55% of purchases were made via mobile devices. What will it take to encourage more e-commerce purchases? One of the major drawbacks of buying online is that consumers miss the “showroom” experience. Consumers have a difficult time overcoming the risk associated with being unable to touch, feel or try the product they want to buy. Attempting to overcome this barrier to purchase, many e-Tailers offer free shipping and easy returns creating an “I’ll return it if I don’t like it” shopping mentality.
Recently, eClerx Digital collected data from 50 top global retailers to study elements of customer interaction on their websites in an effort to uncover trends and best practices. One discovery is the significant role that images and videos play in bridging the gap between brick and mortar and online stores. All of the retailers in the data set to display multiple product images except for one. That retailer uses one image per product because their strategy is to use their online presence as a customer touchpoint to support their retail store. The remaining retailers had on average 6 images representing all possible aspects of their products. This is important to online shoppers because poorly displayed or underrepresented products create false customer expectations leading to dissatisfaction and product returns or the failure to build trust or confidence that the product will meet the expected needs means the purchase conversion does not happen at all.
But what types of images are most effective?
Baymard Institute, a leading e-commerce user research firm, categorizes product images into 7 types. So, depending on which product an e-tailer is selling, it needs to carefully select the type of images to use. For example, a lifestyle or personal products such as a shoe, it makes sense to demonstrate the product “in use” to help the consumer to visualize themselves using the product. In addition, showing high-quality images of every angle including the sole of the shoe will provide a clear “picture” of what the consumer is purchasing and reduce the likelihood of dissatisfaction or product return.
PRO TIP: Standard screen resolution for digital images should be 72ppi (pixel per inch).
Although the zoom feature is common on many e-commerce websites, we observed that Technology Hardware retailers such as Apple, Dell, Acer, Microsoft, Lenovo and HP do not use this feature. Instead, every product page is extremely detailed about configuration. Again, this eliminates any question about the capability for the consumer. These buyers care more about what the product is capable of doing rather than a 10X zoom of the keyboard.
Videos are not new, however, product guide videos are gaining more traction. The value they offer to the online buyer is again creating the in-store experience online. And when adding a chat or video chat feature, questions are answered quickly and purchases can be made with ease.
Buyers are 14% more likely to purchase a product with 360-degree spin than on with a still photo. (Source)
The latest and most exciting product imagery trend is the addition of 360-degree spin images. A spin image displays all possible angles to the customer and puts control of the spin in the hands of the customer closely mimicking an in-store experience. Although creating 360-degree spin images and making videos are time and resource intensive, many e-tailers are already benefiting from their investment. Amazon tested the feature and took the project from pilot to roll out for certain categories in 60 days.
eTailers are reporting up to a 35% reduction in returns through the use of 360-degree spin.
It is unlikely that retail will shift completely from brick and mortar to digital; however, creating a digital experience that aligns with customer expectations will make the transition smoother and more profitable. So as retail marketers and e-commerce managers begin to execute on those new year strategies, it is important to keep online merchandising and the user experience front of mind.
Thank you to Swati Sharma, Researcher, Domain and Market Intelligence Team, for leading this project and to the Digital Center of Excellence team led by Ryan Scott for providing the industry data.