Put Your Words to Work: Serve Your Retail Customers Better with Great Content


Selling online can be big business, but when a customer comes to your site you only have a few seconds to impress them. If they can’t immediately find what they want, or the user experience isn’t effortless, you’ve lost them. So how do you create a site people want to use? One of the best ways is through compelling content.

When you have product copy on your site that shows your merchandise in the best light, and helps your potential customers fully connect with your brand identity, this is how you can turn a browser into a buyer. Think of the words you use on your website as an extension of the customer service experience you create in-store.

Here’s an overview of things to keep in mind when you’re writing the product descriptions and content on your website:

1. Remember that less is more.

Nobody likes a wall of copy. It’s intimidating. Tell them what they need to know, but don’t use five words when one will do. Make information easy to find and copy easy to read. If they have to go looking for it, they probably won’t. They’ll just go to the next site in their search results.


2. Talk to your ideal buyer.

Who is the person you want to sell to? A well-heeled socialite? A soccer mom? An older couple downsizing their home? A teenage girl defining her style? Think about how you would speak to them face-to-face, in your store. That’s the language you should be using on your site and the overall tone your brand should take.

Your tone of voice can differ greatly depending on who you are talking to, but can make a substantial difference in how you connect with someone who is browsing your site.


3. Focus on the benefits.

Customers definitely need to know features like colour, size, and materials, but that’s not what makes them buy. They really want to know is what’s in it for them.

When you’re writing copy for the products on your website, you should always be asking yourself:

  • How will it improve their lives?
  • How will it solve a problem they have?
  • How can you help them envision using it in their daily life?

Use benefits to tell a compelling story. For example, retailer J. Peterman evokes experiences as a way of communicating benefits, weaving the description into a narrative that’s engaging and fun. Here’s a great example.

4. Make your content skimmable.

We’re too busy to read everything. These days, people scan for the most important information. Make it easy for them by including subheads and callouts, making your paragraphs short and sweet, including relevant images and highlighting important words.


5. Use words that appeal to the senses.

Evoke texture, flavour, fragrance and feel. Use words like baby-soft, vibrant, delicious, cushy, velvety, bright, slinky, flowing, sheer. Make the customer imagine what the fabric will feel like under their fingers, how the colour will make them look.

Have fun with colour, style and fragrance names – Opi nail polish does such a great job naming their colours (“I Just Can’t Cope-Acabana” and “I Cannoli Wear Opi”) that the clever, playful names have become a vital part of their brand.


6. Tell them what you want them to do.

Including a call to action is a vital part of every page. You should craft every page with an objective in mind, asking yourself these questions:

  • Do you want them to buy now?
  • Add something to their cart?
  • Look at another related product?

Your call to action must be clear, short and create a sense of urgency. Always make sure it’s above the fold (the top part of your website that a viewer sees before they start scrolling) and easy to find.

7. Blog it.

Having a blog is an easy way to keep your content fresh (which Google algorithms love), connect with your clientele, and gives people another way to find you online. It’s a direct communication channel that lets you provide timely, relevant info, keep your customers up to date and positions you as a subject matter expert. You can write about anything that has to do with your company – trends, design, shows, events, your employees, new looks in store, specific designers, etc.

Figure out what people want to hear about and offer it up. Blogging is all about being friendly and casual, but it’s also an effective way to build your brand. Keep your posts short and sweet – the ideal length is between 400 and 500 words.

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The words you use to communicate with the customer can have significant impact. They can engage the reader and compel them to buy. They can tell them about the benefits of your products. They can help search engines find your site – and help you rank better on search results.

Words communicate your brand. They can make your customers laugh, think or share with their friends. And they can definitely make your customer service stand out, even online.

Loving this article?

The full whitepaper for this article is available on Vend U, the free education portal for Vend. Available to all Vend customers, it provides world-class retail training with eBooks, guides, live events, webinars, and videos to give you the competitive edge in retail.

Log in to Vend U now and find the whitepaper in the Resources section. You’ll get more even more insights and tips on creating compelling content to engage your customers. Or, find out more about Vend U.

About the Author

Tamara is a writer and communications specialist who has worked in marketing for close to 20 years. She has written customer-focused content for a wide variety of retailers, from national grocery chains to small clothing boutiques, creating dynamic, benefit-driven copy that drives engagement, boosts customer service – and gets people to buy.


About Ashley Gilgrist

Ashley looks after product marketing at Vend — working hard to bring exciting product launches to retailers around the globe. When she’s not busy talking all-things-Vend, Ashley also has a love of tea, candle-crafting, binge-watching, and hiking the pointy peaks of New Zealand.