Industrial products are more complex than average consumer products. A fall arrest harness or roller bearing has a higher number of technical features than, say, an area rug. As a result, uncertainty is higher in customers’ minds as they shop for industrial products online.
To ease their concerns, steps must be taken to properly present your products, structure your keyword search, and maintain all this information.
Images Reduce Uncertainty
Clear images and descriptive copy help reduce this uncertainty. Presented at key decision-making points in the shopping journey, images and copy educate customers and assure them they’re buying the correct product.
Research on the role of images in e-commerce indicates that clear, varied, and detailed images increase trust in an e-commerce site.
For example, lets look at two B2B distributors that sell light bulbs. With one distributor, customers can choose from a list of words to select bulb shape. With the other, they can choose from images of the shapes themselves. Since most customers aren’t experts in the detailed variety of light bulb shapes, they’re more likely to buy from the distributor featuring images. The images are clear and easy-to-understand, reducing uncertainty about which bulb shape is the correct one they need.
Studies on the effect of e-commerce copywriting show that original, easy-to-scan copy increases conversion and boosts organic SEO. Good product copy is informative, educational, and helps customers solve specific problems.
Customers want to read detailed, informative copy about each product and how it’s used. Since customers often shop to solve a problem, i.e., I’m looking for the best abrasive material to use on ceramic, they will find this copy extremely useful.
Effective keyword search starts with a great algorithm. A great algorithm accounts for different ways customers search for products online. For example, one customer may search for socket head cap screw while another will search for SHCS. Or, one customer may search for rotary hammer while another will search for a combi drill.
Because of this variation, your keyword search algorithm must account for spelling, punctuation, spacing, and synonym differences. Without a great algorithm, products lose visibility in search results, creating missed sales opportunities.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when optimizing for keyword search.
- Account for Spacing and Punctuation Variants
- Example: A B2B distributor sells dental supplies. One keyword search for “tin silver crowns” displays 204 products, while another for the hyphenated “tin-silver” displays only six products. This search algorithm doesn’t recognize the hyphen, which means 198 products disappear from search results on the right.
- Account for Plural Variants.
- Example: A B2B distributor sells dental mirrors. On the left, a keyword search for “mirror” displays 341 products, while a search for the plural “mirrors” displays only 279 products. This algorithm doesn’t recognize singular and plural variations, which results in 62 products disappearing from search results.
- Account for Product Synonyms
- Example: A keyword search for “whirlpool tub” displays over 5,000 products, while a search for the synonym “jacuzzi bathtubs” displays only 551 products. While these are brand names, most customers view them as synonyms and will expect to see the same results for both search terms.
Establish a Single Source of Truth
Now that you’ve invested in high-quality product content, how are you going to maintain it? Who is going to update it? And how will you make sure employees use the most accurate, up-to-date version of product content?
Product information management (PIM) systems establish a single source of truth, which means your product content is stored and maintained in only one system. This ensures your data is always accurate, up-to-date, and error-free. It also ensures employees work from only one system, enterprise-wide.
Without a single source of truth, product content can be changed by multiple people in different places. This leads to inaccurate, repetitive, outdated, and inconsistent product content that translates to your downstream systems and channel partners, and ultimately, to your customers. A study on ROI of PIM systems found that almost 60 percent of distributors saw an increase in e-commerce sales when they used a PIM.
PIM systems allow you to easily and efficiently:
- Onboard new products to the web
- Normalize product data
- Update product data
- Maintain consistency in product data
- Eliminate errors and duplicate data
- Integrate with CRM and ERP systems
- Feed into catalogs, mobile, and channel partners
Planning for Success
A successful e-commerce website involves more than simply making your products available online. Customers must be able to search, find, and understand your products in order to buy them. Findability, faceted navigation, product images and copy, and effective SEO and keyword search are all critical to the success or failure of your e-commerce website.