First impressions count when selling online. Images are an essential component when trying to stand out from the crowd and attract customers. Clearly, images drive consumer confidence, but with the rise of what industry analysts are calling “visually-driven commerce,” these are no longer just a nice addition, they’re a requisite for success.
Industry leaders such as Amazon, eBay and Google Shopping aim to enhance customer experience by allowing users to interact with products in a way that closely mimics an in-store experience – allowing the shopper to get a true feel for the product. To improve their shopping experience, each of these channels have recently announced a new set of upgrades to their image requirements that, if not followed, could result in a retailer’s products not being listed.
Each channel has individual new image requirements and it is important for retailers to be aware of them so they can avoid being penalised and continue to sell across these sites. Julia Priddle, head of account management, EMEA at ChannelAdvisor outlines the latest updates for each marketplace, and how a retailer can comply and continue to realise the benefits of selling on these large channels.
According to research from Amazon, images improve the overall experience for customers as it is easier for customers to find, evaluate and purchase products.
Amazon introduced new requirements in July 2013 that affect how retailers should list on the channel. Amazon announced that it will suppress any listings that are missing a main image from its search and browse bars across its EU marketplaces. All listings will still be visible to customers, but only if they navigate directly to the listing via the product code rather than searching through keywords in the browse bar or through the browse nodes. This change impacts most categories, with the exception of media (such as books and DVDs), automotive and auto parts, industrial and scientific and trading card categories.
Amazon is also strict in its requirement that images must accurately represent the actual product for sale with minimal or no propping and it insists that listings must not show excluded accessories or props that may mislead the consumer. Text that is not a part of the product, any inset images, watermarks or logos are also against Amazon’s policy.
In keeping with the trend for large and clean imagery, Amazon requires that products fill 85% or more of the image space and the picture must be a minimum of 500 pixels in either height or width as this enables the zoom function. All Amazon images must have a completely white background to blend in with the search and item detail pages.
To ensure retailers are adhering to these requirements, sites such as Remove the Background can be of assistance to retailers who do not have the in-house resources to create images with white backgrounds.
By Autumn 2013, new requirements for images on eBay will be applicable to retailers worldwide. Similar to Amazon, eBay will require the size of the image to be at least 500 pixels on the longest side, with excess decoration removed. However, eBay will permit the use of watermarks for attribution purposes.
In addition to this, eBay is restricting the use of stock images from the eBay Catalogue for used items to avoid confusion to the buyer in terms of the quality of the item being sold. While a stock image can be used for second-hand items, it cannot be the primary image representing the item for sale. Items in Books, Movies, Music and Video Game categories are exempt from this particular restriction; however, Video Game Consoles must adhere to it. Finally, all listings must have an image, with categories such as tickets as the only exception for security reasons.
The fact that the majority of the space given to each Google Shopping advert consists of the product photo is evidence in itself that images are key for sales on this channel. What’s more, retailers who focus on differentiating their products from the pack through photos will be a step ahead of the competition. Google Shopping has now recommended that retailers use images of at least 800 pixels so they are clearer on high-resolution displays.
While there are software solutions available that will increase the size of images, it may affect the quality. Retailers are advised to re-take images with a higher resolution so that if this recommendation from Google Shopping were to ever become a requirement, they are prepared.
The latest changes to image rules across these channels emphasises the importance of visuals when attracting customers online. We recommend that retailers familiarise themselves with these latest requirements, but consider these as the minimum to being compliant.
Retailers should aim to make high-resolution, clean photography an essential part of their e-commerce strategy. It is the savvy retailers who are taking the next steps to incorporate rich, interactive imagery wherever possible, allowing them to gain credibility with buyers and drive revenue.