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Great product imagery can do a lot to improve online retailer's conversion rates by showcasing products in the best possible light, and highlighting key features for shoppers. 

When used well, they can also educate shoppers about a product, and a more informed customer is less likely to return items bought online. 

Here I look at 15 ways to improve product imagery, with lots of great examples from ecommerce sites... 

Make them big

The results of these A/B tests suggest that bigger images mean more conversions. And it certainly makes sense. 

Some sites have relatively small images, so it can be hard to get an idea of items when you hit the product page. Not so Zappos, where you can see this shirt in all its 'glory'. 

Big shirt image

Make them zoomable

This may seem obvious, but a few sites still don't do this. For some products, clothes and shoes particularly, you can't expect customers to make a decision to purchase based on one simple photo; they have to be able to see the detail.

At $340 per square foot, you'll want to take a closer look at this Alexander McQueen rug for example: 

Then there's the type of zoom tool to consider. A common approach is to have the image zoom as you mouse over the image which is OK, though it can be fiddly on tablets and mobile. The mobile version of the Rug Company product image is unusable for instance. 

Multiple images please

Unless it's a DVD or book cover (and even then, there's more you can do with this), then people are going to want to see products from a range of angles. 

Here's a good example from Zappos. These 'Hipster Chukas' can be viewed from seven different angles so the shopper can get a good feel for the shoe, see the tread etc. 

Product images multiple angles

Also important is to show multiple images when there are different colours available, and Zappos does this too: 

hipster chukas

Why not try 360 views? 

This way, customers can see all the way around in one shot. Look at this example from IGC (Investment Gun Company). See it in action here

Luger

They're useful for plenty of products, such as these football boots on the Adidas website:

 

Show me what's on the inside

Product images should help shoppers to see the product in more detail, as this is often easier than reading explanatory text.

Here, Macy's shows the inside of this leather case, so shoppers can see the various compartments to help them decide. 

Product images inside shot

Here's another good example from diapers.com, showing just how much you can cram into the diaper bag: 

Don't neglect images on mobile

People do shop on mobile, and it's growing fast. So retailers need to do enough with images so that shoppers can get a 'feel' for the products they're viewing. 

Here Nixon's responsive site, viewed on mobile, provides good quality images from a range of angles: 

High quality images please

All images should be good enough to showcase the products effectively, but there is a particular need for this on luxury sites, to sell the quality and craftsmanship of the products. 

Here, the images on Hotel Chocolat have sold these chocolates, for me at least: 

Lovely chocolates

The same applies to this handbag on Mulberry.com: 

Mulberry product image

Though amateur is sometimes good...

This image used on Etsy is for homemade items, and is presumably shot using the seller's children (or some she borrowed from a neighbour or something).

While the photo is less than professional quality, it still showcases the product well, and actually reinforces the homemade feel, giving the product more authenticity.  

Etsy product image 

The same principle applies for eBay listings. In the example below, potential buyers can see the actual laptop, as well as the fact that it switches on, looks OK, and the power cable is there. 

Show products in context

Showing them in context helps shoppers to relate to them better, and shows how they can be used. Here's an example from BabyCenter: 

And another from Firebox, just to show how your VW Camper Van tent will look when you pitch it: 

Help people to interpret images

People need to be able to get a sense of size, so displaying next to everyday items can help. Another way to do this comes from ASOS, which shows the size of the dress the model is wearing and her height so people can get a better idea: 

ASOS product image

Show me how it works

This series of images (and video) from Lakeland give users a good idea of how this breadmaker works: 

Optimise images for fast loading

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.

Show me the back and sides of the product

This is useful for electronics good, so shoppers can see the various inputs on the product at a glance, so the image answers questions customers may have about scart sockets and the like. 

Here's a good example from Pioneer: 

Don't forget your Alt tags

Alt tags describe the images when they fail to load, and makes them more accessible. 

These tags also have SEO value, as they are indexed by the search engines, and can turn up in image searches. 

Every product image should contain a descriptive alt tag, not just a stock number. 

Alt tags on images

For example, if you look at the above image on Walmart, this is the source code: 

<img alt="" id="Img2" src="http://i.walmartimages.com/i/p/00/02/22/65/39/0002226539826_AV_60X60.gif" style="border: 1px solid rgb(244, 123, 32);">

The Alt tag doesn't tell me what the image is, and it doesn't tell the search engines either. 

