Friday, February 13th, 2009
As a Netflix customer with a slow home connection, I am a big fan of the “Quick View” roll-over used in ecommerce sites, allowing a user to see information prior to clicking to the product detail page. It is useful and efficient to…
- see a larger picture and different views of the product
- get easy access to your next action (i.e. check shipping, see sizing chart, add to cart)
- see more detailed information
Without waiting for a page to load, presumably a user can get to most of the information needed to make a purchase.
I spent some time reviewing the Hot 100 Internet Retailer Sites, some of the Top 500, and other interesting apparel sites. The Quick View information varied in format, presentation and placement:
- Roll-over vs. Click: Some sites offer the Quick View upon roll-over, some upon click. Those with the click version usually show much more comprehensive and important information for a purchase decision, as the format allows for tabs, buttons and links to further information. For instance, Borders.com offers a detailed description, list price, your price, shipping info, customer ratings, a browsing function to other products, and links to add to cart, reserve in-store, or add to wish list. For most products, more information is better for decision-making, but for some sites such as Ace Hardware, simple bulleted information upon roll-over feels fine, as it offers what I need to know (a bigger image is seemingly not as important for insect repellent or paint thinner).
- Quick View vs. Sub-category Add-to-Cart: One advantage of Quick View functionality is the ability to access an action (buying) without the extra step of opening the product detail page. Of the 150 sites I reviewed, 29 offer some sort of Quick View option. Of those, 16 offer the ability to add to cart (55%). But as an alternative, about 20% of those sites without Quick View have add to cart directly on the sub-category page, mostly in the food, electronics, or pharmacy categories, which can be as useful for simpler purchases (i.e. Bulbs.com).
- Quick View Larger Image: For apparel, fashion, or any product category where what it looks like is a key selling factor, a bigger image in Quick View is imperative. It is disappointing to click on Wetseal or Meijer.com’s Quick View only to get an image practically the same size, with only a bit more information about the product and no mechanism to view larger. The North Face’s Quick View not only gives 3 tabs of information about the product (options, features, specifications), the ability to add to cart, but it also gives several views of the product and a magnified view upon roll-over. Gap.com’s Quick View also offers a larger image through a view larger button which launches a pop-up window with a very large image.
- Larger Images Only: Some Quick Views only offer larger images (pseudo-Quick Views, really). This is helpful to gauge product interest, but if there is no add to cart functionality from the Quick View, to purchase the user has to close the larger view, click to the product detail page, and then click add to cart to purchase, so although helpful, it’s overall not as streamlined for purchase. Novica.com offers a gigantic pop-up image, but no additional info or add to cart. The Runningwarehouse.com offers more detailed information on the sub-catgory page, and the pop-up view is a 360-rotation view of the product; again, helpful, but not an ideal workflow. (As a side note, Levi.com offers a visually inefficient version of the larger view; on roll-over an image shows larger, but it is in a set white space on the right of the page. When there is no larger image, that white space is strangely blank.)
- Sub-Category Alt Views: Another interesting presentation in lieu of a Quick View is to offer a alternate or magnified view upon roll-over on the sub-category page. It is an active, interesting way to present pertinent buying information. As I was browsing bathing suits on EddieBauer.com, I found it very useful to see both the back and the front views just by running my mouse across the page. The execution could be improved overall, as some other categories (sweaters) do not consistently show the back view; views are interspersed with color choices, larger views, which is more of a less elegant presentation.
For sites without Quick View, often times it was logical not to offer it, as most of the pertinent information was on the sub-category page. Along with add to cart, some sub-cats also include reviews, colors offered (and sometimes color changes), shipping information, availability, etc. The only issue with this method is a page overloaded with information and choices. Walmart.com is an example of a rather cluttered page, albeit for fairly practical purchases where information is important.
On the other end of the spectrum, Sunglass hut elegantly shows only a picture of the product (without price or product name) on the sub-category page, and upon roll-over, the price and name appear, including very subtle add to cart, compare or wishlist icons.
No matter what the presentation, information offered prior to the page load of the product detail page enables and speeds the purchase process for a consumer.