How homepage prioritisation can inhibit commercial impact

Category: Brands
How homepage prioritisation can inhibit commercial impact

Tony Preedy, managing director at Fruugo, discusses how retailers who overemphasise the importance of their online homepage may be placing a barrier on their overall commercial impact. Tony argues that retailers focusing on their homepage content has become overemphasised and that, generally, the amount of focus it gets is disproportionate to the commercial impact.

One of the most important aspects of retail design and visual merchandising strategies for brick-and-mortar stores is a striking window display of their best product offerings. This plays a key role in capturing the attention of high-street shoppers and welcoming more footfall.

As ecommerce has become much more prominent, retailers have incorporated this strategy into their online channels; the homepage has become the modern-day window display. However, the time and effort spent on painstakingly embellishing homepage content could and should be diverted elsewhere.

Honing homepage content

Currently, retailers – especially ones with a physical presence who have transitioned online – perceive the homepage to be the key draw for customers to their platform. Many brands also trade on image, so they carefully curate the appearance of the homepage as an expression of the brand’s personality.

As a result, deciding which products are featured on the homepage can often become political as each sector of the business wants results that will benefit their team. For example, the buying department may want the homepage to showcase the newest products from key suppliers. Meanwhile, the digital marketing team may wish to highlight the products that receive the highest audience engagement.

The problem with this approach though, is that a high proportion of retailers’ online traffic never lands on the homepage.

A shifting paradigm of purchasing habits

Indeed, purchasing journeys have changed and this should make homepage curation a lower priority for online sellers. Traditionally, consumers used to be more loyal to their favourite brands and tended to browse their websites when shopping, in a similar way to how they would in a physical store. With this style of shopping, the homepage would have been the first page they landed on in most cases.

However, the boom of ecommerce has made consumers ambivalent about where they buy from. They now start their shopping by looking for solutions to specific needs via search engines and compare the top listings in the results.

From there, buyers are directed straight to category and product pages, completely bypassing the homepage. Therefore, spending time and resources on optimising the homepage ends up being a distraction from what really makes the difference to driving sales.  

To deliver high commercial impact, online retailers need to move away from the high-street homepage strategy and consider ways to improve the quality of their product pages and drive more traffic to them.

Perfecting the product page  

In this modern era of item-level shopping via online search, the importance of optimising product pages with the right keywords and visuals, cannot be stressed enough. Whether they are listing products on marketplaces or their own websites, sellers need their products to feature as high up in the search results as possible, so that buyers can discover them.

What’s more, with shoppers now landing on websites that aren’t always brands they have heard of, sellers need to work harder to attract their attention and gain trust quickly.

With this in mind, retailers need to identify the keywords that align most with the product and that consumers are using in their searches. Including these terms in the product title and description will boost the products’ rankings in search results, making them easier to find. To capture the attention of the audience, the page also needs to be clear and concise, with quality descriptions of the product’s features, benefits, specifications, and usage instructions.

Most shoppers who are browsing online will also be influenced by visual appearance, so retailers should add a large selection of high-resolution imagery of the product in use. Value and availability are two other key priorities for the modern-day consumer, so retailers must ensure they clearly outline delivery timings and competitive pricing within the product page.

Building a product page for multiple platforms

By building a strong product page with quality imagery and keyword descriptions, products will feature higher up in search engine rankings and retailers will benefit from increased footfall to their platform.

To generate even more traffic, retailers should consider selling on multiple channels, such as cross-border marketplaces, which will boost the reach and visibility of their products to international audiences.

Marketplaces’ algorithms scan the universe of shoppers for opportunities to match global demand to supply. And, once sellers are set up, these platforms take on much of the hard work of online selling, so all retailers need to do is ship the products to the customer. Plus, some of them work on a no-sale, no-fee basis, so sellers can generate incremental sales with zero risk.

Ultimately, for retailers to drive sales and increase brand awareness, they should move their time and resources away from perfecting the homepage, and instead focus on building a goldmine of quality product content that can be displayed across multiple channels as well as their own website.

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