Product Images: the Power to Persuade

Seeing is believing. And in the case of product images, seeing can sometimes mean inspiring or convincing. In today’s ecommerce world, one of the best ways to demonstrate the appeal of products is with photographs.

Images are the rising stars of online shopping and, as the National Retail Federation reports, 67 percent of online customers say the quality of a product image is “very important” in selecting and purchasing the object.

Quality product images appeal to the senses and invite casual browsers to consider a product longer. They reinforce brand identity and spark emotion by telling stories about a product. And they help customers who, unlike those shopping in stores, cannot touch or feel the merchandise.

Appeal to Your Customers’ Senses

Product page designers seek to reach customers in much the way chefs do when they plate food, with an understanding that our eyes are the gateway to our senses.

Think back to the 1987 Danish movie Babette’s Feast. Babette, once a Parish chef of some renown and now a refugee in an austere Danish village, serves simple meals to pious churchgoers.

When she wins 10,000 francs in the lottery, she devotes her winnings to producing a true Parisian banquet for the congregation. Where only porridge and biscuits once sat, Babette fills a banquet table with French delicacies: potage a la tortue (turtle soup); blinis demidoff au caviar (buckwheat cakes with caviar and sour cream); and so on.

Shoelace ManufacturerThe meal works its Eucharistic miracles: the diners re-experience old loves, forgive old wrongs and are spiritually transported. Sure, yesterday’s porridge had provided all the sustenance they needed, but did it reignite their mothballed passions?

If you want to similarly transport your customers, think Babette.

Take for instance this website for an online shoelace store. It is clearly intended for users who know exactly what they need. There is no effort to entice browsers to think about the possibilities of shoelaces.

You may ask, “But how can you entice anybody with photographs of shoelaces?”

Take a look at what a splash of color can do for your kicks.

Shoelace Product Images

More than just providing a visual thrill, the photo above elevates the laces from an everyday workhorse into a stylish accessory. In this way, product images can be used to reinforce brand identity, which is often about ascribing aspirations to everyday objects.

Use the Power of Product Images to Build Your Brand

The photo that accompanies the Olympus TG-4 Waterproof Camera’s Amazon product description excels at expressing brand values. The camera is embedded in cracked clay, evoking wet and windswept beaches. Without any words, it tells us that the camera is a tool for intrepid travelers, and so it comes as no surprise that the brand’s tagline reads: “Think you’re tough? Prove it with the TG-4.”

Olympus Camera Product Images


The product images are used to seductively fit the brand and the camera into the customer’s adventurous lifestyle, and it supports the product page by adding an emotional draw to an otherwise informational arena.

Use Photos to Tell a Story about Your Product

Product descriptions can turn shoppers into buyers by demonstrating how a product enriches everyday life. Lifestyle photos that show people actually using merchandise can be helpful, especially for products that aren’t visual like the Bose Soundlink Bluetooth Speaker.

Bose Bluetooth Speaker Product Images

Here, photos show people playing music from the Soundlink speaker after a workout and on an outdoor walk. The images emphasize the speaker’s portability and cause the shopper to think about carrying music to unusual places.

The image of the speaker sitting by a cellphone also conveys crucial information – the Soundlink’s size and its Bluetooth compatibility – another key role for photographs on product pages.

Use Photos to Help Customers Who Can’t Touch Your Product

Consider the dilemma of the online shopper: they want the convenience of shopping from their comfy couch, but they have to buy without picking up, examining, or otherwise interacting with the product.Kohler Vanity

Photos can go a long way toward solving this dilemma.

Take a look at Lowe’s product page for the Kohler Clermont Oxford Bathroom Vanity. It is very simple and includes just one image. This makes it difficult for shoppers to get a sense of the craftsmanship and details that set this vanity apart.

The Kohler webpage, on the other hand, offers four pictures of the same vanity. The images simulate the shopper’s showroom experience. They can virtually stop when a product catches their eye and “lean down” for a closer look.

Putting It All Together

This Amazon page for the Calphalon Contemporary 11-piece Nonstick Cookware Set hits all the marks.

Calphalon Product Images

It has brand-consistent photos to inspire home cooks who are passionate about making amazing meals; it has product-in-use shots that show the capacity and special features of the cookware pieces, and it has informational images to help a shopper understand what they’ll get when they purchase the set.

It’s a feast of high quality photos that appeal to both the senses and the intellect.

Babette would be proud.


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