How Ecommerce Stores Can Lift Less Inspiring Products And Brands

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Summer Updated: January 06, 2021

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Overview

Some products essentially sell themselves. Just look at the gaming consoles releasing this year. Demand for Xbox and PlayStation consoles is so high that anyone who can stock them won’t have them for very long — it started with preorders weeks back and hasn’t changed since they were released.

Alternatively, imagine Apple rolling out another revolutionary product following in the footsteps of the iPod and the iPhone: something to radically reshape how we view some core aspect of daily life. The sheer hype would prove incredibly lucrative.

Most products, though, fall short of that lofty standard. They might be extremely useful and tremendously valuable, but no one is excited about them. That’s where the perception of brands becomes so significant.

I mentioned Apple to segue into commentary on the company itself, as its bold and finely-honed marketing strategy has been iconic for decades now. Apple can roll out a slight generational update and still yield huge sales numbers just because it’s Apple.

But just as products can be uninteresting, brands can be dull or simply unfamiliar, and that accounts for the bulk of them — which leads us to the realization that the average retail listing consists of a boring product from a humdrum brand.

At least brick-and-mortar retail allows products to stand out through appearance, though.

Online retail tends to produce identikit listings that all blur together when you filter out the household names and industry stalwarts.

This leads to the titular topic of figuring out how to take ordinary items from ordinary brands and present them in the best possible light. Great sales work can do a lot to compensate for those shortcomings, after all.

With that established, let’s get to the core of this piece: some key suggestions for how ecommerce stores can turn regular products and brands into hits.

How eCommerce stores can turn regular products into hits

Optimize product descriptions

Take a look at a menu for a low-budget local burger place. You’ll see matter-of-fact item descriptions along the lines of “Chicken burger with cheese and large drink”: perfectly fine if you’re extremely hungry and unwilling to go very far, but not all that interesting.

In a high-end restaurant, though, something not too dissimilar could have a very different description: “A delicately-seasoned free-range chicken patty with a generous helping of rich cheddar cheese, served in a lightly-toasted brioche bun and accompanied by a large drink of your choice.”

How you describe something matters. If you’re able to be particularly reductive, you can make the most compelling products sound boring, and if you’re quick with modifiers then you can even take a dull product and make it sound like something that people need to buy.

Take a look at the Omega watch description pictured above. Do you really need that much detail about a watch? No, but it makes it sound infinitely more important. Additionally, you can couple your description with fleshed-out product visuals.

Suppose that you’re trying to sell something that can be purchased from myriad other online stores. If you take the time to replace the provided product photos with your own product photos, you can pick up many more sales than your rivals for exactly the same item: even those who know it’s the same item will still see your listing as somehow better.

The perfect example of how this can work is a company uch as Marks & Spencers, an upmarket UK superstore chain that primarily sells food. Over the decades, much has been made of its recently-resurrected “This is not just food” campaign.

Though its food is generally high-quality, it pulls out all the stops to make everyday foodstuffs look and sound like life-changing delicacies, using prose bordering on purple and slow-motion footage to grab your attention.

Write content to boost SEO

Some products are so laden with hype that they draw people in from all around them. Relate this to a restaurant getting such rave reviews that everyone talks about it all the time, with the recommendations being so strong that they pull in people who wouldn’t ordinarily eat out. The iPhone, for instance, attracted people who’d never been interested in smartphones.

When that hype isn’t present, it’s necessary to cater to practicality instead of impulse. Think of a smaller eatery with a niche menu. No one unsure about eating out will want to go there, so the people who can be won over are those who’ll conduct research about possible places to eat.

They might search for strings such as “good low-cost italian food” or “restaurant romantic atmosphere” (it all depends on what specifically they need.

Now, it’s possible that previous customers will have coincidentally written about how the eatery offers “good low-cost italian food”, but it’s unlikely. To rank for those relevant terms, it’s necessary to write content optimized for SEO.

