This guest post from Ryan Jepson at Profitero offers some conclusions of an analysis of the content for over 1,000 products in the CPG (consumer packaged goods) vertical, which includes grocery and cleaning products.
The main point: Shoppers look at images. This makes thorough product-detail content that much more important, as shoppers may be likely to base decisions on what they find on those product pages.
In the following post, Ryan shares some examples from the analysis and 4 tips for brands to improve their visual content, even on retail sites that don’t have much flexibility.
What We Learned Analyzing the Visual Content of 1,000+ Products
Before they read, shoppers look.
A study published in 2015, which analyzed the eye movements of online grocery shoppers, revealed that shoppers tend to pay closer attention to product pictures and titles than to information on promotions and even product prices.
Strong visual content in CPG categories can signal:
- Quality: Is this a high-quality product?
- Accuracy: Is this the exact product I need?
- Desirability: Is this a product I want to buy?
In our review of 1,000 products in the cereal and household cleaning categories at major online grocers, we found 4 key visual differentiators of product pages:
- A large number of images
- Medium-to-large image sizes
- Ability to zoom images
- Presence of video on product pages
It’s important to note that not all retailers allow sellers the flexibility to add visual content to product pages. Walmart Grocery and FreshDirect, for example, appear to allow just 1 image per product page. And none we studied allowed as much flexibility as AmazonFresh and Amazon Prime Pantry.
Given the draw of visual content for shoppers, however, it’s likely that other online retailers will soon allow product pages to contain more visual information.
Here is a summary of what we found.
In broad strokes, AmazonFresh and Amazon Prime Pantry lead the pack in terms of the number of images per product page. Peapod, FreshDirect, and Walmart Grocery have just 1 image per product page. (Some FreshDirect pages allow a branding logo as a ‘second’ product image.)
Few products monitored across these retailers contain video, but video can likely improve sales: a 2014 study by Invodo showed that online shoppers were 1.6x more likely to purchase after viewing video.
Although the impact of video is probably smaller for CPG categories with less shopper engagement, video can still help a product stand out among competitors, allow consumers better views of new products they haven’t yet purchased offline, and showcase new products/new brands. Video can be particularly important for smaller brands that have little to no offline presence.
Let’s compare what all this looks like on actual product pages from these retailers.
Here, AmazonFresh and Amazon Prime Pantry present the shopper with 6 images carefully chosen to show different product angles, the product’s size relative to a human figure, and its ingredients and nutritional information. These stores also provide the option to zoom in on images.
Our take: For this product, Amazon stores successfully provide shoppers with multiple appealing, descriptive views of its products.
Peapod shows only one image of this product but allows the shopper to zoom to a higher-quality image.
Our take: Peapod can benefit from increasing the number of images per product page.
FreshDirect and Walmart Grocery product pages, on the other hand, contain only one image without zoom capability.
Our take: FreshDirect and Walmart Grocery product pages can benefit from more images, larger images, and image zoom.
4 Ways to Improve the Visuals of Your Product Content
For retailers that provide visual content enhancement and flexibility—Amazon shops in particular—visual content is key and can be improved in 4 ways.
- Increasing the number of images in line with category benchmarks (6-7 on AmazonFresh and Prime Pantry), and increasing image sizes (where allowed, such as Prime Pantry). Specific category benchmarks for Amazon categories can be found in Profitero’s Amazon FastMovers reports, published monthly.
- Adding video to key product pages to differentiate and showcase your products—especially newer products, newer brands, and products/brands with a smaller offline presence. One efficient way to add video content to product pages is to syndicate video at the brand level through a below-the-fold syndicator like Webcollage.
For retailers that do not allow visual enhancement, all hope is not lost. You can optimize these pages by:
- Carefully choosing primary images to be visually appealing and informative, such as a three-dimensional product view to better show packaging.
- Improving product titles and written content to answer the questions for which shoppers would naturally turn to images.
All analysis is based on Profitero’s monitoring of 1,061 product pages in the cereal and household cleaning products in the US. Product content data valid as of 4/24/15. AmazonFresh data based on New York and San Francisco zip codes, Peapod from New York and Chicago, FreshDirect from New York, and Walmart Grocery from Bentonville, Denver, and Phoenix.
Ryan Jepson is an analyst with Profitero, a leading global provider of eCommerce intelligence in Boston. He works closely with top CPG brands to measure and improve their online performance in areas such as product content, pricing, search rankings, and product reviews.