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What quick wins can you make to improve online product content?

By Dave Howard

Once a shopper has discovered your product, they need to be immediately presented with accurate, complete product information which will encourage the purchase of the product.

Just as there is an overall hierarchy for improving ecommerce performance, there is also a hierarchy which can be used to understand how to improve product Representation online:

  • name (brand and product name)
  • images and videos
  • product description

How a product is described online is the second biggest influence on a shopper’s choice of item. Some 91 percent of online shoppers think it’s ‘important’ or ‘very important’ for retailers to offer in-depth product information online, and accurate product content increases sales by 30 percent (Econsultancy).

Despite its importance, manufacturers struggle to control and manage how their products are described on a retailer’s website. Inaccurate product information, out of date images, poor grammar, spelling mistakes and numerous other errors are obstacles that interrupt, and, at worse, terminate, a shopper’s path to purchase.

Standardisation is still a work in progress, with retailers sometimes providing inconsistent information about the same brand and similar products online. That lack of standardisation can damage a retailer’s ecommerce efforts. When a shopper has a hard time finding a product in a bricks and mortar store, it can breed frustration and result in a lost sale. That frustration can also manifest itself online, when websites show multiple results for similar products, all with completely different names and descriptions.

Retailers adopt different approaches when it comes to populating product content across their sites.

Brand and Product Name Representation

There are several elements to be considered when optimising a product name. It needs to not only include the actual product name, but also the brand name, and ideally the category identifier, as well as key product information, such as pack size or flavour. 

It may seem like an obvious starting point, but the brand name should be spelt correctly in the product listing. For numerous reasons, from human error to odd abbreviations, many brands are inaccurately represented online.

In November 2016, Hershey’s Kisses Milk Chocolate with Almonds was missing the brand name on Fairway Market site on Instacart. This impacted Discoverability – as a result of the missing brand name in the product name, the product did not return if a shopper searched for ‘Hershey’s’ or ‘Hersheys’ on the website.

hersheys-kisses fairway market instacart
Missing brand name ‘Hershey’s’, Fairway Market store on Instacart, November 2016


There are many similar instances of missing brand names in product names across grocery retailer websites. In November 2016, a listing of Kellogg’s Special K Red Velvet Pastry Crisps was missing the sub-brand name, ‘Special K’ in the product name on Target’s website. The omission of “Hershey’s” and “Special K” called into question the authenticity of the products, potentially confused shoppers and ultimately may have resulted in lost sales.


It is important to include a product description to outline the key features and components of a product. Having a clear, comprehensive and easy to understand product description is vital, especially for electronic goods and more expensive purchases.

In the General Merchandise marketplace, the product description is a key component in influencing a shopper’s decision. Although full product descriptions are sometimes lengthy, it is important for manufacturers to ensure that retailers include the full description in their listings. Shoppers may be searching for a specific phrase or feature in a product description, and if it is not present then a sale may be lost.

In November 2016, the LEGO Minecraft The Fortress SKU was missing a product description on The Entertainer website. Similarly, the LG SH5 2 1CH 320W Wireless Subwoofer on the Argos website was missing a product description. The missing product descriptions for these products will inevitably impact upon sales – a shopper may be persuaded to purchase a competitor brand’s product which features a comprehensive description or they may visit another retailer’s website to view a full description for the product. Either way, the brand or retailer may lose a sale, due to the incomplete product content listed on the website.

Missing product descriptions:  LEGO Minecraft The Fortress on TheToyshop.com and LG Wireless Subwoofer on Argos.com, November 2016


How can product Representation be monitored?

In the Health & Beauty and Grocery industries product data is often delivered to retailers by data content providers such as Brandbank or Salsify. This content is shared with each of the main retailers; ensuring that content is correct is a crucial starting point in establishing whether your product is being described correctly and uniformly across the market.

It is important to monitor the content held by Brandbank, Salsify or any other third party brand content provider in parallel to online product descriptions.

It is common for mistakes to automatically feed through to retailers’ websites. For example, a brand content error meant that a Ferrero product was incorrectly described as “crispy water” rather than “crispy wafer” across Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda websites. Other third party content providers may be responsible for digitising your pack – monitoring the quality and accuracy of your pack content and labelling is important. Is the description still relevant and comprehensible without the supporting packaging/pack imagery?

Manufacturers must also be aware of the character limits retailers place on product names. For example, if a retailer can only display 42 characters and your product name exceeds that number then the retailer will either abbreviate some words or leave some out altogether.

Brands also need to understand how retailers update their product content. In our experience some retailers simply copy the product description from the new item form, however the form details may have been scoped and produced long before online product names and naming conventions were a consideration.

Some retailers use the images provided by third party content providers and rewrite product descriptions to ensure it meets their preferred language and style, and is SEO compliant in terms of their websites.

It is therefore important for manufacturers to check all relevant keywords and phrases are included in these product descriptions.

Quick wins – Representation

  • Police brand name, product name and key product information
  • Monitor your product content databases in conjunction with retailer websites
  • Ensure product name is compliant to retailers character limits
  • Work with retailers to include full product descriptions on all listings
  • Provide clear, consistent, and correct product imagery

To find out more about how optimising product content can directly impact upon Discoverability of products, and shopper Engagement, and in turn increase sales, download the Brand View Whitepaper for free today!