Found this in the April 2, 2007 Ad Age:

More than three-fourths of consumers research products online before they buy, and they’re twice as likely to so on a retailer’s site as on a manufacturer’s site.

Do you want to know why? How about the fact that retailers build sites that are search-engine optimized, follow W3C standards and actually watch their stats- to examine how to improve their site- because a better site means more sales. There is a direct relationship from functionality to profitability. Many manufacturers sites don’t make this connection- or do everything they can to make things more complex than they need to be.

A few tips: Never move a URL- if you have a page for your product- the XYZ Widget- always have the same url. Add to it, update it- but don’t change the url. Make sure you have links to the owners manual, instructions, warranty info, a forum to discuss the product, tips on using it- etc.

Allow consumers to say good or bad things about it- if good- say thanks, if bad- try to make them happy. If they aren’t doing it on your site- they will do it somewhere else- and may not find out you have a simple fix or update for your product. Link to as many reviews as possible- making your site the hub (and first in Google) for your product. Make sure consumers can access all commercials, print brochures, spec sheets right from this page. Have S/N, date of production info available as well. Make sure you have high rez photos available so they can put your product on the report to their boss- with why they should buy it- and look good.

These are only a few of the tips for the new way customers research making buying decisions. If you are interested in more- feel free to contact us for a full site analysis.