In our continuing Digital Retail Glossary series, we tackle variated product pages. Most online retailers combine certain logical product variants into a single, unified product page.
Depending on the retailer, variants can include such attributes as flavor, color, scent, size, and pack/size configuration. For shoppers, the benefits are clear: less clutter on search result pages and the ability to easily switch between all available variants when browsing a product page.
By giving shoppers more opportunities to find the exact product they want, and by integrating different product pages and content, variated product pages can help sellers and brands, as well. (Not to mention that they are required: Amazon will remove non-compliant products.)
In this post, we compare how Amazon, Walmart, and Jet display product page variants, and what this means for your brands.
Given its massive assortment and the number of third-party sellers, Amazon has the most complex variation arrangements.
Do the products vary only in a few very specific ways?
Would the typical customer expect to find these products together on a single product page?
Could the products share a single title?
Variation relationships are category-specific: clothing tends to feature color and size variants, while grocery products tend to have different flavor and pack size versions. Sellers cannot create their own variation themes, such as brand or product series.
Although some product page characteristics are shared among variants (ratings & reviews), most are unique to each version.
Where variated product pages are identical on Amazon:
Ratings & Reviews: Product pages appear to share reviews across variants with a single, aggregated star rating. A shopper who has selected a single variant will see reviews of products for all variants. Reviews, in turn, carry an indicator of the version the shopper purchased:
Where product page variants differ
Sellers: Different variations can have different Buy Box sellers.
Price: Variations often have different prices, depending on the Buy Box seller and the type of variant characteristic.
Product Title: Although Amazon says one indicator of an appropriate parent/child relationship is that the products can share a single title, many variated product pages render product titles based on the selected variant.
Product Content: Variants can contain different product content, from bullet point content to the product description to A+ content. (A+ content is applied to all first-party variants in a set, but third-party content can sometimes supersede first-party content if a 3P seller wins the Buy Box for an extended period.)
Program Eligibility: Given the different sellers and price points, Subscribe & Save, Prime, and Add-On Item eligibility are not always the same across variants.
Images: Different versions of products tend to have different images.
Below is an example in action. Note the different product titles, prices, sellers, and bullet point contents:
Walmart’s variated product pages are fewer and simpler; eligible variants appear to include color, size, and, occasionally, an additional attribute. Like Amazon, variants share ratings and reviews. Unlike Amazon, these product page variants appear to share most product content.
In the Hane’s men’s t-shirt example below, shoppers toggle between size and color to choose a t-shirt:
When shopping for this iPad Mini, shoppers toggle between color and a “personalizable” attribute—here, storage capacity:
Given Jet’s recent launch and the turnover in its assortment, product page variants are not as streamlined or consistent as Amazon’s or Walmart’s.
Like Amazon and Walmart, Jet utilizes variants in the clothing category for size and color:
In other categories, though, variated product pages are not as common and even change day-to-day. The below screenshot (from August 31, 2015) shows a dropdown for “flavor-size”:
And, on September 2, 2015, those variants had disappeared from the same product page:
Jet is new and changing rapidly; how it handles variated product pages is to-be-determined. However, the fact that it’s not a marketplace site, whereas Amazon increasingly is, might mean manufacturers are able to streamline content across variants more easily.
What does this mean for you?
On Amazon, determine whether your products fit into logical variation themes for your category. Give shoppers options without overwhelming them.
Make product content consistent and high-quality for all versions of a product. For some variants, third-party seller content is the only content available. In other cases, losing the Buy Box to 3P sellers for an extended period could result in 3P seller content overriding your own content.
Pay attention to the way product page variants impact search results and rankings. Variations do not always help search results for every search term, particularly in cases where your ASIN is hidden behind a 3P ASIN you don’t have control over (due to out-of-stocks or loss of the Buy Box).
Keep an eye on Walmart’s growing online Marketplace, especially as third-party sellers begin to sell variants not currently listed on Walmart.com.
Monitor Jet’s assortment for your brands’ listed variants and product content.
Thanks to Patrick Miller, Co-Founder of Flywheel Digital, and Garrett Bluhm, Director of eCommerce at Hyland’s, for contributing to this analysis.
Check out the rest of our Digital Retail Glossary Series: