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Visual Vocabulary: Using Imagery for Better eCommerce Communication

In the absence of the physical touch and feel experience offered by brick-and-mortar stores, eCommerce businesses must rely heavily on visuals to engage, persuade and ultimately convert visitors into customers. In this article, we explore the significance of imagery as a fundamental element of eCommerce communication and discuss how different visual formats are effective in conveying product benefits, brand identity and improving user engagement.

Don't have the time to read the article? Listen to the Real eCommerce podcast episode on this topic!

What are the benefits of high-quality visuals on an eCommerce website?

Enhanced User Experience: high-quality visuals create a more engaging and enjoyable browsing experience for users.

Increased Trust: professional images convey reliability and trustworthiness, encouraging potential customers to make purchases.

Improved Conversion Rates: high-quality product photos have proven to yield a 94% higher conversion rate compared to their low-quality counterparts.¹ Attractive visuals can lead to higher conversion rates as they can better showcase product details and appeal. 

Reduced Return Rates: clear and detailed images help customers make informed purchasing decisions, reducing the likelihood of returns due to unmet expectations. Quality and accuracy in visual depictions are crucial – 75% of consumers will return a product if the image displayed doesn’t match the product received.²

Boosted SEO Performance: high-quality visuals can improve SEO through optimised image search and enhanced website engagement metrics. Product pages with photos attract 95% more organic traffic.¹

Brand Identity Reinforcement: consistent, high-quality visuals strengthen brand identity and make your eCommerce website more memorable.

Competitive Advantage: professional visuals can set an eCommerce store apart from competitors, making it more attractive to potential customers.

The Power of High-Quality Images

First Impressions Matter

During Baymard’s large-scale usability testing, 56% of users immediately explored product images after reaching a product details page.³ In Etsy’s buyer surveys, 90% of shoppers said the quality of product photos were “extremely important” or “very important” to a purchase decision.⁴ 

The first interaction a potential customer has with your product is often visual. High-quality images can make or break that initial impression. They provide a clear, detailed view of the product, allowing customers to examine it closely, which builds trust and reduces uncertainty. This is particularly important in online shopping, where customers cannot physically touch or try out the product.

Images are powerful tools for showcasing the features and benefits of a product. Rather than relying solely on descriptive text, high-resolution images can effectively convey key aspects of the product, such as its design, functionality and quality. From close-up shots highlighting intricate details to 360-degree views offering a comprehensive perspective, these visuals enable customers to make more informed purchasing decisions.

Interactive Visuals

3D product photography, 360-degree viewing and zoomable close-ups can significantly enhance user engagement. These features allow customers to interact with the product, providing a more immersive and detailed experience.

Customers can rotate and zoom in on 3D models, exploring the product from every angle. This level of interaction can be particularly beneficial for complex products, such as electronics or machinery, where understanding the details is crucial.

For instance, an online camera store might use 3D imagery to allow customers to explore the intricate details of a camera that has multiple features, such as buttons, ports and lenses. 

Such interactive features not only improve the user experience but also increase the perceived value of the product. Customers appreciate the ability to scrutinise a product closely before making a purchase, which can reduce uncertainty and boost confidence.

Augmented Reality (AR) 

Research by Shopify revealed that VR, AR and 3D images resulted in a remarkable 94% conversion lift on average.⁵

Augmented Reality (AR) is transforming the eCommerce landscape by offering customers an immersive shopping experience. AR allows customers to visualise products in their own environment through their smartphone or tablet. For example, a home decor retailer can offer an AR feature that lets customers see how a piece of furniture would look in their living room.

This technology can significantly enhance the shopping experience by providing a realistic sense of scale and context. It reduces the guesswork involved in online shopping, leading to higher customer satisfaction and reduced return rates.

Lifestyle Imagery

60% said a lifestyle image was more likely to capture their attention than a regular packshot.²

Supplementing product photos with lifestyle imagery helps customers envision themselves using or benefiting from the items. Lifestyle shots that depict products in real-life settings or scenarios resonate with consumers on a deeper level, making the shopping experience more relatable and aspirational. 

