The below tips are based on the Lulus Local Food program but are relevant for other online local food markets.
Always Keep the Customer in Mind
When setting up your online product listings, always keep the customer in mind. Scroll through your products and look at them as a customer might. Click on each photo, read each description and imagine that you are someone who has never tried these products. Ask yourself “Would I buy this?” Is there enough information here so the customer knows what he is getting?
You want to make it clear why your products are special. Your key helpers are the photos and the descriptions.
A rule of thumb in online sales is to describe items as if there were no photos and to photograph items as if there were no descriptions.
Think about the questions you get asked at a farmers market or at a retail store and include that information in your description. If people are always asking if duck eggs taste like chicken eggs, assume the online shopper is wondering that too.
A well written description can make a big difference to a customer. You want your descriptions to be clear and accurate. Consider briefly mentioning your growing practices. If it’s a heritage breed, name the breed. If it’s an unfamiliar cut of meat or an unusual vegetable, give them some ideas for using it. If you have a good recipe to share, mention it and then include your recipe in the Manage News section.
Even obvious products can use a few extra words to convey their value. Most customers are going to know what ground beef is but it wouldn’t hurt to add “grassfed” and to mention the fat content.
Ingredients. List every ingredient in your product. This is especially important to customers who have food allergies or are particularly health conscious. Even if you include a photo of the label, I would include the ingredients in the written description. Not everyone looks at photos and many people use small mobile devices anyway.
Search Terms. Some people will type what they are looking for into the search engine instead of browsing. Be sure to include the singular and the plural versions of each product in the descriptions. In the Lulus Local Food search engine, if you search for “apple” you will get different results than if you search for “apples.” “Green bean” does not pull up an item that is written as “Green Beans.” The way around this is to include both in your description.
Also, think about the alternate words they might use to find your product and include them in the description. If someone types in “beef,” does your steak show up?
Product names need to be clear and straightforward. You have 50 characters but you don’t have to use them all. Keep it simple. Many producers create subcategories within their listings. It lets the customer see and compare all the different types of – beans for example – that you offer. For producers with a lot of different types of products, this makes sense.
Photos are important. Similar to descriptions, they need to be clear and accurate.
Use photos that are at least 1200 pixels wide. Using a small photo size results in a blurry photo when the customer clicks on it. That makes reading labels impossible. Also, Hub administrators can’t use blurry photos on social media.
Use a neutral, glare free background (solid colors typically are best)
Turn off the flash and make the most of bright and diffused natural lighting (window light works well)
Fill the frame - Center the item so that it takes up 80%–90% of the frame, allowing buyers to see the product well.
Keep it simple - Remove distracting elements. Props can take the focus off the product.
Make sure customers know what they are getting. If you are selling strawberries, don’t use a photo of strawberries, carrots and squash. That’s a pretty photo and one you can use on social media but it can confuse customers who don’t read the descriptions.
The main photo focuses on what the customer is going to receive. It’s great to have photos of a cooked item but unless it’s a prepared food item that arrives frozen, it is probably best to make your main photo the raw ingredient.
On the Lulus Local Food system, you can add multiple photos to convey cooking ideas and recipes.
You can also take close up photos of the labels or of the item gift wrapped.
Test a few things out. See if it makes a difference.
I imagine you don’t have a lot of time to mess around with this. But if you are surprised that a particular item isn’t selling, try changing the photo or rewriting the description. It may make a difference in the customers you attract.
As always, if you need help optimizing your listing, contact me.