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What it takes to create product images that sell

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How many times have you seen an image of a product and had your interest piqued, only to view the item firsthand and have the thought, “That’s not what I was expecting.”

Lentz_Kyle_Hamacher

Kyle Lentz, Hamacher Resource Group

It’s common, especially among home buyers. The staged images on a realtor’s website look perfect, then you actually tour the house and what you thought looked like a spacious living area turns out to be the size of a closet, and actually has a slight lean to the left.

The same holds true in the world of e-commerce — images can draw customers to a product. But what happens when the image used is outdated, wrong or misleading, or the product the customers receive doesn’t match the product they were looking at on your ­website?

One thing is for sure, customers don’t like to be bamboozled or misled when making a purchase online. Getting it correct the first time — when the products a shopper intended to purchase are exactly what they receive — builds trust and ­confidence.

Monica the Millennial luckily realized before she made a purchase on her favorite pharmacy site that there was something not quite right between the description of the product and the image of the product she was looking to buy. Her search criteria on one of the more popular pharmacy websites was ­Tylenol.

cdr-filler-opinion-750The first four images that came up were Tylenol Cold and Tylenol Sinus products. The package on the second item indicated Tylenol Severe Sinus Congestion & Pain Daytime, however, the description stated Tylenol Cold & Severe Congestion. Clearly, the item did not match the description. And it wasn’t difficult to determine because the first product was truly a cold item, while the third product was clearly defined as a sinus item.

What does this tell Monica about your site? If the basic step of ensuring an image and description match is overlooked, how can Monica trust that the information put forth on your site is accurate and credible?

Regulating this is a bit tricky, depending on how often your website is updated and the relationships you have with manufacturers and your image content providers. Overall package changes are much more confusing to customers than minor graphic changes that may go unnoticed.

Using Benadryl as an example, imagine the confusion it would create if your website portrayed the old package but your warehouse stocked and shipped the updated package. The challenge arises because there is no magic switch that lets a webmaster know when the existing inventory of an item has been exhausted and the redesigned package is available for shipment, especially if there was no UPC change with the graphic update.Hamacher product images column_benadryl

Many websites and manufacturers use the flow-through method and diminish current stock before sending out new stock, leaving a specific transition date indeterminable. Keeping up with these transitions can be a daunting task. Building strong relationships with your image providers and manufacturers will help ensure these changeovers are implemented as smoothly as possible. Also, scheduling an image update that coincides with the actual product launch date may eliminate some of the ­confusion.

Not only should you have a system in place to make sure your product images are the most current, but you also need to set high standards for image quality. Product images are a reflection of your pharmacy as a whole. Make sure they are representative, and bring your shoppers as close to the in-store experience as possible. Don’t allow bent or beat-up packaging with torn corners to be imaged. Include multiple sides and views of an item or searchable product information to mimic the shopper picking up and viewing the item in-store. Product photography should convey the relative size and volume, including additional views, such as out of package when appropriate. Also make sure the image file size is optimal for quick load times without sacrificing sharpness and detail.

According to James Chudley, in the article “How to Use Photos to Sell More Online” in Smashing Magazine, “Encouraging interaction by providing functions such as zoom and rotate leads to a satisfying user experience.”

Also, “If you are offering a larger view of a photo, make sure it is significantly larger.” Both are excellent insights and will help your customers make a decision whether to purchase the product or not. Mrs. Riley, a senior and an avid e-commerce shopper, relies on the ability to see larger images. Her eyesight isn’t what it used to be, and the increase in image size allows her to be sure she is getting what she wants.

Let’s face it, images are important because selling product is what you do. If the images are consistently incorrect or undesirable, it will greatly affect the success of your e-commerce site. A quality digital photograph not only makes shopping easier for your customers, it also enhances the user experience and helps support your overall retail brand.

A highly professional website, with top-of-the-line images, can influence customers to make a purchase. If they are trusting online shoppers, it will make them consider your brick-and-mortar location first when doing in-store shopping. These are all additional considerations if a retailer or supplier is trying to support an omnichannel experience.

Kyle Lentz is a health, beauty, and wellness category analyst and writer with Hamacher Resource Group Inc., which is a research, marketing and category management firm specializing in consumer health care at retail.


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