyword, the better ranking it gets. There are also specifications to adhere to. All these are important considerations you should take into account.

Bing Shopping

Considerably cheaper than and more of a clone of Google Shopping, Bing Shopping can result in great conversions and gives users the flexibility of importing all Google campaigns with the click of a button.

In the same way the Google Ads work, Bing Ads include large product images, prices of products, names of the product, a short product description, and your business site.

Bing, however, has smaller market share compared to Google, but it is, however, a channel a business can use in the generation of additional sales.

Facebook and Instagram Ads

With Facebook, you can target potential customers by age, gender, geographic location, and interests. This makes Facebook far more versatile than other sales channels. Facebook ads come in different forms – the marketplace ads, page posts ads, sponsored stories, promoted posts among a host of others. Facebook marketplace ads, however, are the most standard type of ads.

Quite popular because of its large audience, online businesses can attest to the fact that Facebook does work.

For firms that have a large presence on Instagram, it offers shopping functionality with a display of product image, price and other product information that can help a consumer in his buying decision.

Bring it All Together

Sales efforts should never cease. Every day, you should look for new sales channels, because your average customer won’t likely stick with just one. They strive for unlimited freedom in their ability to shop anywhere. You have totally missed the mark if your product is not showing up where customers are searching for them.

Multichannel is the new gospel because it allows you to sell anywhere. Don’t get confused; there are no statistics that can prove beyond reasonable doubt that you can sell better on a particular sales channel than the other. However, the sales strategies employed in each of them will go a long way to push sales.

With digital technologies comes omnichannel strategy which affords a brand the opportunity to select the best channels that give the desired results. This is why it is necessary to know your customers intimately; especially how they shop, to know the channels that will be the best fit for your company goals.

After the selection of sales channels, it is important that marketing channels that will best support them be developed. Proper evaluation of the various channels selected is key. Think about expected traffic generation, costs per impression, cost per click, and conversion rates. How is the impact and return on investment? You need to check all of these against any sales channels you want to sell your products through.

Your product category can also help determine the best marketplace for your brand because they won’t all be ideal for you.

A seamless experience should be provided across all channels selected. Customers should not feel a connection with your brand in one sales channel and disconnected in another. Consistency is important to sustain and increase their experiences in a way that delights them.

Now that you know how to identify new sales channels, click here to see what Catsy can do for you.

How Do You Manage Your Ecommerce Product Attributes?

Product attributes vary from one to another as much as people are different from each other. Does that seem weird? Just think of your product attributes in terms of the features or properties that make your product what it is. Features like color, packaging, capacity, size, weight, and anything else that distinguishes a product tend to be different.

Your product attributes will definitely affect your consumers’ purchase decisions. Consumers considering the product attributes highlighted on your site as unique can be the difference between you and the competition. You can turn a prospect into a loyal customer if they think these unique features are valuable.

You need to understand your target customers and the preferences they have for certain product attributes. This will dictate the best way to satisfy them in line with their budget. The issue of price comes into play here. Some product attributes can only be attained within a particular price range.

Tangible vs. Intangible Product Attributes

Now, you probably have an idea of this already, but product attributes can be tangible or intangible. Size, color, touch, packaging, weight, volume, taste, quantity, and material composition are tangible product attributes. Intangible product attributes include quality, reliability, and aesthetics, among others. For example, when driving a car, qualities like the color or the interior décor can move customers towards a particular brand. On the other hand, quality and safety tests can change the mind of the consumer in favor of a competing brand.

This is why you must manage tangible and intangible product attributes properly. Simply, they are the criteria a customer uses to arrive at his or her buying decision.

Why Choose One Product over Another?

Before you can think of developing strategies to help you manage your products, you need to be familiar with all your product attributes. In creating compelling product content to market your products, attributes work like arrows pointing to the underlying aspects of the product. These can easily determine whether a given consumer will buy them. Let’s look at two examples.

Consider a customer walking into a fast-food restaurant. Your first thought will be the purchase of food at reasonable prices, right? Digging further, the product attributes your consumers could be looking for may include service speed, the interior décor and ambiance of the restaurant, or just the neatness of your staff. A consumer looking at cars may want reliability or durability as opposed to being focused on the car’s brand name.

However, the importance of various product attributes differ from person to person. While reliability may be a deal breaker for some, it could be aesthetics for others. It goes to show how important product ratings are with regards to product attributes. Most companies conduct extensive research on product attributes and their competitors’ methods to incorporate the best product attributes into their delivery.

Why Do Product Attributes Matter Anyway?

Phillip Kotler, a marketing authority discussing product attributes, said: “product attributes are the ingredients necessary for performing the product or service function sought by consumers.” There are basic attributes that customers must find in products and services. They enable the product to perform their proper functions, referred to as Points of Parity.

