Product images are an important component in e-commerce marketing and the primary way for users to inspect and evaluate products. Research has shown that a variety of image types are needed for an optimal consumer experience.
Dec 24, 2023
For digital shopping experiences, product images play a pivotal role in consumer decision-making. As the primary tool for inspecting and evaluating products, high-quality and diverse product images have become indispensable for e-commerce, often serving as the primary way for users to inspect and evaluate products, substituting the experience of physically handling them. Baymard Institute reports that 56% of users first engage with these images upon visiting a product page, prioritizing them over reading titles or descriptions. This underscores the need for a variety of image types on e-commerce sites, as outlined in these guidelines. However, a significant shortfall exists for many e-commerce websites. According to their research, 28% of e-commerce sites provide only 1-2 angle images, inadequately meeting the user's need for detailed visual inspection. This is particularly insufficient for products where aesthetics and specific features are crucial, such as electronics, furniture, and apparel, which require a diverse range of imagery, typically 5-15 different types of product images.
3-5 Product Images for Each Product
Product images have emerged as a vital aspect of online shopping, often being the first element users interact with on product pages. Testing shows that 56% of users start by exploring images, even before reading product titles or descriptions, regardless of whether the product is spec-driven like electronics or visually-driven like apparel. These images form users' initial impressions and are crucial for their preliminary evaluation. Most e-commerce sites understand this, providing multiple images even for simpler products, creatively showcasing them in various contexts to engage users. However, testing identified a need for specific types of images: those showing products "In Scale," highlighting features, and presenting multiple angles. If accessories are included, an additional image should show the product with these accessories.
In practice, this means each product typically requires at least 3 to 5 images, with no observed issues handling up to 10-15 images per product. High-quality images are essential; low-resolution or poor-quality images negatively impact user perception and can lead to abandonment. While users may not appreciate the cost of providing high-quality images, they judge a product and the site based on the images presented. The challenge varies between brand sites, which can easily produce multiple images for their products, and traditional e-commerce platforms selling products from various vendors. For these sites, it's essential to at least source or create high-quality images for key product verticals and best-selling items. To justify the investment in more images, A/B testing can be used to monitor the return on investment, particularly for high-traffic products or categories.
Product Images with Scale Reference
In physical stores, assessing the scale of products like refrigerators or smaller items like shoes is straightforward for shoppers, but this immediate sense of size is challenging to replicate online. During Baymard's UX testing, a significant 42% of subjects tried to gauge product size from images. However, traditional "Cut Out" images, which show products on a plain background, often fail to convey accurate size. This leads users to work harder to determine sizes or draw inaccurate conclusions. "In Scale" images, which place products in typical environments or alongside familiar objects, are crucial in helping users understand product size. For instance, showing a refrigerator in a kitchen setting or a hand cream bottle next to a water bottle can provide a clear sense of scale.
The importance of these "In Scale" images is evident when UX research subjects compare similar products. Baymard reports that users respond more positively to products with "In Scale" images, as they could easily determine the product's size. These images also help users visualize how the product fits into their lifestyle. For products that are worn or used directly, like backpacks or kitchen mixers, showing them in use or in relevant settings helps users understand their size and utility. Additionally, for e-commerce sites with large product catalogs, sourcing or creating "In Scale" images for key products or bestsellers is recommended, while computer-generated images based on product dimensions can be a feasible alternative for the rest of the catalog. This approach ensures users get a realistic understanding of product size, enhancing their shopping experience.
Feature Callout Product Images
E-Commerce User Experience Research (2023)