Baymard Institute research found that 42% of users rely on product images to gauge the size of a product.

By displaying ‘In Scale’ images, such as showing the product within a typical use environment, people interacting with the product or illustrating the product in use, potential buyers can get a sense of scale and how the item looks in certain spaces. 

Visual Testimonials

80% of consumers are more likely to buy a product from an online store if it had real customer photos and videos on the website.⁷

Visual testimonials combine the power of customer reviews with the impact of visual storytelling. They can include photos or videos of customers using your products, along with their feedback and experiences. This type of content can be more persuasive than written reviews, as it adds a human element and can convey genuine emotion and satisfaction.

For example, a fitness brand might showcase video testimonials of customers sharing their fitness journey and how the brand's products have helped them achieve their goals. 

Infographics

Infographics are powerful tools for breaking down complex information into easily digestible visuals. For products with numerous features or technical specifications, infographics can simplify and visually organise this data, making it easier for customers to understand at a glance. They can highlight key benefits, compare products and provide essential information in a visually appealing format.

Take, for instance, a technology retailer selling laptops. An infographic could visually compare different models based on specifications like processor speed, RAM, storage and battery life. This not only helps customers quickly grasp the differences but also aids in making a more informed choice.

Infographics are often more engaging than plain text and can capture the audience's attention more effectively. This increased engagement can lead to higher conversion rates, as customers are more likely to remember and act on information presented in a visually engaging format.

Visual Storytelling

Produce compelling visual narratives that communicate your brand's story, values and unique selling propositions. Whether through curated image galleries, behind-the-scenes footage, or fun ‘meet the team’ photos, storytelling adds depth and personality to your brand, forging stronger emotional connections with your audience.

Best Practices for Using Visuals in eCommerce

Consistency is Key

Consistency in visual elements is essential for reinforcing brand recall and establishing a cohesive brand identity that resonates with customers. Ensure that your images, infographics and visuals follow a consistent style that reflects your brand's aesthetic. 

Optimise for Performance

High-quality visuals are important but they should not compromise the performance of your eCommerce website. Optimise images and other visual elements to ensure fast loading times as slow-loading pages can lead to higher bounce rates and lost sales. Use appropriate file formats and compression techniques to balance quality and performance.

Mobile Responsiveness

With the increasing use of mobile devices for online shopping, it's crucial to ensure that your visuals are mobile-responsive. Interactive imagery, infographics and videos should display correctly on different screen sizes, providing a seamless experience for mobile and tablet users. Mobile-friendly design is critical for reaching a broader audience and maximising engagement.

Accessibility and Inclusivity

Ensure that your imagery is accessible to all users, including those with disabilities. Provide alternative text descriptions for images and strive for diversity and inclusivity in your visual content to reflect the diversity of your audience.

A/B Testing 

Continuously monitor the performance of your imagery through A/B testing and analytics to identify what resonates best with your audience. Experiment with different visual elements, layouts and messaging to optimise conversion rates and enhance the overall user experience.

High-quality visuals are essential for effective eCommerce communication, enhancing user experience, building trust and significantly boosting conversion rates. For businesses looking to incorporate engaging visuals into their eCommerce landing pages or build a new eCommerce website, Real Agency offers expert support. Contact us today to transform your eCommerce store with stunning visuals that captivate and convert.


¹ https://www.businessdit.com/product-photography-statistics/
² https://www.nfinite.app/blog/report-state-of-shopper-in-2022
³ https://baymard.com/blog/ensure-sufficient-image-resolution-and-zoom
⁴ https://www.etsy.com/seller-handbook/article/147451496051
⁵ https://www.shopify.com/uk/blog/3d-ecommerce
⁶ https://baymard.com/blog/in-scale-product-images
⁷ https://www.nosto.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Stackla-Post-Pandemic-Shifts-in-Consumer-Shopping-Habits-Data-Report_FINAL_compressed.pdf