The absence of these must-have attributes in a product leads to a complete eviction without consideration. A movie theatre should sell treats like popcorn and drinks. We all know consumers expect to have a good time.

In the same line, there are differentiating attributes that make a product or service unique, referred to as points of difference. These features go a step further to create a unique customer experience that will delight. Still on the movie theatre, as a differentiating attribute, it can go a step further by having extra-cushy and comfortable seats for the delight of their consumers. However, it should be noted that these features gradually become points of parity with time.

Some product attributes could also be on the verge of extinction or being phased completely out of existence. These extinct and vestigial features can be modified or completely abandoned. The advancement in technology occurring at the speed of light makes it difficult in some product modifications and may require complete abandonment. Ask the companies that make videotapes and you will understand better.

There is also the presence of dissatisfaction that must be considered. These are the attributes that are abhorred by consumers and discourage them from its use or consumption. A product design can dissatisfy a consumer or the general composition of the product or service. For example, some consumers may reject your offering of fur coats because of the thought of animals being harmed in the process.

I can only imagine the wealth of product information that can be gleaned from understanding your product attributes. You need to constantly be in touch with your product features to ensure they are still satisfying the needs of consumers and going a step further to delight them.

The unique feature you offer may be your product’s saving grace when grouped in a category of products offering similar benefits, giving you a competitive edge. It is so important that consumers are beginning to choose products and services that offer more features than competing brands. And of course, the popularity of internet makes it possible to evaluate similar products in so little time.

Managing the Aesthetic Appeal of Products

When you hear the word aesthetics, synonyms like beauty, attractiveness, and pleasurable come to mind. Aesthetics relate to art and beauty. The aesthetic appeal of a product appeals to your five senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell and of course, your emotions. Qualities like color, shape, pattern, movement, texture, scale and movement appeal to the sense of sight. Consumers can use these qualities to make their purchase decisions.

When we talk about our sense of hearing, we look out for elements like the beat, noise, pitch, tempo, and melody and volume control. Using sense of smell exposes us to elements like strength, sweetness, fragrance. Elements like texture, weight, shape, vibration, ease of use, comfort can influence through our sense of touch. To satisfy the appeal of our sense of taste, we use elements like sourness, sweetness, amongst others.

The aesthetic appeal of your product should be considered in product design. Of course, the aesthetic appeal may be the primary selling point for some products, while the reverse is the case for some. Using the example of a car, a sports car will have more emphasis on aesthetics than a family salon car which has more emphasis on durability and reliability. It will not be wise making the aesthetic appeal of a product your major selling point when it should deliver on other elements.

The importance of visual elements in influencing purchase action should not be ignored. Constantly ask yourself “how can my product beautify?” and use this answer to increase aesthetic appeal and make your customers understand why you should be at the top of their list. Marketers are gradually realizing that design of products can be a differentiating factor in the purchase of products and services.

Product Style and Design

A distinctive and unique product design and style have the capacity to add customer value. Oftentimes, the design of a product can be attributed to its looks and usefulness to the consumers. It is not enough to brainstorm and come up with an explosive idea, you need to observe your consumers and think of the benefits consumers should expect to enjoy. Doing this will expose you to the design that is best suited for your product according to the expectations of your customers.

Your winning strategy might be focusing on the design features that are unique to your product and use it to your competitive advantage. A typical example is the sleekness of Apple’s design which consumers can spot a thousand miles away.

Create new styles for your existing products. The style of your product must be captivating enough to elicit a wow expression and not a yawn. Yes, it has to be eye-catching to warrant a second, third and even a fourth look. Product design is important because the demands of customers for greater varieties are increasing on a daily basis with technological advancements; with an ever-ready switch option. Here, product lifecycle comes into play.

You need to discover the level your product is at in the product lifecycle. Is it declining in online sales and market share? If it is, you can modify some features like packaging, contents and so to re-introduce it to the market.

Key Points to Note on Product Quality

The issue of quality is a subjective one. Of course, a lot of literature has been written about quality but attacked from differing points of view. With all these numerous definitions, at the end of the day, “quality” to a consumer is achieved when the product can be used effectively. Quality is that feature that distinguishes the novice from the professional. What will bring people beating a path to your doorstep is your commitment to quality; which makes a world of difference to your customers.

Ask a regular customer which feature she would appreciate more regardless of price. The response is likely to be “quality.” Because who wouldn’t want a high-quality product?

How organized are your processes? Standardize your processes to maximize efficiency and effectiveness. This translates to recruiting and training all personnel working with you with well defined tasks to deliver and produce high-quality products. Bear in mind that your practices must align with standard industry practices.

