In these pages, we have frequently emphasized the need to bridge the online and offline customer experience. We believe—and we hope you agree—that the key to e-commerce success is to recreate thein-person experience within the online environment.
But as we know, buyers can’t use all five senses to examine a product. They are confined to sight and possibly hearing—if you are providing audio or video. Therefore, it is imperative that you provide enriched product information, which is naturally enhanced by great product imagery.
Peter Sheldon from Forrester has said that nearly 70% of your online customers rely on product-related content when they make a purchase decision. However, it is not uncommon to visit a third-party or “Big Box” retailer and see product information or imagery that differs from what you have on your B2B web site or in your printed catalog. When product information is missing, downstream partners may fill in the gaps, leave the information out completely, or utilize information that is out of date. They may source product imagery from “sister” products or use archived images. You need to be sure that your downstream partners have the correct imagery and product information they need to provide a stellar customer experience.
The Value of Great Product Imagery
We have all heard that a picture is worth 1,000 words, but did you know that our brains process visuals 60,000 times faster than text? And that people remember 80% of what they see, but only 20% of what they read?
According to inRiver partner, Snap36, having 360-degree product imagery on your e-commerce site can increase your sales by as much as 6%. Compare this to just a 4% impact for more product text and just 2% for including technical documentation. In addition, product photography can increase conversion rates by 47%, decrease product return rates by 40%, and reduce call center time by 50%.
Why does product imagery have this affect?
The answer is likely due to the ability of online customers to really get a “feel” for the product through imagery, which of course is augmented and enhanced by great product descriptions and accurate product specifications. When they buy the product, they have a pretty good idea what they will receive and that solves a lot of customer satisfaction issues down the line.
The need to invest
Some companies may question the value of product imagery. Although no one wants that “image not found” error or the blank box where the image should be, many companies might question the investment that is required to both create and manage their digital assets.
Not only do you need to invest in creating great product imagery, but also you need to invest in storing and managing those valuable assets. These assets are often scattered around a company, on hard drives, legacy systems, and in various departments. But managing them in one place—together with the rest of your product information—will ensure that you have your digital assets readily available for anyone who needs them—for any sales channel, at any time.
With inRiver, you can manage and store your digital assets directly in original file formats. Your assets will be quick to search, easy to find, and well-indexed for fast access. Your digital assets can use metadata from their related products, making it possible to find your assets based on searches like “all images of green t-shirts, for women, in 100% cotton in size XXL.”
With inRiver there is no need to use Photoshop for converting images. When working on a product, you simply connect the digital assets to the product, define how the assets should be displayed, in what channel, and let inRiver do the rest. inRiver will automatically scale, re-format and re-purpose the output into the correct file format, tailored specifically for each channel.
Companies are notorious for spending money on search engine optimization and PPC to increase rankings and get prospective customers to visit their sites. And we agree—search engine ranking is important.
But consider if you were to take some of the money you spend on search or advertising and use it for actually producing great product imagery and great product content. Imagine if you really let your products tell their story—what then? Not only would your SEO rankings naturally improve and your (potential) customers would be able to find your products more easily, but also they will actually buy products from you.
Kathryn Zwack, Senior Marketing Manager, inRiver