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There’s a difference between shopping at a brick-and-mortar store and shopping online. When you go out to the stores to go shopping, you need to get dressed and leave the house. When you’re shopping online at home, well… let’s just say the clothing requirements are less defined.

But the differences in how people shop go beyond how they get to the store and the dress code, whether they’re traveling down the road or clicking their way across cyberspace. And, the differences that have the most impact on sales are those related to the shopper’s decision-making process.

At a physical store with physical products, shoppers can see every angle and every view of a product. They can pick it up and can turn it in their hands. They can feel the surface and the weight. They can see the color (though fluorescent lighting can do strange things to the appearance of color). They can judge the quality of workmanship. They can test the levers and push the buttons. They can judge the size beyond its measurements.

This kind of exploration of and interaction with a product can help a shopper decide to buy (or to not buy) and to feel confident in that decision.

Shopping online eliminates the physical and tactile examination of a product. Consumers must rely on things like the store’s reputation, product reviews, written specifications or descriptions and two-dimensional photographs to determine if a product is worth the price and satisfies their needs and expectations.

Online stores must be able to provide as much information as possible to help the consumer decide to buy. And guess what? A picture is worth a thousand words.

It’s not uncommon for an online store to show a small thumbnail image for each product on catalog or category pages. But when a user gets to the product detail page, that image should be much larger.

The image should enlarge to a size that shows the details of the product, such as the stitching, the construction, the texture, the fittings. Even better, since devices can vary in size, and an enlarged image could still appear small on the screen, the image should be zoomable, whether that is via the “pinch” features of a smartphone or a slider or magnifying glass, as seen on Connection.com below.

ecommerce image example 1

For higher-priced products, the images need to be even more representative. Not only should they be large and detailed, there should also be multiple views, allowing the user to see the front, back, side or even specific details of the product or how it is used.

ecommerce example, Sears

And for even higher-priced products, video or interactive 360-degree imagery should be employed.

ecommerce example, 360 view

Allowing the shopper to explore in a way as close as possible to an in-store experience can increase their confidence in the product and their decision to buy.

The images also lend credibility to your store and help you stand out. Using high-quality professional photos instead of blurry, poorly-lit photos taken with your phone conveys professionalism and evokes trust. Hiring a professional photographer every time you have a new product can be expensive. If you are selling someone else’s products, contact the manufacturer and see if they have product photos you can use. If you are taking your own, make an investment in your equipment and take an introductory photography class.

Bonus: Another reason to ensure images are high quality is that they are shareable and can compel other potential users to visit your site and eventually buy.

 

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