Snapshot : Here we look at what it’s like to buy the world’s biggest soft-drink, Coca-Cola online in Australia. We’re looking for lessons of what a successful product page can look like.
In our guide to getting started with e-Commerce, we cover the three fundamental areas that you need on the product page to sell in e-Commerce – imagery, the product name and the product description. But these are only the start of what makes a successful product page. So, this week we’re going online to look at a couple of live examples to see what we can learn from manufacturers and online retailers.
We’ll be focusing on regular purchases and ignoring the impact of any sales promotion activity, with we’ll cover in another post.
Let’s have a Coke … online
For our first test, we will focus on Coca-Cola.
Well, obviously it’s one of the world’s most ubiquitous products and it’s widely available in both traditional and online channels. And it does have a reputation as a business for being innovative and willing to experiment and try new things.
It’s also an interesting brand to consider from an online and e-Commerce point of view.
Firstly, because it’s a low value per purchase, a relatively heavy item and widely available everywhere. This essentially would make it tough to drive Direct-to-Consumer sales of Coke. What would be the benefit for the consumer? Though you can find some wholesale options to buy Coke direct online, their focus is more to secure their share of sales through other online retail channels.
We also know that globally and in Australia, they employ dedicated e-Commerce teams who manage their presence with online retailers. They invest in the online channel. Not every brand does this.
And finally, because it’s often an impulse driven purchase, and that’s quite a hard need to satisfy online. You need the product to be widely available geographically so that’s it’s never far from where an order is placed. And you need a delivery system that can quickly respond to an order and deliver the product.
Impulse shopping online
For Coca-Cola, this either means tapping in to a food delivery system like Uber Eats or local specialised delivery companies. In our area of Sydney, this would be Jimmy Brings, but you can find equivalent versions in most big cities.
But if you search on Uber Eats for Coca-Cola, your can only satisfy your impulse need for Coca-Cola through third-party restaurants.
So, your Pizza Huts, Subways and Hungry Jacks are your best way to get Coca-Cola through Uber Eats.
Or, when you don’t want food, you can use a company like Jimmy Brings. They mainly focus on alcohol, but add mixers including Coca-Cola in to their delivery options.
But in the case of this company, the range available is only two SKUs. There’s no can options and nothing very detailed about the product when you click on it.
We’re pretty certain this company only include Coca-Cola as a convenience to their customers. From the fact they only carry two skas, it’s unlikely to be a very profitable part of their business.
Grocery shopping online
Which brings us to the more likely scenario where you would buy Coca-Cola online. And that’s as part of your regular grocery shop.
This is where Coke is part of your regular routine and you have a stock in the fridge to tap into. If you did want to buy a larger stock of Coke, this is where you’d go. So, let’s look at three examples and see what the experience of buying a Coke is like in online grocery in Australia.
Let’s start with Woolworths.
Well, first off the good news, there’s imagery, the brand name and product descriptor right up front. In fact, they have five images available including the front, side and top of pack.
The images are a little uninspiring from a consumer point of view, but they are functional. Especially when you throw in an image of the nutrient label and one solitary lifestyle image of a consumer holding the can.
But here’s the thing if you click on the link and scroll down the page.
You’ll get ingredients, allergen, nutritional information and product warnings. Plus a big disclaimer and a selection of Also Viewed / Also Bought products.
And that’s about it.
Now, let’s look at Coles
If we look at the same pack available in Coles, the first thing that jumps out is the difference in price. There’s a whopping $14.60 saving as the product is on special at the time we went on site.
But get over that, what you’ll find is a single solitary image of the box with a can.
You’ll find pretty much the same product description that you find on the Woolworths site. (This is because they most likely pull from the same product information system in the background).
And there’s a little bit of nutritional information and again another disclaimer. (We would say retailers seem to like disclaimers, but we know it’s actually because they are scared of complaints and legal actions. They find themselves forced to put these disclaimers in to protect themselves).
But that’s pretty much all you get out of Coles.
And finally, Amazon
And then finally, let’s look at Coke on Amazon Australia site.
Here we get six images, including a quality image of the nutritional label and three more lifestyle looking shots.
But what’s this?
Here we also have product ratings. We get a FREE delivery order. There’s the same(ish) product description but also a subscription delivery option. This option even asks how often you want the delivery. Clever stuff.
On that same page, if you scroll down, you’ll also find more product details, frequently bought and viewed items, another disclaimer (!), but also images and a video from Coca-Cola, a Q and A section, more details on the reviews, plus a whole load of links related to our Amazon browsing history.
What e-Commerce learning do you take from this?
Well, first off, we obviously don’t have access to the sales numbers that each of these pages delivers. Only the retailers and Coke will be able to tell you that.
But what you can take from it is if you sell your products through online retailers is that you will likely run into two different approaches.
With retailers like Woolworths and Coles, the focus is on making the purchase as simple as possible. There is a school of thought that less is more in e-Commerce.
When you remove anything that gets in the way of a purchase, you improve the experience for the shopper and you will reduce drop-out rates. And in the case of very familiar products like Coca-Cola, that makes sense.
However, most businesses are NOT Coca-Cola.
And if you were an alien landing on earth and trying to buy Coca-Cola for the first time, these pages would not be super helpful. And if you are selling a product that is less well-known by consumers, you actually have very limited opportunity to ‘sell’ your product with some online retailers. The templates that Woolworths and Coles use for their product pages apply to ALL their products. Even the way more obscure and unusual ones.
Their systems are set up to be easily managed and maintained by limiting the amount of information that is supplied about a product. It focuses on operation efficiency rather than shopper experience. And while this makes it more reliable, it feels like an IT rather than a marketing led way to think about the customer.
And the most successful product page is …
Compare that with Amazon.
On that page, you can directly buy the product and ignore all the ‘fluff’ that sits around it. And while we all like to think we are rational consumers who ignore the fluff, we know that a lot of that extra fluff has an impact. It attracts attention from the shopper. It adds to experience. And it can increase sales. The focus on customer experience adds value.
Now it doesn’t do this with every shopper of course.
But it does it with enough shoppers to justify the extra effort. Because, on a page for page comparison with Woolworths and Coles, we’d lay good odds that Amazon’s conversion rates are way higher.
You can see how Amazon puts the online customer first.
There’s convenient options to save time (subscribe and save). There’s reviews of the delivery service. Read these and you feel reassured. The product will be delivered on time and in a decent state.
It just all makes sense as an online shopping experience. The shopping experience shows why Amazon is one of the world’s leading online retailers.
And Woolworths and Coles, hmm, not so much.
Now, we know that Woolworths and Coles do decent business online. But they do that because of the habitual buying pattern of Aussie shoppers, not because their online shopping experience adds real value.
If we were to look at how to create a successful product page, Amazon would be our benchmark, not Coles and Woolworths.
More online shopping?
Phew, this article writing is thirsty work, we’re off to have a Pepsi now. But in future weeks, we plan to go through the same process in a couple of quite different categories. Let us know if there’s any channels or products you’d like us to cover.