Tag Archives: Selling Techniques

How presentation affects value perception – and how to use it to increase your sales.

Burger with meat and French fries in serving basket on dark background

Don’t judge a book by its cover.
The perfect example of good advice none of us can take.

The burger above looks like it would cost more than the average fast food burger served in a polystyrene box. Being wrapped in brown paper and served on a chopping block, the basket for the fries, the slate table. It is all very artisnal looking. None of these elements affect the taste or quality of the burger itself, but they absolutely affect our perception of its value.

“There is no truth. There is only perception.” – Gustave Flaubert.

When you eat at a Mcdonald’s you are expecting food that is fast, but without any real care put into it. When you eat in the Gourmet burger company, you are expecting something prepared with thought and attention. The name of the restaurant tells you to expect that, the menu descriptions and presentation of the food would tell you to expect that, the presentation of the restaurant itself and the price would tell you that too. All of these elements are key to value perception. And they are exactly the same, no matter what you are selling.

A well presented brand is perceived as a
quality brand, a trust worthy brand.


Apple are a brand that capitalises on our love of aesthetics. Their adverts show you beautifully stylised images of products, but tell you very little about them. Good clear product photos are one of the best ways to instantly increase your sales.

The description of your product is the second most vital factor to its selling online. Try to include as much information as you can. Be honest, and focus on the benefits of the product. Zappos are great at describing products. The image below is one of the products on their site. You can see they have lots of good clear photos of the product, in all colours, so customers can feel confident that they know how it will look. The description is set out as a bullet point list and is very short on adjectives. Instead, they focus on stating each feature and its benefit. I have highlighted the benefits. You can see that the points that are not benefits are just specification facts.

Every adjective is an unsubstantiated claim that may spark skepticism.

Instead of saying “high quality leather lined footbed” they say “leather lined footbed moulds to your foot for ultimate comfort and support.” This is because vague statements like “high quality” are opinion based. When you describe something as high quality or beautiful, you are expressing your own opinion, rather than giving the customer information they can use to make their own opinions.

Zappos shoe description

No one trusts the salesman.

Customers now are more skeptical than ever before. And winning trust is key to not just sales, but building customer loyalty. You can see that at the top of the image, right under the product name is a star rating and a link to customer reviews for the product. That is because customer reviews are the most valuable kind of social proof, and will certainly influence sales. Zappos have done something clever at the bottom of the image too, using information collected from customer reviews to answer customers most common questions about fit. They do not need to tell you about the quality of the shoe, because their customers are doing it for them.

The fact that Zappos have formatted all this information so well, that they have professional product photos and a sleek looking website which is easy to navigate, tells you that they are a professional company and that you can trust them. Using the right hand side promo area to offer free shipping and make it clear how to contact them with any further questions shows that they value customer service, and this add value. People are far more likely to trust what they perceive to be an established, professional company. Through surveying our customers, we have found that eBay stores experience between a 10-30% uplift in sales after having a professional design installed.

The majority of online purchases now involve a mobile device. You could have professional images, focused descriptions and lots of glowing reviews, but if your site is not built to be mobile responsive, it will look awful to mobile customers. Poor presentation and navigation makes customers feel distrust, and even doubt the value of your product and service. Value perception is so effected by website presentation, that all Frooition designs are mobile compatible as standard. Making sure that every customer gets the best view of your store.

Look at how you are presenting your products. Could the photos and descriptions be any better? Does your website look professional and instill trust? Does your mobile site look as trustworthy as the desktop version?

Please comment if you have any further points, or you have implemented any of the changes covered.

What is eBay Best Match?

Best Match is the process by which eBay sort search results, and the higher your listings appear in Best Match the more likely it is that a buyer will make a purchase from you.

It’s important to realise that auctions and fixed price listings are sorted differently. In general auctions are still sorted by time ending soonest, but are then combined with fixed price listings to produce the final sort order (often alternately auction, fixed price, auction, fixed price, but if there are more of one type of listing than the other the frequency may vary).

eBay’s initial sort order for fixed price items is according to “Best Value” or “Popularity”. eBay consider the measure of Best Value to be based upon how often a buyer purchases an item in comparison to how often it appears in search results. If an item title contains irrelevant keywords it may initially appear high in search results, but as it gains search impressions (as buyers view the item title in search results) if it doesn’t attract purchases it’ll quickly drop down the search results sort order.

An interesting by product of listing popularity is that some sellers have reported ending a listing with no sales and re-launching a brand new listing for an identical product often gives it higher placement in search results. This is because a listing with 100 views in search and no sales is viewed by eBay as less popular and thus less likely to sell than a listing with no, or few, search impressions and no sales. If the previously unsold item appears higher in search results it naturally stands more chance of being purchased, and the more purchases a listing attracts the higher in search results that it appears leading to ever more sales.

“eBay perceive items offering free postage to be attractive to buyers and listings that don’t charge additional postage costs get a small boost in search results.”

Once search results are ordered according to popularity there are two other main factors which can bump a listing even higher on the search results page. The first is if the seller is a Top Rated Seller. Top Rated Seller status is based on customer service, as measured by the four Detailed Seller Ratings for Item Description, Communication, Dispatch Time and Postage & Packing Charges. To qualify sellers need to ensure they don’t receive more than the maximum allowable low (one or two star) scores for any particular Detailed Seller Rating.

The second boost in search results is smaller, but is for offering free postage. eBay perceive items offering free postage to be attractive to buyers and listings that don’t charge additional postage costs get a small boost in search results.

There is one other important criteria which can affect your placement in Best Match search results and that is if your Seller Performance drops below standard as measured by Detailed Seller Ratings. Sellers who receive too many one or two star ratings will have their listings lowered right to the bottom of search results. This includes both fixed price, and auction listings. Even if you have an auction which is about to end it will appear on the last page of search results below a newly listed auction which still has ten days left to run if you’re listings are being demoted in search.

Although Top Rated Seller status is desirable to get a boost in search position, in comparison the demotion in search from being a below standard seller is devastating. In effect your items will be hidden from buyers and it’s likely your items will only be found if they’re particularly rare and there aren’t many alternatives on the site, or by savvy buyers specifically looking for a bargain.

Ultimately doing a good job as an eBay seller will get your listings to the top of Best Match. Avoid underhand tactics such as keyword spamming in product titles and keep customer service standards high to avoid demotion in search. You’ll still need to source products which buyers want to buy and offer them at a competitive price, but a good listing title and clear pictures and great descriptions to make sure buyers purchase when then view you listing will go a long way to ensure your items are placed well in search.

Finally many sellers are concerned that they’ve not qualified as Top Rated Sellers. If you’re not a Top Rated Seller don’t worry as although their listings are boosted in search recent sales and eBay’s measure of popularity are more important. So long as you’re not a below standard seller whose listings are being demoted it doesn’t matter if a competitor is a Top Rated Seller and you’re not – if you’re offering a great product at a good price and attracting more sales than your competitors then it will be your listing that is appearing at the top of Best Match search results.