I agree that using substandard parts, components and equipment can save you some huge bucks; however, it is an only short-term with long-term negative effects that are destructive to the growth of your business.

A lot of firms are quick to carry out quality tests at the end of their manufacturing processes. You do not have to follow the bandwagon. Infuse the quality tests into your processes and do not wait until the end. Doing so will help you uncover defective components problems which can be resolved immediately.

The increase in customer satisfaction is indications that you are doing something right; build on that and obtain feedback from customers, suppliers, and employees alike to further improve your practices. These feedbacks will help point out areas of weaknesses and strength which if resolved will help build your image as a brand and increase your overall productivity and profitability.

Quality and Positioning Strategy In Relation To Price

You should select a quality level that is in line with your product’s positioning strategy which will help consumers find an answer to the question of “why should I buy your brand?” Your brand’s positioning strategy is in their value propositions, which are benefits that differentiate your brand from that of competitors.

A company has many positioning strategies it can use. And all of them will affect the quality of their offerings. Some businesses can opt for the option of positioning their brand on a more for more strategy.  With this positioning strategy, businesses provide top-of-the-line products that deliver more benefits at a higher price. Apple is a typical example of a business using the more for more approach.

Using the more for the same strategy, firms can introduce their brand into the market as one with comparable quality at a price that is lower than that of competition. Another positioning strategy is the same for less strategy. Some discount stores make use of this to appeal to consumers who don’t want to sacrifice quality.

The less for much less strategy is one that offers less quality for much less price, taking into account the section of the population that cannot afford the absolute best but need to experience the feel of it. For example, Southwest Airlines positioned their offerings on this strategy, offering cheap flights without the luxury of flying attached. A final important strategy involves getting more for less. This is a winning strategy because of the promise of high-quality products at a lesser price.

Packaging—the Silent Salesman

Looking to manage your product’s features? Product delivery begins with packaging, a feature that you will do well to manage properly. So, you figure you have the best solution in the market and your product should be in high demand but the opposite seems to be the case. One reason could be that there may be a defect in the packaging of your product.

You have to take charge and give your packaging a hundred percent rating. The truth is that instinct buying is taking over and that color, shape, and proximity to location are the drivers of this. Even before the logical side of you has time to reason it out, you buy. Remember, as much as you are store owners, you are consumers first! Thinking as a consumer when making product decisions is the best option you can follow.

When designing your packaging, you have to apply sensory triggers that generate emotion in the subconscious before the conscious side of your customers is awoken.  With your packaging, it makes it easier for your customers to know all about your offering at a glance, further influencing quick purchase action. Your packaging should be such that it can adequately protect the contents within and stand out from the crowd on the shelf.

Your design should not be overly complex. Simple would do just fine. Nothing is more frustrating than a package that seems to provoke stress and headache in uncovering its contents.

Never underestimate the power of feelings in purchase decisions. Consumers will only purchase when a brand provokes a feeling within them. Your packaging should have the capacity of triggering an emotional engagement with your customers; making it a silent salesman!

Pull It Together

As a business that seeks to stand the test of time, it is best to remain uncompromising on the quality of your product or service offerings. However, it isn’t just for management to maintain quality processes. Instead, it requires the conscious effort of everyone within the company.

Maintaining quality practices should become a culture guiding every action through careful planning. Follow the program by implementing the plan and iteration. You can maintain quality by consistently employing best practices.

As for aesthetic appeal, research shows aesthetics is like a bridge linking products and consumer emotion. How a product looks pushes them to make decisions in the shortest of time spans. Consumers are looking for products that appeal to their emotions daily and are willing to shift to competing brands that can satisfy this. So, do not settle nor play it safe!

As a store owner, you need to determine the positioning strategy you want to incorporate into your activities and this will determine the attributes that will be accorded to your products and services, tailored to a particular customer group.

On the issue of product benefits and product features, many will base their arguments that benefits matter more. Although benefits are highly important, product attribute also plays a role in providing a competitive advantage for store owners.

Every product has a particular benefit they render. For example, mobile phones render the benefit of connectivity; facial creams render the benefit of beauty, amongst others. While all these are indisputable, consumers will likely go for products that offer features that other products do not offer within similar price ranges.

For the mobile phones, a consumer will opt for a mobile device that comes with extra features like Bluetooth connectivity, glass screen guards, phone packs as against those that come without, even if they do not understand the functions the features perform. The same applies to services. When you distinguish your services with the addition of unique features, consumers will always beat a path to the door of your store. Be it offline or online, this remains true.

However, communication tools like advertising and personal sales can change your customers’ opinions and influence their tastes. Through marketing communications, your customers can discover little known product attributes and maybe even buy something they wouldn’t have otherwise.

Now that you know how important product attribute management is in ecommerce, click here to see what Catsy can do for you.