For Online Shoppers, Photos Can Influence a Purchase

Video didn't garner the same level of importance

Being able to touch and feel a product is important to many consumers, but it's not really an option when it comes to online shopping. Instead, visuals found on the product page—among other things—are used to drive and inform a purchase. 

Indeed, 83% of US smartphone users surveyed by Field Agent in March 2018 found product images and photos to be "very" and "extremely" influential. By comparison, just 36% of respondents said they are influenced by video when researching to buy a product. 

“Although product video has a lot of potential to engage shoppers, the Field Agent study offers a useful reminder that it doesn’t always supersede product images. Video consumes more data, takes time to load, takes time to watch and is generally more interruptive to the digital shopping experience,” said Andrew Lipsman, principal retail analyst at eMarketer.

“Oftentimes, static images convey enough information while providing a more seamless engagement,” he added. 

The Field Agent survey isn't the only one that illustrates a consumer's reliance on product photos. In a February 2018 survey from Salsify, 60% of US digital shoppers said they needed to see an average of three or four images when shopping online. And another 13% said they needed five or more.

When asked to select a favorite visual format, rough a third of respondents in the Field Agent survey felt standard product images suffice. Slightly less (29%) said a 360-degree photo best informs their choice, as the style encourages discovery.

Still, product videos are top of mind for many retailers. A recent survey of ecommerce professionals worldwide by Econsultancy and Conversion found that 34% of respondents currently offer product video as a tool to drive sales, and another 48% plan to use it. Just 18% of respondents said they had no plans to incorporate video. 

“Video’s real value in ecommerce may lie in moving consumers from consideration to conversion,” said Lipsman.