Findability, product content and availability – the foundations of ecommerce success

Findability, product content and availability continue to play a critical role in consumers’ online journey to purchase, but they are often overlooked, causing brands and third-party resellers to needlessly miss out on valuable sales.

In an online environment, brands must rely almost entirely on product content (images, videos, descriptions, instructions, pricing and ratings and reviews) to convert customers. If any of these content elements are missing or incorrect it can result in missed sales.

Detail Online commissioned OnePoll to conduct an independent survey of 4,000 online shoppers from across the US and UK to reveal their attitudes to poor product information and availability.

Product information/descriptions are crucial for online purchases

Nearly all of the online shoppers (93%) in our research said product information was either an essential or important factor in their purchasing decision.

Question: How important is product information/description when you buy online?

Bad product information makes more than half of shoppers feel either frustrated or inclined to shop elsewhere. It also makes more than a third of customers angry.

It is critical that customers get the information they need to be inspired to purchase your product. The challenge for brands, however, is that the online reseller landscape is often complex and extensive. Attempting to manually monitor retailers and marketplaces can be expensive, error prone and ultimately impractical.

Nearly two thirds of shoppers have decided not to buy a product online because of a poor product description

Our survey revealed that nearly two thirds of shoppers (62%) have decided not to buy a product due to a poor product description.

Question: Have you ever decided not to buy a product online because of a poor product description?

While text and images continue to be the most popular forms of content, user-generated content, such as customer reviews and ratings, are growing in importance, especially for high-cost/high-consideration purchases.


Marketplaces and retailers are the starting point for 6/10 online shoppers

The study reveals that marketplaces and retailers are the starting point for researching online purchases for 6/10 people.

Question: Generally, where do you start researching online purchases?

More than half (59%) of shopper are either ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ likely to switch brands if they couldn’t find a specific product they want online.

As customers turn to retailers and marketplaces’ to find the products they’re looking for, you need to take an SEO approach and optimize your product keywords accordingly. Treat every retailer as a separate channel and learn what it takes to get your products easily found by the customer on their specific site.

Read more in the guide “Optimise your online product sales channels for conversion” 


60% of consumers are likely to switch brands if a specific product they want is out of stock online

This trend was most pronounced among US consumers aged 18 to 24, with 98% saying they were ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ likely to switch brands if a specific product was out of stock online.

Question: If an item you want from a specific brand is out-of-stock online, how likely or unlikely are you to purchase a similar product from a different brand?

Consumers can only buy a product if it is available, so eliminating out-of-stocks should be prioritized in order to increase online sales. Did you know that digital shelf analytics tools can automatically monitor your products and notify you if they are out-of-stock in any of your online retailers and marketplaces? They can also uncover hidden out- of-stock issues, such as a product having an unacceptably long delivery time, and out-of-stocks for click-and-collect.


What you believe the consumers see and what they actually see – how big is the gap? 

Our technology helps brands to monitor product visibility across more than 1,000 websites in more than 80 countries every day. We have yet to find a single brand that is not suffering from poor product visibility in some way. In general, when we work with a brand for the first time, we find more than 20 percent of the data points our technology monitors have some kind of problem. It can be broken links, out-of-stock products or mismatched content, such as an incorrect title.

So, with brands suffering a 20% error rate, are you ready to discover how you can optimize your reseller channel? Let us do a quick audit of your products free of charge

Originally published Jun. 21, 2021, updated Jul. 07, 2021
Joakim Gavelin
Joakim Gavelin
CEO, Detail Online

Joakim has spent 25 years in merchandising and conducting audits in physical stores, and for the last 5 years he has been applying the same principles online. The tactics include promotion, presentation, visibility, stock situation, position on shelf, share of shelf etc., which all affect conversion in e-commerce.

Read the full report

This independent survey of 4,000 online shoppers across the US & UK to reveal their attitudes towards poor product information, availability & findability.
Download your copy