If you can have your target product show up as the top result for an actionable search, it’ll be in with a great chance of being selected even if isn’t particularly compelling outside of that particular situation.

For an example of how this can be done for a dry product, look at a company with a utility-based product range like Startech (see pictured above). No one looking for a monitor or hard drive docking station will buy on impulse; instead, they’ll search for queries like “how to choose a laptop dock” and look for expert guidance.

If you can write such a piece about frequently-asked questions regarding the type of product you’re trying to sell, you can bring in a lot of relevant traffic — and if you position your product links prominently, so much the better.

You can also record explanatory videos, taking advantage of the increased impact of video content. A product showcase delivered with aplomb can make even the most straightforward item seem significantly more exciting. This does require strong delivery (meaning someone who can confidently and competently present), but that can be cultivated through practice.

Package items into neat bundles

Let’s say you’re trying to sell a variety of dog grooming products. Maybe you have shampoo, a comb, some scissors, and some gloves, and not one of those items is selling in great numbers. Why not add them to a dog-grooming kit and knock 10% off the combined price? This might seem trivial when someone could easily buy them all together anyway, but it changes how they’re framed. A selection of unimpressive items can be more interesting as a bundle.

This is partially due to the quality being prioritized, because bundles are generally seen as being about convenience and frugality. In other words, if you’re not getting anywhere trying to offload a product as a high-quality item, you can reframe it as a budget buy (even if you don’t actually change the price that much). Bargain stores have done this for many years.

You can also bundle weaker sellers with popular products so the former can benefit from the success of the latter. You can do this from the outset and promote the resulting bundles, or you can make it a cross-selling tactic at the checkout stage.

In the Amazon example pictured above, when someone adds the popular product to their cart and heads to the checkout, they’ll encounter a suggestion to add some other items that are compatible with it or useful when deployed alongside it.

This can greatly help the weaker products. In addition to driving their sales (and pushing them up the list of best-selling products), it can increase the likelihood of them being featured in customer views. Someone who reviews a hit product but bought a less popular product with it might well opt to review the second product as well, giving it more exposure.

Create detailed brand profiles

So far we’ve looked at tactics for boosting the sales of particular products — but what about when you’re trying to build up the significance of certain brands? This can be hugely valuable in the event that an ecommerce seller reaches an exclusive deal with an ambiguous brand that has great products. They’ll want that brand to grow, because brand growth will make the seller look better and bring in more website visits in general.

A great way to build up a brand is to encourage the team behind it to show some personality. That’s what people look for in the brands they support, after all. Consumer ethics is firmly on the rise, for instance, and shoppers want to back brands that seem personable.

As they see it, companies that come across as robotic and apathetic are less likely to care about service. Take a look at the image above, taken from the About Us page for Firebox: doesn’t the text neatly convey the lighthearted approach to business?

Reaching out to a heavily-featured brand for an expansive interview can make various things clear: why the brand exists, what it aims to achieve, how the products were developed, etc. If it proves sufficiently interesting (and contains enough detail), people may well share it via social media, leading to a notable improvement in the brand’s reputation.

Note that you should also make it clear what your brand stands for. What is the purpose of your store? Why did you create it? What type of shopper do you intend to reach? How do you want to affect people’s lives? What level of customer satisfaction is enough for you? A seller doesn’t need a purpose beyond profit, but if you do have one then it will improve how people view you.

Wrapping up

Since it’s almost never viable to rely entirely on the rare attention-grabbing products, every online retailer needs to have a solid understanding of how to bolster the presentation of a range of utility-centric items.

Thankfully, the tactics we’ve looked at here will prove effective given sufficient commitment and patience.

What’s more, if you can consistently provide a superlative buying experience for your customers, you can build your brand into a hallmark of quality. That’s the goal of every ambitious online seller.

Once you’ve convinced people to trust your curation, you won’t need to put as much effort into showcasing specific products or brands. They’ll automatically benefit from the positive perception of your company.

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