Image Source: WiseGeek
Amidst all the complexities involved in running an Online Fashion Store, retailers tend to forget that at the end of the day it’s about selling. They spend money on inventory, building a website, fulfillment and marketing to bring people to their website, only to show them products with cookie-cutter descriptions. Gone are the days when a visitor would order from a website for convenience and lack of choice. With thousands of new e-commerce website popping everyday, customers today are rather spoiled for choice. If you don’t do a good job in describing your product, somebody else will. That’s why I get surprised when I see retailers who’re more worried about the color of the ‘Add to Cart’ button than the product description.
The reason why product descriptions are so often ignored and not always up to the mark on online stores is because:
- Their inventory is too big
- They don’t have the marketing budget to write high quality product descriptions
- They decide to go with the default product description provided by the supplier
- They hire a copywriter who doesn’t have experience in writing for Fashion
- The product descriptions are written to influence search engines, not the customers, etc
The good thing is that with increasing maturity of Social Media as a marketing channel, you no longer have to write spammy product descriptions to seduce Google. Rather, you can now focus on product descriptions to communicate the product’s value and story behind the product to your customer. Now, let’s get down to business. What it takes to write product descriptions that sell? [hr]
1) Get emotional about your Product Description Copy
Another reason why product descriptions are ignored by retailers is because there is no human touch involved in an e-commerce transaction. But customers want an emotional connection. They want to be able to connect with the product, brand and what’s behind the promise. Imagine yourself standing in a physical store at a shopping mall, pitching your products to a customer who has just walked in to the showroom. When you’re in direct contact with your customer, the stakes become higher, you’re more attentive and your margin for error becomes smaller because you not only fear sounding indifferent, ignorant and lazy but also you want to see the customer walking out of the door with shopping bags full of your products. You will not let them wander around in the showroom hoping they would buy. Whereas in e-commerce situation, retailers tend to play the number game – show a product to 100 visitors, one will buy. This is not how great e-commerce businesses are built. I bet you would feel shattered if you attend 100 customers in a physical store and convert only one of them. Start feeling the pain and train your brain to see visitor as a real person walking into your showroom and you’re talking to them. You should always look to build an emotional connection between the brand, product and the customer.
2) Write like you’re talking to your ideal customer
When you write product descriptions to please everyone, you will end-up pleasing no one. Know who your ideal customer is, write to him or her. The product descriptions that your customers will read are actually the ones that address them directly and personally. Again, imagine they have walked into your physical store and you’re selling them your product face-to-face.
3) Keep the product title concise
Use the title to tell your customers in simple words, what is it that you’re selling? Use basic words that your target audience will understand. Avoid using Jargons in the product name / title as far as possible. Don’t call your product something that only you can understand. Having said that, you can use fashion lingo in your product descriptions.
4) Entice with benefits, not specifications
Even though product specifications are extremely important, the problem with focusing on specifications is that your potential buyers are not so interested in mundane features and specs. They want to know what’s in it for them. How will it make them feel? How will it make them look? It’s more important for them than the specifications.
5) Don’t praise, let them decide
What is your response when a salesman comes up to you and says – ‘Excellent Product Quality’. You say to yourself – “OK OK, That’s what everyone says!”.
Self praising phrases like ‘excellent’ can make your customer feel that you’re doubting their intelligence in a way that they don’t have the ability to judge the product. Avoid using such self praising phrases and allow your customer to judge the quality themselves from the product pictures and adjectives in your product description.
6) Remember the personality of your brand
While you dazzle your customers with vivid product descriptions, mind the tone of your voice. Always remember the personality of your brand. Do you want to sound – Sexy, Naughty, Polite, Stern, Classy, Royal, Nasty, Old, Strict, Young, Funny, Deadpan or Serious? For example, if you want your brand to be projected as fun, you should look to engage readers with such a personality and a dash of humor. And then say “It’s fun”, let the product picture and words say that. This personality should be reflected in all your product descriptions.
7) Make your product descriptions scan friendly
Majority of people on the Internet (studies suggest more than 79%) scan through the text; Only 16 percent actually read it closely [Jakob Nielsen and Carol Pernice (2008)]. And It takes them 25% longer to read something on a computer than it does to read something on paper (Cameron, 2008).
What they do is they look at your product picture and scan your product description in order to decide whether they want to read the complete description. Thus, before making your product description reader friendly, you must structure product description in a way that it’s easy to scan first.
