Before the dominance of e-commerce, shopping was traditionally a tactile experience for consumers. That explains why clothing stores have fitting rooms, book stores allow a flick through, and wine galleries hold tastings. Some of these experiences clearly are not replicable online, but with 60% of sales happening through online marketplaces, online retailers have to find a way of recreating this interactivity with products prior to purchase. The answer? High-quality photos. Indeed, images are more important than ever in getting consumers to buy a product.
A great product description — and even a great marketplace platform — will be wasted if the images displayed are not good enough. Here are a few reasons why images are so important, and some steps a marketplace owner can take to make sure they are doing their products justice.
A Picture Tells A Thousand Words
Airbnb famously doubled their revenue after realising poor quality images were leading to poor conversions. They did so, in their early days, by going to listed apartments themselves and taking high-quality photographs. The moral of the story? A great image tells a thousand words … and can lead to thousands, if not millions of conversions. Here are a few need-to-know reasons.
Most people skip the reading part
People do not generally read through detailed descriptions on the web, unless they are very interested in the content. This has been accepted for years and was extensively researched by Jakob Nielsen. As an example, Amazon’s product descriptions are written in bullet points so that buyers can find the exact specification they want to know. The prominence of SEO, subheadings and keywords also encourage brevity in to-the-point product text. With less written content, and many customers not reading it anyway, images become even more vital for sales.
Images are highly shareable
Images are best for sharing: proven by the fact that purchases are increasingly made through image-reliant social media. According to a Market Force survey, as many as 81% of consumers’ purchasing decisions are influenced by their friends’ social media posts. AdWeek have also found that customers are 6 times more likely to purchase a product if the page includes pictures from social media.
The differentiator here is the image-centric shareable social media model, and not a focus on prioritising product descriptions. Shareability has become an economy all of its own. So for B2C marketplace this means that they cannot overlook the importance of quality product images.
The SEO image boost
Text optimisation is important, and having detailed product descriptions with specifications is still the only way to convey detailed information about products so customers know exactly what they are buying. However, when it comes to SEO, it is not just text that counts. Images can also be very effectively leveraged to boost the SEO of a product page. Separate images include file names, captions, and can rank in image search, bringing more visitors to a page. All of this information is used by search engines. Therefore, if cleverly utilised, images can give a surprising boost to a page’s rankings in search.
The Right Image For A Marketplace
Arikrea is an African fashion marketplace that understands high-quality colourful images are key
Now that the importance of images for B2C marketplace’s success has become clear, it is time to put that into action by ensuring a high standard of visual product content. Here are a few actionable tips on how to use images effectively for a marketplace in order to get as many conversions and visits to the platform as possible.
Have a clear picture guideline
A marketplace owner should share an easy to understand picture guideline with the vendors, and have it upheld in the marketplace back-office too. These guidelines should be decided on in-house, carefully considered, and clearly articulated to vendors so they are easy to comply with.
For example, as of last year, page speed is a factor in search rankings. Very high-resolution images will adversely affect this, however, high-resolution images are clearly important in building trust with buyers. So in this instance, a marketplace may wish to go as far as asking vendors for a specific image DPI in their guidelines.
Make time for image moderation
As a marketplace typically deals with countless listings, it is important that images are tailored to the website, and not the other way around. It is also vital to keep track of listings and their images through content moderation to make sure they are meeting the required standards. That way marketplace owners can avoid images that misrepresent the product, that are of another product entirely, or simply are not sufficiently high-quality to give customers an impression of what they are buying. A well-moderated platform, aside from earning user trust, will contain images that are aligned with the quality it wants its brand to transmit.
A marketplace must ensure it is providing the best images for customers who, rightly, place trust above all else. They want to get as close to seeing and feeling a product as possible before making a purchase — even in the virtual world. By spending time on content moderation, and making sure high-quality, relevant and useful images are provided, a marketplace business can create a feeling of trust amongst its customers, which, ultimately, will boost GMV, liquidity and other key marketplace metrics.