Images matter in ecommerce. When used effectively, they can convey vital information about a product, and can help to drive sales.
In addition, imagery can help customers to choose the product which is best for them, and can help to reduce returns rates.
In this article, I’ll look at how ecommerce sites can use images, showing some examples from retailers.
Let people zoom in
Detail is important, and zoom tools allow shoppers to gain a better impression of how a product looks.
Sometimes, detail like texture is only visible on close up views, as in the example below from Made.com.
High quality images
Quality images are essential for many products, and go side by side with the ability to zoom in.
It’s about showing your products in the best possible light. This is especially important for some high ticket items, such as this £2,450 bracelet.
It also works in other ways, such as stimulating the tastebuds, as in this image from Hotel Chocolat:
One image is rarely enough
Ok, if it’s a DVD or book cover, perhaps one will suffice. Most products need more than that though.
A range of images from different angles shows products more effectively, and can convey information more easily than even detailed product page copy.
Shoes are a good example of this. One image is rarely enough – you need to see how they look from different angles, including a view of the soles (many sites overlook this).
Here’s a good example from Clark’s:
Use images in category pages
The product page is the most important place to use them, as this is where visitors are considering a purchase, but their use around an ecommerce site shouldn’t be overlooked.
For example, images used during checkout can provide a quick visual reminder of the customer’s order.
Product images on category pages and search results are also important. This is often the first view (and impression) visitors will gain of products.
In this situation, high quality and easily visible images can help.
For example, compare the following two category pages for Lego products. The first is from Hamley’s, with relatively small images.
Now look at the Smyths site for the same products. Unlike the images on Hamley’s, these are big enough to give the user a better impression of the product.
This A/B test on a Czech website demonstrates the same point.
The version that ‘won’ (shown below) and which delivered a 9.46% increase in sales was the one in which the product images were biggest.
As the article explains:
In all cases, they’re looking at the product as they make the journey from interest, desire and finally action.
Show the product in use
A well thought out image can not only show what the product looks like, but can also show uses for it. Of course, video can perhaps do this more effectively, but this post is about images…
Here, the homepage for iZettle demonstrates perfectly how its card readers work. No need for lengthy explanations when a picture can do the job.
What can it do?
A picture can help to demonstrate product features, such as how much you can fit into a wallet, as on Bellroy.
Here is as good a demonstration as you can get. This is what fits in the wallet. No need to explain further.
Make images beautiful
If your products look great, make sure images convey this. Make the presentation as attractive to the eye as possible.
This is a great example from Jeni’s. It would have been much easier just to use images of ice cream boxes, but going the extra mile here makes a difference.
As a result, the site looks great, and the flavours look amazing:
This makes a lot of sense when the products you sell are exclusive (and expensive). This watch from Bulgari looks fantastic on this image.
Show product features
Images are a great way to show product features at a glance.
No need to scour the product information to know which tools this Swiss army knife has – it’s there to see.
Consider using images in site search
Images in site search provide a visual cue which help users to find the item they’re searching for.
Here’s an example from Boden.
Provide information relevant to images
Images sometimes can’t convey all of the information customers need, so a little context is needed.
For example, not enough fashion retailers provide information on model and dress size, as ASOS does here:
Mobile users need images too
There used to be a school of thought ( and perhaps still is) that what mobile users needed was a slimmed down version of the desktop site.
Sure, there need to be adjustments to ensure that mobile sites are fast and accessible for mobile users, but not at the cost of losing key features.
This includes product images. Mobile shoppers still need to see good quality images, and from a range of angles. This is what they get from Schuh:
I’m not sure where the line between image and video lies, but 360 product images are useful whatever the answer.
Here’s an example from sofa.com.
Don’t forget SEO
Images should be optimised for SEO. This means alt and title tags to describe images, as well as ensuring that images load quickly.
Here’s a tool to test your alt tags.
User generated images FTW
Quality is important, but showing images from existing customers adds a valuable dash of social proof to your product pages.
Modcloth adds images of users wearing their products to its pages.
This tells the potential buyer that other people have been very happy with the products, as well as providing further inspiration on outfits and accessories.
Don’t let images ruin your page load speed
One drawback of having high resolution product photos is that it can slow down page load times, so compressing images where possible is one way to reduce the file size and lose a few kilobytes from your website.
Page speed is one of Google’s mobile ranking factors, so its important first of all for the user experience, but also for SEO.
Jon Henshaw of Raven Tools suggests creating a completely new image for mobile sites to improve load speed.
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