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Best Practices to Optimize the eCommerce Product Detail Page (PDP) & Increase Conversions

The product detail page (PDP) is the most important page on your eCommerce site. It’s where your customer converts to “add to cart,” a critical step in the shopping funnel on the way to purchase. When it comes to conversion rate optimization (CRO), the PDP is a good place to start your site audit and should be high up on your priority list of features to update. 

How to get started optimizing the PDP

It’s important to know your customers. By understanding what’s important to your customers, you are more in tune with what information they might be looking for on the PDP to make a decision about purchasing. There are several ways to get this information, which you can use to inform your brand’s key value propositions, highlight differentiating product attributes, and build trust with customers. 

  • Look at industry practices and standards. There’s plenty of research and examples to use as a guide. For example, in cosmetics, customers may want to know about animal testing and safe ingredients. For food products, information about non-GMO or allergen-free ingredients might be important. 
  • Review your products’ physical packaging for cues. Examine what information is included and how the information is presented on the physical packaging (likely the most important information first or most prominently). 
  • Ask your customers directly. Use pre- and post-purchase surveys (e.g., website, email, SMS) to ask customers what’s important to them regarding your products, brand values, shopping experience, and more. This will give you the most accurate information that is specific to your own customers.

What to test and optimize 

We generally use a two-step process to update the PDP. First, we leverage site analytics to identify pain points and apply best practices in design and UI/UX, which are drawn from research, industry best practices, and our expertise. 

Next, we use A/B testing to fine-tune the new features and increase the add-to-cart rate. For example, for an apparel brand, we know we have to include information about size and fit, but testing helps us identify the best way to present that information to customers. 

We find there are five key optimization opportunities on the PDP that have the most impact.

1. Add-to-cart button 

This button is critical because it’s the primary call-to-action on the PDP. It should have unique styling to clearly distinguish it from all of the other information on the page. You can test attributes to make it stand out, including color, size, placement, and making it sticky/persistent. When the button isn’t prominent enough, customers can get distracted, and the add-to-cart rate can go down. 

For mobile, a sticky add-to-cart button can be effective when there’s a lot of product storytelling on the page. As customers scroll, they can easily add to cart at any time without having to scroll back up to the top. 

However, it’s important to test a sticky add-to-cart button, especially on mobile because there needs to be a delicate balance. The sticky button should not hinder the experience by distracting customers or blocking interaction with the page. It’s important to track it closely to see how it’s performing and know if it needs further fine-tuning. 

2. The buy box

The buy box is prime real estate on the PDP and it’s the main tool customers use to get information about price and product variant options in order to decide to add to cart. Therefore, it’s important to make sure the information that is most important to the customer is there and easy to understand. 

In general, it’s important to make sure there’s a balance of providing enough information, including price, product description, key benefits/value props, purchase incentives, return policy, and product images, so that the majority of customers feel confident about adding to cart without needing to scroll down the page for additional details.

3. Imagery

When purchasing online, images are critical, especially the primary image that the customer sees first, which can strongly influence them to explore further. Beyond being sure to have an engaging primary image, some additional best practices include: 

  • Have at least three to five product images 
  • Show products in scale
  • Provide images of the product on a model, as relevant
  • Provide lifestyle images for products
  • Include additional descriptive text on images (e.g., model size, features, specifications, etc.)

4. Information architecture and hierarchy 

Testing helps you determine what information should be elevated to help customers add to cart faster or more often. As mentioned above, the most critical information should be in the buy box. Below the buy box, add supporting content sections, such additional product details, ingredients, usage instructions, and more. 

When designing the page, it’s important to balance being informative enough with being clear – too much information can hinder customers from quickly navigating to the information they want. Not every customer will want to take the same path. You’ll want to test how to present information in a way that gives customers a quick glance, but then also guides them to learn more if they’re interested. Making information optional helps avoid overwhelming customers with too much information all at once.

