Tag Archives: frooition e-commerce

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.

UK officially out of Recession

The UK is officially out of recession, with GDP growing a tenth of one percent in the period October to December 2009. That’s a disappointment to economists as the forecast was for four tenths, but for the country as a whole it’s still a positive indicator that the economy is starting to recover.

One worry is that the economy is still fragile and there’s the possibility of a “Double Dip” recession if the recovery stalls and GDP shrinks in the first quarter of 2010. Over the last year the economy has contracted by around six to seven percent, and without a recession growth should have been around four percent so the country has seen a loss of around ten percent of GDP over the course of the last year.

Exiting recession may be less significant for much of the general population. Companies who have seen their balance sheet shrink won’t be offering pay rises any time soon. Personal finances are still precarious for much of the country and it’s likely that interest rate rises or increased personal taxation as governments try to balance the books will continue to put pressure on consumers and businesses alike.

There is some encouragement for online retailers. Unsurprisingly with the government scrappage scheme, motor traders have contributed to the increase in GDP, but retail was an equally large sector which assisted in the country exiting the recession.

The next quarter will be a valuable indicator as to just how well the economy is recovering. It’s not surprising that retail sales are strong in the run up to Christmas, now it’s essential that consumers carry on spending in the first quarter of the New Year, which once the sales are over, is the time of year credit card bills from the holiday spending have to be paid.

“According to research undertaken by PayPal over one in six adults claim to now save up for things they want to buy rather than use a credit card which is what they would have done before the downturn.

Equally important over half of shoppers have become more price conscious and are much more likely to bargain hunt than make impulse purchases.”

At the same time as careful purchasing the British Bankers Association reports that households’ unsecured borrowing contracted throughout the year, particularly on personal loans. Consumers are looking to cut debt and purchase wisely, especially the 17% of men who are more likely to negotiate with retailers since the recession started.

For online retailers the picture is better than for their offline counterparts. Firstly their cost base is generally considerably lower and secondly their potential audience is considerably larger. Exports from the UK are particularly attractive at the moment due to the low value of Sterling (which dropped to €1.14 and $1.61 on the news of lower than expected GDP growth). Currently products from the UK are particularly attractive to mainland Europe and all online retailers should be marketing to overseas customers and ensuring that simple steps such as making sure shipping costs are displayed to European consumers.

In addition to overseas sales online sellers should be considering holding a sale. This applies both to websites and to eBay where Markdown Manager can be used. A sale used in conjunction with your email marketing to drive traffic is an effective way of encouraging buyers to revisit your products. With people looking to negotiate on price any discount offered is an encouragement to purchase.

One sector that online merchants should address is the Amazon marketplace. Having just reported their fourth quarter earnings their growth rate is 42%. That’s an amazing growth rate and with Comscore reporting at year on year ecommerce growth at around 3%, Amazon is by far outperforming the market. (To put it into perspective eBay reported growth of around 4%).

Amazon, at least in the UK, has hardly got started; currently they’re still well known for media – books, CDs, DVDs. With a raft of categories ranging from Home and Garden, Toys, Sports and Leisure and DIY there’s every indication that Amazon will continue to grow. Online merchant should be benefitting from Amazon growth by becoming a third party seller on the site if they’re not already.

The economic outlook is improving for the UK, but the turnaround is lagging behind to Germany, France and much of Europe. Online merchants should look to Europe and Amazon for growth, and continue to market to the UK with value propositions and where appropriate use discounting.