Category: UX advice / Ecommerce guides

6 journeys to take users from editorial to products on an ecommerce site

Illustration by Marginalia

Editorial content has long been used by ecommerce sites as a method for pulling in the punters. Clothing and fashion stores in particular are able to find plenty to write about when it comes to styling and how to best use products.

It’s one thing to get users onto your site to read about the best things to wear this season but how do you get them to stay? More importantly, how do you get them to move to the store part of your site, where they might actually buy something? That, after all, is how you’ll make money.

In my book I outline a key principle, which is to make sure you only allow users to move in one direction: from editorial content to products. Putting editorial links on the product pages will only distract from the important actions, so should be avoided.

When it comes to how to present the product links within the editorial, there isn’t such a black and white principle, as there are many ways to do it. Here I cover six examples, moving from the subtle to the much more overt—a varied inspiration for how it can be done.

More subtle product links

The simplest option for promoting products on article content is to place a set of product links at the bottom of the piece, typically in a row like a related products module. This is demonstrated in the example from clothing site Lands’ End below (who have a separate site for their journal). It looks neat but it’s easy to ignore and it can be hard to show the relationship to the content above—in this case the article doesn’t mention clothing at all.

Land's End related products on article

The other main approach is to put links in-line within the content. REI (or Recreational Equipment Inc) are an ecommerce site with a massive expert advice section and their guides are full of genuinely useful content. The actual links within the text take the user to other expert guides, however when relevant they will place buttons to the ecommerce product listings. The buttons are pretty obvious but not garish and don’t take too much space away from the content.

REI guide with product listings links

It is of course, possible to combine both of the above methods and have links in-line and related products at the bottom. This is something that Birchbox do in the example below. It’s a good way to double down on making sure users find your links by summarising the products mentioned and giving twice the opportunity for users to reach a product.

Birchbox article with product links

More overt product links

The luxury department store Harrods have an editorial style guide section on their website. The links to products primarily sit in the captions to images—something that makes sense as it matches how magazines inform readers about what models are wearing. They also present links in a web-based way using related products modules placed within the story as well as at the bottom. This can mean that some products are repeated in quick succession.

Harrods article images with product captions

Harrods article related products links

Probably my favourite approach to the challenge of promoting products in article content comes from Mr Porter. Like Harrods (and fashion magazines) they caption editorial images with the products that are shown, but upon rollover the text slides down to reveal the product images. It smartly uses the abilities offered by the web to combine a caption with a related products module, which feels very elegant and on-brand.

Of course rollovers aren’t possible on mobile, instead the image becomes a gallery with products being the slides that follow after the main image. It’s not quite as neat but it is a non-invasive way to do it.

Mr Porter article with product links in image

A final and very overt concept comes from a website that is actually one that makes its money from affiliate links rather than selling the products themselves. It’s called Semaine and their editorial content is mainly photographs, which are followed by large product images, allowing users to buy products similar to those displayed in the content shots. Rather than trying to integrate the product promotion, it goes all out with the products forming a very large part of the page content.

Semaine photography with product promotions

Last updated on 6 November 2019
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