Here are few tips for making for product description scan friendly:
- Write short, enticing and easy to understand product names
- Use bullet points for technical specifications
- Ensure lot of white space within the copy
- Keep your product descriptions concise
- Use an easily readable font size
- Show a small 2 line description below the product name and the detailed description below the fold on the product page
8) Avoid making product specifications sound too technical
Do you know you are legally required to mention the country of origin and fiber content on your product page? (although only few retailers do it).
Product Specifications typically include:
- Product type (jacket, bag, dress)
- Product styling (pea coat, hobo, A-line)
- Fiber content
- Fabric type or finish if important [woven, print, stripes, plaids, velvet, jacquard etc]
- Closure (zippers, buttons, elastic etc)
- Size range
- Country of origin (COO)
- Care Instructions
But again it’s important that you put the benefits first and technical specifications of the product should to be communicated in an easy to understand language.
Technical specifications are an important part of your product page copy. Not only they help the customers in making an informed buying decision, including technical specifications also helps your customers in their product search, if they enter very specific search queries in your website’s product search.
9) Maintain a consistent length of description
For sake of providing a consistent user experience, keep the length and amount of data in the product descriptions consistent across the category. If one product is too lengthy and the other product in the same category has a smaller description, your customers may feel that it’s not explained well. Thus, it’s important that you maintain consistent amount of text in all your product descriptions.
10) Use beautiful adjectives to describe the product
Adjectives can be used to create colorful phrases of expression. While your customers can not touch and feel the product, adjectives can help them imagine the product. How does the clothing or accessory look? How would it look on the customer? How would it feel to wear it? With right use of adjectives, you can dramatically influence the customer’s desire to purchase your products. These adjectives are secret codes that can seal the deal for you instantly.
For example, to show a bridal dress on your product page, you can use words like elegant, romantic, alluring, nostalgic, radiant etc. Since these are words that a woman buying a bridal dress would want to hear, the likelihood that the customer will buy the dress become a lot higher.
[quote]Thus, it’s even safe to say that by identifying the adjectives that are most likely touch the senses of your customers and influence their buying decision; using those adjectives in your product copy can help you increase the conversion rate of your website.[/quote]
One important rule though to follow while using adjectives in your product description is that you must put opinions before facts.
- Opinion: a lovely, a stylish
- Fact: blue, cotton
- Noun: dress, shirt
Common adjectives and catch phrases used by top Fashion Retailers
Here are some examples of commonly used sensory phrases and adjectives used by the editors of top retailers and fashion magazines:
- Ageless beauty
- Boho chic
- Chic (it means ‘fashionable’, ‘stylish,’ but it sounds better because it’s a French word!)
- Classics (always fashionable/stylish)
- Country chic
- Escuela de calor
- Fabulous at every age
- Face to face
- Fashion fix
- Fave (Informal, slang, short for ‘favourite’)
- Femme fatale
- Flower party
- From Paris/Russia with love
- Iconic (famous, memorable, representing a certain time and place)
- It girl
- Jet set
- Key pieces
- L’enfant terrible
- Licence to (…)
- Lo último
- Made in (…)
- Material girl
- Mix & Match
- Most wanted
- Perfect match
- Power dressing
- Risky business
- Sin complejos
- Smart shopping
- Sport chic
- star is born
- Techno fashion
- The …… of the moment
- The new Audrey Hepburn
- The new black
- The next Brigitte Bardot
- The next Kate Moss
- The next Marilyn Monroe
- The show must go on
- Timeless (something that’s beautiful irrespective of age and current trends)
- Très belle
- Très chic
- Uptown girl
- Work the (+ a trend)
- Working girl
- Zoom etc
11) Familiarize yourself with the Fashion Lingo
Not every fashion retailer or a copywriter has a background in fashion. But if you’re projecting yourself as a high fashion brand, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with the fashion lingo. Here are some of the commonly used fashion lingos in the Fashion industry:
- Haute couture: Haute couture is a French term that describes high fashion. If an item is characterized as “haute couture,” it means that it’s custom-made. Haute couture connotes exclusivity, and one-of-a-kind clothes made from the finest quality materials that usually cost more than $10,000. You know, the kind of threads celebrities wear to upscale events like awards shows and movie premieres.
- Prêt-à-porter: Prêt-à-porter is French for ready-to-wear , and is used to describe high-end designer wear. However, unlike haute couture, prêt-à-porter clothing isn’t one of a kind. Prêt-à-porter clothing is pricey and you’ll find it off the rack at high-end department stores and boutiques. Examples of popular prêt-à-porter designers include Jean-Paul Gaultier, Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci (FYI: these designers also have haute couture collections).
- Faux pas: A faux pas is a blunder that can occur in social settings, as well as in fashion. In other words, it’s an error in (style) judgment that should be avoided at all cost. Common fashion faux pas include wearing white socks with dark trousers and wearing sunglasses indoors.
