Product Content Processes: Common Issues and 5 Ways to Improve

We’ve encountered thousands of pieces of product content over the past decade and more. A worrying number of them have least one of the following problems:

Common Issues

  1. Producing content from the start that meets retailer requirements means no more awkward image resizing for mobile.

    Designed product-first, and not customer first

  2. Designed without recognising the range of customer and retailer requirements that they need to meet

Content is often produced for packaging, advertising, launch materials, and brand websites. This content then has to be re-purposed for use in customer-facing situations, such as retailer websites. This can involve lengthy and costly processes to re-write copy and reformat images. More often than not, time and budget pressures mean that you end up with low-quality content that sits somewhere in-between. A square peg awkwardly hammered into a round hole.

But does it have to be this way? What if you were able to redesign your content process to be consumer-first, with an eye on retailer restrictions? What would that look like?

One of our clients recently asked us this very question. It’s one we’ve thought long and hard about over the years, so we were eager to discuss. To start the conversation, we brainstormed a set of 5 suggestions. Obviously, these won’t be for everyone, but hopefully, they might provide a spark for you to begin thinking about what improvements you could make.

5 Ways to Improve Your Product Content Process

  1. Start with the consumer. The cardinal rule of product content. If it’s not offering anything of value to the consumer, it has no place in your product content. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of simply ticking boxes and filling retailer requirements. If the journey doesn’t begin with you understanding who your consumers are, what their needs are, and how best to fulfil them, then your content isn’t going to work.
  2. Recognise the range of retailer requirements. Understand what the extremes are, and try to design content that meets as many of these as possible. Changing content at a later stage in the process costs money, and often shifts it from your initial consumer focus. Anything you can do to avoid that via planning will be worthwhile.
  3. It’s always easier to crop than stretch; It’s always easier to compress than expand. Make sure you’re producing assets that do more than meet the minimum requirements. If you need to make changes, it’s always easier to cut back than fill empty space. Stretching content too thinly will result in lower quality, or pages stuffed full of filler.
  4. Consider making your content modular.  Create self-contained copy, images and features that can be added, removed and reorganised to fill specific retailer needs. Consider having common copy & images to describe features that are present in multiple products. Look into ways to automatically organise and populate this content to all relevant products.
  5. Find a balance.  The best possible product copy would be created bespoke in every language by a native-speaking product director with a clear grasp of your brand’s guidelines. There are (unsuprisingly) very few vendors who are able to do this. However, there is value in trying to avoid generic and lifeless product content as much as possible within your budget. Try to find a sweet spot by focusing on “hero” items and high-profile products. This allows you room to make efficiencies on accessory/lower tier products while still maintaining full coverage.

Next Steps

Hopefully, these suggestions will have got you thinking about ways to improve your own processes. To hear our full recommendations and how we can help you to achieve them, visit our Contact Us page.

 

Premium A+ Modules and Mobile Display: Part 4

Selecting a feature displays the tooltip explainer at the top of the table.

This week, we’ve been looking into examples of the new Premium A+ Modules on Amazon.com. We’ve been comparing their desktop and mobile versions, and trying to understand what their potential impact will be in the Amazon EU locales. Today, we’re going to be looking at a few of the other modules on offer in the EU. We’ll be highlighting what features might be available and how they display on mobile devices.

Samsung UN65KS9500 Curved 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV

 

Module 6: Comparison Table A

Desktop

 

Of all the new comparison tables launched, this one is the most similar to the current comparison table standard. It expands upon the original by allowing up to 7 products and 12 features, utilising a horizontal scroll to allow for easy comparison with the current product.

However, some vendors may find this version to be less flexible than the original. Every section comes with an associated character limit, with each feature and detail only allowing 30 characters.. This might hamper those who wish to include features with lengthy technical names. There’s also a hard lower limit of 4 products and 5 features. This seems specifically designed to prevent some of the more creative uses of comparison tables we’ve seen in the past.

 

The “Shop” buttons link to Amazon search queries, surfacing a list of multiple products with a single click

OtterBox DEFENDER iPhone 6/6s Case

 

Module 5: Carousel

 

We wanted to highlight this specific module because of the buttons that are included at the bottom of each image: “Shop Samsung”, “Shop Apple”, etc.

These link through to an Amazon search query, allowing the vendor to drive traffic to either a curated list of products, or organic search results regulated by a set of filters. A+ links have previously been restricted to single ASIN detail pages, so this is an interesting example. Hopefully this may herald a partial relaxation of those restrictions.

Premium A+ Modules and Mobile Display: Part 3

How the Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Premium A+ displays on a desktop

In our previous posts, we’ve been looking at how the new Amazon.com Premium A+ Modules display on both desktop and mobile platforms, to try to understand what this will mean for the Amazon EU locales when these new features are widely rolled out to all vendors/countries. In this small study, we’re going to be looking at the content displayed on the popular Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) high-end headphones.

Module 5: Full Background Image with Text

Very similar to Module 1 both on desktop and mobile, but without the image-distortion issue.

Module 6: Banner

 

Desktop

This one is a little different. Essentially, it’s just a Banner image (with the content left-aligned), and a textbox overlaid on the right. Unlike the previous banners, this one only features a header in a narrower area, and the image is 700px high.

Mobile

Bit of an odd choice display choice with this one. The text is presented above the image, in a different font and centre aligned. This gives it the effect of looking out-of-place when compared to the other elements on the pages. This is further reinforced as both this and Module 5 have a white background, in contrast to the others.

It’s worth noting that this module is another that does not directly align with the current EU Premium A+ Module portfolio. It’s possible that this may have been a test, or maybe something that will be available at a later date.

