Driving through town on my way back from the gym yesterday, I spotted a closing down sale sign in the window of my favourite deli and specialty cheese shop. Reason enough to make a quick U-turn and pop in.

While stocking up on Maasdam, Gouda and grabbing a big chunk of creamy goat blue, I asked the owner why they’d decided to stop trading.

“Covid”, was the short answer.

Not only had it become more difficult to get their seriously delicious imported cheeses from The Netherlands and Switzerland to New Zealand, 

Their website had seen a huge growth in sales since lockdown began on March 26 so that combined with the high rent of the building they’re in, it made sense to ramp up the e-store and close the Tauranga shop.

The good news for cheese lovers in the Waikato is that the two Gouda Cheese Shops in Hamilton will stay open. I’ll just have to wait for delivery from now on when I have a craving.

The new normal

Before coronavirus reared its ugly head, New Zealanders had a lukewarm relationship with shopping online. Research conducted by Nielsen showed that lots of people go online to check prices and read reviews, but for actual buying, most of us preferred to go out and get things from the local stores.

Well, all that has changed. Online shopping for groceries and health products has become part of the new normal. This article posted by the IT Brief newsdesk on April 16 talks about a new report from GlobalData, which revealed that these changes could be here to stay for the foreseeable future.

I’ve also noticed plenty of entrepreneurs in Facebook business groups who are taking their business digital-only or launching new e-commerce websites. Good on them! Shopify, PayPal and Stripe must be doing a roaring trade.

Get them to add to basket

Personally, I’m quite comfortable with buying things online and I’ve scored some fantastic new and preloved items over the years. In saying that, I also clicked away quite often.

What do you think are the deciding factors for a consumer to go ahead with an online buy?

First, the photos you use on your product pages need to really draw them in. Make sure it all looks totally professional and attractive. If you see a shirt worn by a gorgeous model on your screen or if you’re looking at that same shirt simply pictured on a hanger, which one are you more likely to buy?

Not every online retailer has a budget to invest in professional photography, especially when you’re just starting out. But if you know some of the techniques and have the proper tools, it’s absolutely doable to DIY. In case you’re not sure where to start, check out this Shopify blog post for some great tips.

Images are hugely important, and people will need to know things about the size, availability, colour range, and price of course. A quick, easy and secure purchasing process is also essential, but so are the product descriptions. Here’s what Shopify has to say about it.  

I have found some examples of product descriptions on e-stores for you that I think are done exceptionally well. These were not written by me, just to make that clear, but they could have been…

Yes to the Moochi Lucky Sweater

The short description is a designer’s note: “Our Moochi favourite sweat, the lucky sweater is back in a warm brittle hue. This cleverly designed crewneck features an asymmetric hem with high splits tied together by drawcord straps allowing you to create a variety of looks for different moods.”

The full description adds a possible pairing with other items from the store, notes about the size and fit, as well as the hight and size of the model, then lists the materials and directions for wear and care.

It’s beautiful, emotive, and I like it. The only thing that stops me from buying it is my limited budget.

Yes to Lorna Jane’s Square Neck Sports Bra

The description is titled WHY WE LOVE IT and reads:

“Clean lines and a sporty aesthetic can be found in the Square Neck Sports Bra by Lorna Jane. Engineered from Nothing 2 C Here Fabric with moisture wicking technology, it offers a high support cut for the ultimate fit. Featuring flattering neckline, supportive over the shoulder straps into an open scoop back and feature elasticated Lorna Jane strikethrough font hem band graphic. Wear with the matching Short Tights for a match made in sport-luxe heaven or style with a black high waisted full length tight and trainers for a traditional gym look with a sporty edge.”

As it’s exactly what I need/want and it’s my birthday tomorrow (what a good reason to treat myself), it was quickly added to the shopping bag and will be on its way to Tauranga soon. The Lorna Jane size-guide is beautifully done, too.

Yes to this adorable puppy print

The description reads:

“This pawsome patched pup is looking for a new bestie to grow up and explore new or familiar places with. Part of the Animal Art Series fundraiser – Proceeds are donated to the SPCA, for the love of animals.”

It’s part of a stunning series created by a fabulous local artist/graphic designer who is also an all-around good person, so what’s not to love?  Buy one for yourself. You know you want to!

Highlight the benefits

Search is important when it comes to e-commerce so do include the relevant keywords but unless your product is unusual and needs a good bit of clarification along with the images, there’s no need to write a lot. A few strong sentences will do the trick.

One of the key principles of content marketing is to provide the audience with useful, informative and persuasive content. That’s why it is a great idea to point out the benefits your product will bring to the buyer. No matter if you sell clothing, electronics, or groceries online, you should use your description to explain how your product’s features will work for them.

Take the Lorna Jane sports bra as an example. The benefit words are:

  • moisture wicking
  • high support
  • supportive
  • open scoop back

Okay, I was already half sold when I saw the pictures as I love the look of this item, but I wouldn’t have bought it if it didn’t mention the support. In saying that, I can’t give it the bounce test until it arrives so I’ll just have to trust that that it delivers.

Being accurate in your description is another super important factor, as you don’t want to be dealing with lots of returns. If you sell boots and they are a rather small fit, tell your customers to go a size up from their normal shoe size. Keep in mind that customers who have returned something to a retailer aren’t likely to make another purchase from that brand.

As I’m a content creator myself, I’m a big fan of brand driven storytelling on websites and I love it even more if it’s done in a dynamic way from start to finish. The tone and messages should be consistent throughout the website, product descriptions included, and don’t forget that all important call to action.

Brownie points from me if it has humour, is personal, or a little cheeky.

Some honourable mentions:

How this divine hair product brand tells a story
My favourite sustainable NZ dairy-free yoghurt brand
Making something as simple as loo paper exciting and fun

If you’d like some help with making the product descriptions on your website truly shine, reach out to Sweet Orange and let’s have a chat. Getting things right and fully optimised for Google on your product pages can make your online business soar.

~ Martine Pierhagen, content creator and founder of Sweet Orange Ltd

For quality copy and/or great product descriptions for your website and marketing materials, think Sweet Orange!

Call 021 492 040, email info@sweetorange.co.nz, or send us a message today!