March 10, 2022
Ecommerce Storytelling: Connecting Emotionally to Products & Consumers

Think about the last time you heard a great story. Perhaps you were gathered around the dinner table with your family or 2 cocktails deep on a Zoom call with friends.

Did the storyteller have a “just the facts” attitude, or did they draw you in with details that made you feel as though you were right there with them? Maybe the storyteller inflated a few points to make the adventure seem larger than life (We were in the middle of nowhere and hadn’t seen another car for hours!)? Or perhaps they omitted key information to create suspense and keep their listeners guessing (I couldn’t make out the shadow clearly, but I could tell by the footsteps that it was enormous!).

What made you lean in to listen? What kept you on the edge of your seat? Every story has common elements, but a really good story manages to be more than the sum of its parts.

Telling a great story about the products you sell shouldn’t be any different than sharing a thrilling tale with friends. You want your shoppers connected emotionally to the products they’re considering and you need certain elements to do it.

The Devil Is in the Product Details

Consider the differences between these two descriptions of a table.

1. “Add a touch of Paris to your dining room with this French bistro-style table. The table base is constructed of long-lasting cast iron and crested with a dark wood top. Finished in hand-brushed antique bronze, this table is an amazing addition to any dining space.”

2. “French bistro-style table made of bronze cast iron and dark wood.”Which would you be more interested in buying? Which description offers you a better sense of the product you’re thinking about purchasing?

Number 1 offers product information with more compelling details and a sense of the product’s “back story” which makes it easier to imagine in your space or as part of your lifestyle.

Product information is the data your potential customer will use to virtually run their hand over plush, navy blue velvet and “feel” the satisfying spring of a tufted sofa cushion. It’s the information a newlywed couple will use to make a decision about which blender to purchase for their first home together. Compelling product information is an integral part of digital merchandising.

Setting the Stage for Conversions

You may already be familiar with the concept of “retail merchandising” or “staging."

Retail merchandising helps shoppers make decisions about what to buy, makes people feel good about shopping in your store, and most importantly, converts browsers into buyers. Effective merchandising turns something generic into something personal that the consumer can imagine themselves using, buying, or living in.

Digital merchandising is similar to retail merchandising – except it’s done on your website, in email campaigns, ads, and social media with words, curated collections, good photography or videos, and plenty of descriptive details.

Digital merchandising is how to tell each product’s story and a good story sells!

So why does merchandising (digital or otherwise) matter? Merchandising narrows the options a customer is considering, which helps them relax. If you don’t understand why having a bunch of equally good choices actually makes shopping more stressful, listen up.

Has something like this ever happened to you?

You’re in the market for a new toaster and you’re ready to purchase. You’re browsing Amazon, credit card in hand, and after (what feels like) an eternity of searching, you give up in disgust.

At some point, all the features, colors, and styles start blurring together. It’s hard to remember what you’ve already seen, which features are most important, and which brand has the best reviews. You decide that you need some time to clear your head, and put off making the purchase.

Why does this happen? Overchoice.

Overchoice (or choice overload) is a psychological phenomena that occurs when many equally good choices are available, leading to mental exhaustion as a person weighs each option against all the others.

Initially, more choices lead to more satisfaction, but as the number of choices increase, satisfaction peaks and people tend to feel more pressure, confusion, and potential dissatisfaction with their choice which leads to cart abandonment or putting off the purchase.

Although larger choice sets can be initially appealing, smaller choice sets lead to increased satisfaction and reduced regret. Smaller choice sets reduce overwhelm and increase conversions.

Check out this real world example. In 2000, psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper from Columbia and Stanford University published a study about choice fatigue. They set up two tables selling jam at a grocery store, one with 24 kinds of jam, and the other with only 6 kinds. Which table sold more jam? That’s right, the display table with fewer kinds of jam made more sales.

To make shopping enjoyable, you need to make sure consumers aren’t overwhelmed. An overwhelmed shopper isn’t a happy shopper. An overwhelmed shopper is likely to give up and leave your website without purchasing anything.

In Ecommerce, Less is More

As proven by the wild success of direct-to-consumer (DTC) ecommerce merchants selling an intentionally limited selection of products, consumers appreciate a well-curated and merchandised selection, as opposed to an endless aisle of items.

You can help your customers cope with overchoice by using product information to tell a rich story about the product they’re considering. Detailed product information offers differentiators that ease decision-making fatigue. For example, when choosing between two equivalently good options, the following details might help break the tie.

“This wood comes from recycled barn boards.”

“This fabric was knitted by women in India for a fair wage that helps lift families out of poverty.”

The modern consumer wants expert guidance paired with reliable and unbiased information about the products they spend their hard-earned money on. And because this is the digital age, a web presence is the single best way to communicate these things.

Ecommerce retailers need a web presence that offers:

  • Product information including a description, product photos and videos, dimensions, and swatches so you can connect emotionally with your customers
  • A homepage customized for your industry
  • Reviews from other shoppers
  • Transparent pricing
  • Smart product pages

Take the guesswork out of setting up your ecommerce website with StoreBuilder by Nexcess. StoreBuilder delivers a fully customized, no-code, industry-focused ecommerce template so you can start selling in a snap.


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