 

Module 7 – the comparison table is a great adaptation of the desktop version to fit a mobile screen

Module 7: Comparison Table C

 

Desktop

This is the one of the three new Premium A+ implementations of the comparison table. It’s much more graphical and less cluttered than the previous incarnation. The trade-off is that it only allows a customer to compare the current product with a single alternative at a time, rather than being able to see a whole upsell range at a glance.

Mobile

Of all the mobile implementations, this is the one that makes the most sense. Changes in the layout have been made, most notably that you can only see the features for one product at a time. But the way it’s been done is stylistically consistent with both the desktop layout and the other mobile modules. It’s clear and easy to understand, and seems to load/perform very smoothly.

Premium A+ Modules and Mobile Display: Part 2

In our previous post, we started to look at how the new Amazon.com Premium A+ Modules display on both desktop and mobile platforms, to try to understand what this will mean for the Amazon EU locales when these new features are widely rolled out to all vendors/countries.

Module 3 – this module is wider than the others when displayed on a mobile device.

Amazon.com Premium A+

Premium A+ pages, much like most new elements launched by Amazon, came to their US markets before their European launch, starting last year. Although not in widespread use, we’ve seen them appear on many high-profile products from larger vendors, and are distinct from the custom detail pages that Amazon had previously offered at the highest tier. In this small study, we’re going to be looking at the content displayed on the popular Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) high-end headphones.

Module 3: Image Carousel

 

Desktop

Simple landscape image carousel with arrows either side to scroll. This example shows 4 images in total and all are sized to fit with the 1464 x 600 px standard set by the first module. These images are very wide, so there’s now a need to have multiple assets that either are or can be appropriately cropped to fit that display ratio.

Mobile

From what we’ve seen, the alignment of the mobile version of this gallery is a little off. It’s wider than the preceding modules, so it sticks out like a sore thumb. Much like the banner, the images themselves show more height than is displayed in desktop mode, but have been narrowed. Thankfully, unlike the banner, these images aren’t distorted.

This may play into why this version doesn’t seem to be included in the current collection of Premium A+ modules. At the moment in the EU, only a standard carousel is available, and that requires narrower images to be uploaded separately for mobile. It’s possible that this example is either a test or a module that has been depreciated before the EU launch.

 

Module 4: Hotspots A

 

Module 4 – the text box and imagery fails to highlight the product features in an attractive way

Desktop

An image map, with five animated hotspots highlighting product features and displaying relevant text when the cursor moves over them.

Mobile

Without the screen space to allow users to easily select the highlight points on the image, implementing this kind of image map in mobile was always going to be challenging. The solution they’ve settled on is to surface the content is an auto-carousel. This displays five images of the product, each one overlaid with one of the feature paragraphs from the original image map.

There’s a few problems with this. Firstly, the auto-carousel seems to begin when the element loads, which means it’s possible for the animation to end before the user gets to view it. A minor issue, but its compounded by the lack of any visual UI elements to make the user aware that this element can be scrolled horizontally back and forth. Add in the fact that a user scrolling down the page can stop the auto-carousel with accidental finger placement, and there is a risk that many customers will miss out on seeing all but one of these features.

Although there are five features to display, this element only shows 3 (very similar) images that don’t do a good job of highlighting the product benefits. It seems like additional images for the mobile version of an image map are a requirement, and for this product they were lacking.

 

Join us tomorrow when we’ll continue our study of the new Premium A+ modules on Amazon.com.

 

Amazon Mobile App: Content Problems for Smaller Screens

Screenshot of Toshiba A+ on Amazon mobile browserWhen the Amazon A+ 2.0 system was rolled out, one of the touted benefits was better optimisation for mobile platforms. This wasn’t really a surprise – for years Amazon’s patchy implementation of A+ for mobile browsers and its own app has a thorn in the side for brands hoping to get their richer content in front of as many consumer eyeballs as possible. A+ has never been cheap, and with the number of us using our smartphones to shop rising year on year, this was increasingly looking like a missed opportunity for retailer and vendors alike.

Recent studies have shown that almost 80% of consumers are using smartphones to do in-store product research* when shopping for appliances. Amazon is also estimated to be currently lagging behind eBay in mobile purchases.comScore mobile reach research for UK online retailers

Sadly, the new system has taken some time to make good on these promises. Until recently, all you could count on seeing on your smartphone was a page of badly formatted text, with the occasional out-of-place image if you were lucky.

AScreenshot of Toshiba A+ on Amazon Mobile Android Appmazon Mobile Android App, iPhone App, and Mobile Browsers

However, when the system was recently updated with a set of fixes, one of the tweaks was focused on mobile. Now, on both the Android Amazon mobile app and on mobile browsers, you should stand a good chance of seeing all the content that’s available on desktop/laptop screens.

Granted, there’s nothing particularly special on show. Whatever orientation your device is in, you’ll only get a single column which simplifies the layout of the A+ down to an image-text-image-text format. However, the order is logical, headers and subtitles are clearly defined, and the spacing makes it readable, even on a cramped screen. Some of the design elements even make it through the transition, like breakout boxes and bulleted lists.

There’s also a consistency to how detail pages now display in browser and app which is a nice and long-awaited touch. As you can see from the screenshots, tScreenshot of Toshiba A+ on Amazon Mobile Android Apphere’s really no difference between the two platforms now.

iPad App and Windows Mobile App

However, all is not quite as rosy as it seems. When looking at products on an iPad or Windows device, the Amazon app is still not showing the new A+ content. Checking with colleagues, I’ve found the same thing on other iPad devices, but the iPhone App seems to display the content fine. Hopefully this is just a case of the iPad app version being slightly behind the curve, but we’ll keep an eye on it and update this post as and when changes happen.

*(Source: Deloitte, December 2013)