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Guide to eCommerce: Usability, Upsell, Cross-sell, & Conversions – Part I

When a user gets to your site, they want the ability to find exactly what they are looking for in seconds.  If the user is just browsing, it is important to have your products categorized in a well, thought-out manner.  If you make it difficult for a user to navigate your site, you can almost guarantee that you will lose that potential customer.

Part one of the guide to eCommerce, talks about factors of how to present and organize your products to gain the highest results.

Product Categories


The way that you categorize your products has a major impact as to how well a user will understand your product offerings and know where to find what they are looking for.  Something to think about when categorizing your products is to remember that everyone searches differently.  Having multiple ways to navigate to the same product is important. This is known as “redundant navigation.”

For example, someone looking for an office desk may search by “Office Desk”, “Office Furniture”, “Cherry Desk”, or “Glass Desk”.  No matter how that user searches, you want the ability for that user to find what they are looking for within your site navigation.  The example shown illustrates how you can access the same product or group of products either “By Design”, “By Style”, or “By Finish”.

By using multiple navigation points, sites that do not offer many products, can seem more comprehensive.

Search/Sort Functionality

For ready-to-buy shoppers, there is a good possibility that they already know which product or model they want to buy.  For these buyers, it may be easier to enter the model # or product name into a search box that will check the entire site.  For example, if a user wants to purchase a Sony Cybershot camera, they may enter “Cybershot” or even “Cybershot DSC-W220” to quickly find what they are looking for.


So what about the user that knows they want a camera, however they are not sure exactly what brand or type of camera they want?  That user will either search the broad term “camera” or “digital camera” or they will search using your navigation.  For this type of search, it is important to have multiple ways to sort the results of that broad category.  For example, some users may have a certain price range they are looking to stay in, some may be looking for a specific brand, or others may be looking for product capabilities.  Using a “Sort By” function, will help the user further refine their search quickly and determine which product is right for them.


Product Photos


Because users cannot physically touch the product when purchasing online, it is essential you give them the tools they need to picture what it would be like to have the product in their hands.

The most important aspect to displaying products on your site is to have high-quality photos.  Especially for luxury products or products that have a lot of detail, high-quality jpegs will help a user visualize what the product would look like.

A zoom in feature is another easy way for a user to see greater detail of the product.


Not only will professional product photos help increase sales, but if you decide to create a printable catalog, you can reuse the same photos.

Photo enhancements and zoom in photo features can go beyond just products. The same enhancements can be applied to multiple industries and product types. For example, in the real estate market a great tool for showcasing homes are 360 views and virtual tours. If the product you are selling is too big for a photo or could be better explained using 360 views or video, this can be a great way to tell the story of your product…whatever that may be.


Product Descriptions

Having a good product description can make or break a sale.  Most websites will just cut and paste the product description from the manufacturer.  However there are a number of reasons why you should have a unique product description.

  • SEO Benefits:  Search engines love unique content, so it makes sense that if every other website uses the same content to describe a product, that the one that is unique, will stand out.  If you take the time to write a description that varies from the manufacturers, search engines can see that and will reward you for it.
  • Conversion Benefits:  If the end-user reads a description that is well thought-out and highlights the benefits of the product, a user is more inclined to purchase the product.

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