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Best practice: Optimize product images for Amazon and mobile commerce

It is no secret that buyers tend to rely more and more on product images when shopping online. Images are usually the first and most important point of contact with a product, especially in mobile shopping. However, classic product images are often not optimized for mobile devices and marketplaces such as Amazon. In this article, you will discover how to exploit the potential of modified product images and what you should pay attention to when creating them.

A product with off-pack info
Modified packaging images on the product detail page and in the mobile search results (Source: screenshots amazon.com)

Note: Particularly in mobile shopping, consumers pay more attention to visual content. You can increase conversion by placing information clearly on your product images.

Optimized Amazon product images: the four Ws

It is often not enough to just use a photo of the physical item as a product image on an online marketplace. Additional information in product images should vary depending on the product group. Ideally, you should adapt the information to the needs of your target group. The aim should be to provide customers with all the information they need to make a purchase decision after seeing the very first product image. This aspect is particularly important considering that customers frequently multitask during mobile shopping.

To provide customers with all relevant information, it is necessary to answer the so-called four Ws:

  1. Who is the brand? Brand names should appear prominently in the image to ensure optimal recognition.
  2. What is it? The image should visualize the product type. Integrating functional product names (e.g. “charging cable” or “tomato sauce”) can help the customer quickly identify what type of product they are dealing with.
  3. Which variety is it? Features that distinguish the item from other products of the same brand and product type (e.g. flavor or color) should be clearly visible.
  4. HoW much of it is there? Quantities such as the number of products in a package or the net weight should be quickly accessible to customers.

A comprehensive content relevance analysis can help to determine the information relevant to the purchase decision.

Some vendors on Amazon already use optimized product images:

The familiar blue design with blue writing from Finish speaks for itself and answers the first two Ws. Users immediately recognize which brand and which product is being sold. The packaging image clearly displays the number of rinsing cycles, which serves both as a distinctive feature and as a quantity indication. Therefore the Ws 3 and 4 are answered simply and directly in the picture.

A product with off-pack info
Product image with clear additional information on the product detail page (Source: Screenshot amazon.com)

The advantages of mobile-optimized product images for Amazon users:

Clarity

The picture looks tidy.

Relevant information

It contains the most important characteristics for the purchase decision.

Time-saving

Customers see directly what they are going to get and buy without having to check the text.

Digital Pack vs. Off-Pack: Alternatives to conventional packaging images

Product images with additional information make it easier for customers to see at a glance in the Amazon search results whether the respective product is relevant to them. The Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) segment already has a large number of these product listings.

Two options are available for integrating and elaborating information. Depending on the product type, either so-called Digital packs or off-pack elements are usually used.

There are official standards with best practice guides for both options, for instance from GS1 and Cambridge University. Depending on the platform and marketplace, the guidelines must be followed for alternative product images to be approved. The aim is to improve the shopping experience through better comparability and clarity.

Digital packs – the optimized packaging twin

Digital packs are the more elegant way of product image optimization. Unlike the examples used above, no information is inserted next to the packaging. Instead, the packaging itself is digitally modified. It is a digital representation of conventional product packaging.

Best practice for Digital packs, by factor-a:

Amazon_digital_pack
Product image optimized for Amazon. The Digital pack provides users with information on brand, product type and quantity (Source: factor-a part of Dept)
Produktbild_Amazon_vorher
Product image before optimization. The product type and quantity are not directly visible. (Source: factor-a part of Dept)

The appearance of Digital packs should correspond as closely as possible to the physical packaging so that the customer recognizes the product in the shop. However, small changes are possible.

For example, visual elements that appear too small or illegible on the packaging can be easily removed to make more efficient use of the limited space. Important elements that answer one of the W questions can and should be enlarged – without reducing recognizability of the packaging.

In our best-practice example, the brand logo, product type and quantity were made more visible. Customers can see rightaway how many cans a pack contains. The design of the packaging is nevertheless clearly recognizable.

Note: When creating the Digital packs, always consider whether a visual element responds to one of the 4 Ws or is essential to the recognizability of the product. If both do not apply, the element should be removed from the Digital pack.

Off-Pack elements – information next to the packaging

Sometimes it is not possible to include all relevant information on the Digital pack as it would affect the visual clarity of the image. This problem can occur especially with flat or thin packaging. Therefore, many manufacturers use so-called off-pack elements. These graphic elements containing relevant information are often placed next to the product.

Product image Amazon_Off-Pack
Product image on Amazon with target-group-specific off-pack information on ingredients and flavor (Source: screenshot amazon.com)

Alternatively, if the product photo does not contain packaging, various icons can be used in the first product image to highlight product characteristics. The toy in the following example can be used several times, it supports baby teeth during development and is made of BPA-free material. This allows potential buyers to find relevant information faster when browsing for baby toys.

Product image_Amazon_Toy
Baby toys with purchase relevant information in the first product image (Source: screenshot amazon.com)

However, utilizing off-pack elements is controversial in various guidelines. According to the GS1 guidelines, for example, they limit the visual clarity of the image. Nonetheless, off-pack information is considered acceptable in the Mobile Ready Hero Images guidelines by Cambridge University unless the 4 Ws can be answered somewhere on the Digital pack.

Note: When it comes to product images, various online marketplaces and online shops follow different guidelines, which can change constantly. We therefore recommend that you always create both versions of a product image – with and without off-pack elements.

Also Amazon has specific guidelines regarding the main product image. For example, according to the latest policy, it must have a white background. It may only show the product and may not contain any logo, watermark or pictures within the image. At the end of the day, however, customer satisfaction is a top priority for the retail giant. Product images with additional graphics can therefore be in the interest of Amazon and are widely tolerated. If the upload does not work the first time, the problem can usually be solved via Case management.

Conclusion: Optimize product images to increase sales on Amazon

Potential customers need relevant information to make a purchase. Depending on the target group and category, these can be very different. When buying snacks, for example, the brand is important for some customers while others value the product type (chips vs. crackers) or the flavor (paprika, oriental) more.

So, why not place essential information directly on the main product image? In the ideal case, the customer sees the first picture, the corresponding price and quickly decides to buy.

factor-a creates optimized Amazon product images for you and supports your products with sales-boosting content. Our international Amazon content team has already successfully implemented over 3000 projects in 5 languages for renowned brands. Optimize your product listings now!

About the author

Florian Von Riegen

Editor

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