A few quick tips: 

  • Describe your images plainly. 
  • Don't go crazy in an effort to cram in loads of keywords. 
  • If products have a serial number, add that to the tag. 

Make them pinnable

If people want to share your product images on Pinterest, make it nice and easy for them with a 'Pin It' button.

People looking for visual inspiration on Pinterest are then more likely to find your products. They can then click straight through to the product page. 

Here, Anthropologie has added the button to its product pages: 

Pinnable images

It has also used 'Rich Pins' which allow for price and other information to be shown on Pinterest: 

Rich Pin

Graham Charlton

Published 31 July, 2013 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

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Lee Cash, VP Sales, EMEA at Triggit

Thanks Graham!
It also goes without saying that once you have good quality images (and a range of them) be sure to include them in your product feeds and label them accordingly so that all your eCommerce marketing partners can make effective use of them too!

almost 3 years ago

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AZ

Good image do sell things.

Once a Chinese Taobao store owner told me he was very asurprised that UK retailers use only 4-5 images to sell a product, he would use between 10 and 30 photos on his online store to show the product inside, outside and from every angle to create trust.

almost 3 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

Thanks Lee, good tip.

@AZ Many retailers don't use even four or five.

almost 3 years ago

Stuart McMillan

Stuart McMillan, Deputy Head of Ecommerce at Schuh

Hi Graham, great post, lots of top tips.

You know me, always keen to fly the schuh flag, here are some things we've learned:

-more images are definitely good for conversion, we have 8 and have MVT tested them.

-360 is definitely popular, not yet run MVT on it. We have considered doing spherical (3D) or hemispherical 360.

- we've made sure that touch controls work, like swiping through the images, or controlling the 360.

almost 3 years ago

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Matt Fowler

Hi Graham this is a great article and there are ton of great pointers!

When it comes to online retail there is no question that great product imagery can be worth well over its weight in gold. That said I'm obviously partial to 360° and 3D (or spherical 360 as Stuart mentioned).

360 product imagery just offers so much more information for shoppers and with technology where it is its a lot less expensive than than people think! Another great advancement is that with the more advanced viewers (Sirv, Magic360, ShotFarm, Adobe Scene 7...) you can really get creative with the 3D options. Such as opening a bag or a folding chair as you move drag the item up and down.

almost 3 years ago

Antoine Becaglia

Antoine Becaglia, Digital Strategist at WebPropaganda Ltd

A good reminder for eTailers: images are sometimes the main component of the content that the consumer will check. We ve been advocating to show details of Limited Edition art works to show thickness of paint, paper etc...we've done the same with beauty products eTailer to show textures of products, open packages. This obviously require macro photo as well as 360. The hard part is to convince companies it is necessary.

almost 3 years ago

Paul Shearing

Paul Shearing, Head Of Product Development at Search Laboratory

A great post.

I always describe the importance by saying you are competing with shops where customers can pick product up, feel them, smell them, look at the details and quality. On-line will never offer 100% of this experience but the closer you can get with top quality images that describe the quality and detail the more likely someone will make that leap of faith and buy.

Lets not forget that a lot of people rarely buy on a first visit and keep coming back while deciding. Images that can engage, excite and create an attachment in the customers mind with do this better.

almost 3 years ago

Martin White

Martin White, Senior User Experience Manager at Sainsbury's

Another good tip is to wrap your product attributes, including your images, in the appropriate schema mark-up to improve visibility and accuracy in search engines: http://schema.org/Product

almost 3 years ago

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steve

Thanks for a great article - we see this a lot - and its strange how little effort is put towards the product imagery. In many ways, the same principle applied in bricks and mortar store...display it well and watch it sell :)

over 2 years ago

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steve

Thanks for a great article - we see this a lot - and its strange how little effort is put towards the product imagery. In many ways, the same principle applied in bricks and mortar store...display it well and watch it sell :)

over 2 years ago

Stephen McElrone

Stephen McElrone, Digital Marketing Executive at www.therughouse.co.uk

Great article I will be following up on the advice. Securing the budget is the next task.

over 2 years ago

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