One solution that can be effective is using accordions with scannable topic headlines. This is especially useful on mobile, prompting customers to expand to learn more. Also, consider bulleting information on the page versus using a paragraph format.

5. Product recommendations

Adding cross-sells, such as “pairs best with” or “customers also bought” to the PDP can have a significant impact on average order value (AOV), so you’ll want to test not only the placement of recommendations, but also the products that are recommended. 

The buy box is a great place for recommendations when you have a product, like shampoo, that is closely affiliated with another product, like conditioner. We often test having that cross-sell product featured in the buy box under the add-to-cart button.

Further down the page, test adding a section for relevant upsells/alternative products to keep the customer engaged if the product on the PDP isn’t exactly what they’re looking for. It also avoids customer frustration at having to click back and forth between search results and product pages. 

Another good test to do if you’re using a recommendations engine like Rebuy, is to compare the conversion rates for merchant-chosen cross-sells with the app’s algorithm/AI presets and see which does better. You might be surprised! 

Subscription information on the PDP

In addition to the five key areas above, if a client has a subscription program, we like to test to optimize subscription conversions on the PDP. 

For example, you could test if it’s best to default to a one-time purchase or subscription in the buy box. Default to subscription may result in an increase in the number of subscribers and ultimately boost customer lifetime value (CLTV), but it also may result in annoyed customers who don’t realize they’ve subscribed until they get a recurring charge. 

When you test different strategies and designs for subscriptions, it’s important to make sure the presentation of the UI is very clear and highlights the value of “subscribe and save.” While providing a subscription or other discounts do serve the customer, if not done well, it can create confusion and decision paralysis, lowering add-to-cart rates. 

How do you decide what to test on the PDP? 

To determine where to focus, first identify any friction points on the PDP. To find friction points, look at some key metrics. Generally, if any of the following metrics specific to the PDP (across all product pages) are consistently declining or are outside of industry standards, it’s an indicator of friction on the PDP. 

  • Exit rate: This metric shows where a session on your site ends. Our expected exit rate on product pages is less than 60%. By monitoring the exit rate for your PDPs (% of total customers with a multi-page session who leave the PDP without adding to cart), you can tweak and A/B test to try and lower the exit rate. 
  • Add-to-cart rate: This is the percent of visitors to the PDP who add product to cart. Our expected add-to-cart rate on product pages is at least 10%. It’s good to monitor this for sudden changes (if it drops off, there could be a technical problem), as well as if it goes up after any work is done to improve the PDP UI/UX. 
  • Bounce rate: This shows the percent of visitors who click onto a PDP from somewhere else and then leave, without interacting with the site. Essentially, a one-page session. Our expected bounce rate on product pages is less than 50%. It’s important to know where the visitors that bounce are coming from – you may be paying for this traffic (advertising) and not getting conversions. This could be for multiple reasons, including bad traffic, technical issues on your PDP, or the wrong content on the PDP that isn’t working to engage visitors.

Note: The metric benchmarks shared above are indicative of eCommerce best practices without specificity to acquisition channels or industry.

In addition to looking at metrics, it’s a good idea to make sure to review PDP from a designer’s point of view. At eHouse Studio, we tap our designers’ expertise about what’s not functioning well on the PDP and why. 

Lastly, heat mapping can be useful to see if users are reaching certain points on the PDP and then leaving. For example, you’ll be able to see how many customers drop off as they scroll further down the page and where they lose interest. Heat mapping also can help you identify where customers are frustrated. For instance, if we see a lot of clicks or tapping on a non-clickable feature in a short amount of time, you can infer that customers want more information here and are frustrated it doesn’t work. 

See big returns on an optimized PDP

If the PDP isn’t converting, your shopping funnel is broken – and that’s not good! The PDP is one of the first areas we usually target with our retained services clients because it can have a significant impact on the business. One of our clients saw a 90% increase in add-to-cart from the PDP after our UI redesign. Do you think your PDP needs an update? We can help – give us a call!