The quality and completeness of product information across industries and retail channels can significantly impact online sales and brand trust, according to a Shotfarm survey of 1,542 consumers.
The report found the impact of poor product information on digital sales is most readily apparent in three areas, including returns, brand trust, and shopping cart abandonment.
Forty percent of consumers have returned an online purchase in the past year specifically because of poor product information, according to the survey.
"Clearly, nothing directly impacts brand equity and trust like a product that doesn’t meet expectations," Mike Lapchick, CEO of Shotfarm, told eWEEK. "This goes to show that retailers simply can’t afford the content management and distribution inefficiencies that lead to inaccurate product information. A single negative experience can result in long-term damage to the relationship between the brand and the customer."
The most returns come in the clothing and apparel category, where one in four consumers has returned an item due to inaccurate product information.
The vast majority (86 percent) of those surveyed said they would be unlikely or very unlikely to make a repeat purchase with a retailer that provided inaccurate product information, and just 13 percent of consumers would likely shop with that same retailer again.
More than 90 percent of consumers have abandoned an online shopping cart, citing cost (61 percent), delivery time (33 percent), and poor product descriptions (30 percent) as the top three reasons for doing so.
In addition, more than a quarter of consumers have left their purchases behind due to the absence of quality images and product reviews.
The survey indicated online consumers seek out the best and most complete product information available prior to making purchase decisions and will readily move between manufacturer and retailer websites to find it.
Those offering the most compelling, engaging, and complete content are viewed as the most trustworthy by shoppers and will be rewarded by repeat purchases, lower levels of returns, and long-term loyalty.
"There are few companies with worse product information practices than Amazon. Sellers can pose as brands, game search results and are free to upload inaccurate and incomplete product information," Lapchick said. "It used to be that any gap in confidence could be either closed or confirmed by their reviews which I had always considered to be Amazon’s second most valuable asset."
He said that unfortunately, allowing the buying of positive reviews in exchange for free products has completely devalued that asset, leaving little comfort for the consumer.