Microcopy: how to use it in your e-commerce site

Microcopy is a great tool to familiarise yourself with as an eCommerce site designer, or digital marketeer. Microcopy can act as the keys to the kingdom, if that kingdom is of course lower drop-off rates resulting in increased sales. Microcopy is the gel that binds site content together. Through succinct instructions and prompts, consumers are led towards their intended destinations in order for products to be selected and purchases to be made. There are a variety of clever ways this transactional content is used in many high-profile eCommerce sites. Let’s explore those in more detail, focusing on how the use of microcopy encourages transactions.


Microcopy is often the most subtle of page content. It is used to instruct consumers on how to fill in certain fields on email, or credit-card forms. Microcopy is also used more overtly in calls to action, this is why it is often referred to as transactional content because it’s used specifically to enable consumers to complete transactions. In this sense microcopy is often text which states clearly the benefits of purchasing a particular product. It can also include error messages and help text, all of which nudge and guide consumers in the direction of the checkout.


Micrcopy is crucial in areas of eCommerce sites that users traditionally find tricky. For example, in areas such as selecting the specifics of garments- colour, neck-type, sizes etc, users may get lost and leave your site. Instead of instilling drop-downs at a cost, quick and simple microcopy can be entered into your site, to instruct users on how to select their requirements.


After A/B testing, where you identify areas of your site with high drop off rates, it is natural for site owners to seek to bring about an entire site redesign, when in actual fact more often than not it is the case that a quick insertion of some microcopy could abolish those particular drop off rates.


It never hurts to spell things out to users. Here are a selection of quality brands doing just that:




Shuh has a predictive postcode field, which allows users to enter just their postcode rather than their full address, saving them the extra typing. Once they enter their postcode the site will automatically generate their full address and display it at the click of a button. Just to ensure that customers understand fully that this is indeed the process that they need to follow, Shuh have included some microcopy on the site, which lets the consumer know the process in place and how it works.




Apple adds some microcopy to its guest checkout so that users know that they can create an Apple ID at the end of the checkout, after they have gone through as guests. Initially the Apple site offers a checkout for those already signed up and a guest checkout. Should users really want to sign up before they make their purchase they could drop off the site at this point, were it not for the microcopy clearly stating that this option is possible at the end of the transaction.




Zappos, is a site which includes a great deal of microcopy in help text form. For example, in the search box on the landing page, the word search even appears. This may seem pointless, but actually many users that are not too web-savvy may find this helpful. In the sign in section, Zappo also reminds users that passwords are case sensitive. Presumably in the past there have been instances where users entered their passwords in wrong one too many times, unaware that the fields were case sensitive and dropped off at this stage. Zappa, also have a mandatory field on their shipping information page that asks for phone numbers. Presumably this has deterred some users from completing the shipping information and indeed their transactions for fear of being bombarded with sales calls, so the field includes a small box next to it that informs users that their information will not be used for cold calling or market research.


Microcopy is an incredibly handy tool to use on your eCommerce site, in order to guide your consumers through their purchase journeys. Microcopy is your chance to communicate directly with your consumers, in a thoughtful and clever way in order to prevent drop off rates due to confusion with form fields or general processes. Microcopy saves you money in the long run allowing you the chance to avoid a site overhaul by pin-pointing exactly where your drop-offs occur and smoothing out any confusions at these stages, through concise prompts and communications.