Could your product images be damaging your conversion rate without you knowing? Bright North undertook several months’ worth of research to identify online retailers’ biggest conversion challenges and analysed some of the largest ecommerce sites to find out what impact this might be having on their customer experience.

One well-known site we surveyed had more than 5% of their images either with broken links or missing altogether. When that translates into 5% of your visitors not converting, it starts to become a significant issue.

Why image optimisation matters

There are various aspects of an ecommerce site that merchants have to juggle to maintain consistent conversion rates, brand and customer experience, and product image quality is just one of these. 

It has often been considered a subjective metric and until recently there have been few serious attempts to measure image quality, or its effect on sales. There is, however, an increasing amount of research that identifies product image quality as an important aspect of customer and brand experience as well as conversion.

At Bright North, we’ve identified three major product image factors that have the biggest impact on conversion rates, along with some simple steps businesses can take to improve conversions and increase sales through better use of product images:

1.    Quality

Previously undefined, some of the largest commerce sites – Amazon, Google Shopping and eBay to name just a few – have started to define quantitative standards for image ‘quality’ in terms of its intrinsic quality, product positioning and quality of processing among other factors. 

AirBnB is a great example of a business that has reaped the rewards of great image quality, with a 250% increase in bookings for properties with professionally shot images. High quality photos have such a profound impact on their earnings that that AirBnB offers its customers a professional photography service for free. Practical eCommerce blog also found that customers presented with higher-quality product images are three times more likely to convert.

2.    Errors

Many merchants we speak to are often unaware of the negative impact of poor quality, incorrect or missing images on their customer experience, conversions and ultimately, their business. 

There are often multiple reasons for this, such as infrequent or non-existent image auditing procedures, unsuitable ecommerce platforms or a lack of industry standards. Many ecommerce software providers offer an auditing service, but businesses need to be savvy with their choice of provider to ensure a positive and consistent brand experience

3.    Load Time

Research has shown that larger product images can increase sales by up to 9%, but this is often at the expense of image load time, which can result in reduced sales of 4.3% for each two-second delay in page load time, according to performance auditor ZoomPF. 

We have also found that this negative effect on quality and load time on conversions is amplified on mobiles devices, as users are significantly less likely to scroll, refresh or wait to view content. It is therefore essential that visual content is optimised for both desktop and mobile.

Research by Amazon has found that in most cases you can reduce the size of your images by 20% or more without any impact to visual quality. In addition to this, optimised image sizes will have an added benefit in reducing bandwidth, and therefore costs.

Software is available that will automatically resize main images and thumbnails to do a product justice, but caution is advised to avoid being caught out by the multitude of over-promising suppliers.

How you can increase your conversions

In short, we’ve found that leading retailers who thoroughly optimise their images for the web see an immediate uplift in product sales, customer engagement and brand perception. When this is encompassed in a robust strategy that includes the more traditional facets of content, search, personalisation and cart optimisation, the benefits to a business are substantial.

We predict these standards will be more strictly enforced as our understanding of its advantages to ecommerce grows. Our latest whitepaper, ‘Image Quality and Ecommerce’, details some practical tips your team can take to quickly improve the overall quality of your product images.

Bright North will be in attendance at Performance Marketing Insights: London, taking place at the Westminster Park Plaza between October 28-29. Click here to book an appointment to meet the team.