- Glitterati: Glitterati is a term used to describe a crowd of attractive people who tend to be well-dressed, usually referred to as the elite.
- Très chic: Très chic means very fashionable; it’s usually used to describe a specific item, like a suit, for example, or as a compliment for a place or an event.
- Pièce de résistance: In food lingo, plat de résistance means main dish. In fashion, pièce de résistance is used to describe an important item, whether it’s a must-have item of the season or an item that stands out from an ensemble.
- Du jour: If it’s an item du jour , that means it’s ultra trendy.
- Passé: The term passé is used to describe something that was once in style (see du jour ), but no longer is; basically, it’s a thing of the past.
- Old-school: The term old-school is used to describe a fashion item that has a retro, vintage or classic look. A lot of old-school athletic wear (i.e. from the ’70s and ’80s) such as sneakers, tracksuits and T-shirts have been making a comeback.
- Trailor/Homeless Chic: Thrown together baggy clothing, with big bead necklaces and big bags, al la Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen.
- The Russe: Russian Look, lavish embroidery, a dash of military pomp and, fur hat glamour
- Scene: Contrasted hair color (black and blonde), long for boys, (usually) short for girls, jaggedly cut and straightened. Piercings and skinny pants.
- Emo: Thick rimmed glasses, tight pants and thrifted or band t shirts
- Skater: The skater look is characterized by strategic layering (such as long- and short-sleeve Ts), baggy pants, sneakers (more specifically, skater shoes), and grungy accessories like necklaces and heavy chains (especially around the neck and dangling from pockets).
- Preppy: The preppy style is the typical fraternity/country club look that was huge in the late ’70s and early ’80s, and has since remained a classic. Sometimes it is even combined with other styles to form a hybrid fashion look. Preppy staples include plaid shirts, polos, khakis, and penny loafers.
- Goth: The goth (or gothic) look involves wearing black from head to toe. Goths also tend to favor pale complexions and edgy, “tough” accessories. Think Marilyn Manson.
- Eclectic: Combination of sources/styles, variety/wide range
- Opulence: luxury
- Trainers: The word trainers is used to describe trendy athletic shoes and sneakers, often referred to as lifestyle shoes.
- Bootleg: Bootleg pants (usually used when referring to jeans) are slightly flared from the knee to the ankle, and as result, offer a great fit when worn with most shoes.
- Cargo: Cargos refer to pants that feature pockets on the side of the legs, at the mid-thigh level. Originating from military gear, cargo pants and shorts are now a big part of mainstream fashion.
- Wife beater: A beater , also known as a wife beater , refers to a thinly ribbed tank top. They started out as simple undershirts for men, but have since become increasingly popular among young hipsters.
- Hoodie: hoodie is used to describe any hooded top: sweatshirt, jacket or T-shirt.
- Gauchos: Short/ ¾ length pants that are usually wider as they go down
- Bolero/Shrug: Shirts that end usually a little below the bust
- Skinny pants: Tight pants that do not flair out
- Tunics: A long shirt, almost like a dress, usually worn over pants
- Flats: Any flat type shoe, often ballet style
- Heels/Stilettos/Pumps: Any high heeled shoe
- Bling bling: Bling bling is used to describe flashy jewelry, which usually consists of diamonds and other precious stones and metals.
- Trucker hat: A trucker hat is essentially a baseball cap that features a higher crown (the top part) and a mesh back.
Source: The Fashion Spot
12) Stay on top of the trends
To inject seasonal inspiration into your copy and to project the product as in-vogue, you and your copywriters should keep reading the latest fashion magazines, research trends to stay on top of the trends. This will help you marry your product copy with the new trends you discover.
[quote]Each time there is a new collection, you can even create standardized boilerplate language for key looks you have just discovered that can be used throughout multiple product categories.[/quote]
13) Check your copy for these 4 C’s
So how does a perfect product description look like? Here is a simple set of criteria to evaluate your product description?
After you write the copy, just ask yourself the following questions:
- Clear: Is the overall meaning of description clear? Or is it obscure? Does it communicate what the real essence of the product?
- Captivating: Will the words captivate and seduce the senses of your customer?
- Concise: Are there too many, too few, or just enough words to communicate the intended message and emotion?
- Complete: Does description complete the product image? In other words, is the description able to communicate what can’t be seen from the product image?
I hope you find these copywriting tips useful. Do you have any other tips to share on writing high quality product descriptions?
Why hire generic copywriters? If you work with I Love Fashion Retail, you’ll work with Fashion Copywriters with years of experience in Ecommerce. Result: Awesomeness.