Closing the m-commerce gap with mobile-ready images

mobile foodThese days, the majority of product-related online searches lead customers to big retail sites such as Amazon. In order for brands to make an impact, they must have an optimised presence on such sites, and understand that these are more than just a commerce play.

Retail sites are more than just a place to sell, they are brand and marketing platforms, an information destination and an opportunity for brands to engage with and attract new shoppers. Although some shoppers might have no intention of buying from a particular site, they are still visiting the platform; researching and gathering product information, comparing prices and reading reviews to inform a purchasing decision that may take place in a physical store at a later date.

Most brands are privy to the highly influential role the digital shelf plays in their consumers’ purchasing decision, but not all have recognised the role of mobile devices in online retail execution. According to IRI research, almost one in two Australians search for product information whilst shopping on mobile devices. Social media is another important way to engage with shoppers but is also a way to convert “browsers” to buyers.

Research by Wolfgang Digital suggests that shoppers are twice as likely to convert to sale through social media sites, relative to standard sites. This demonstrates the power of social media in driving followers to purchase. However, this does not supersede the primary benefit of the platform which is to facilitate product discovery and drive brand awareness through the consumer’s network of family and friends. With 52 per cent of Australians learning about new products from a friend or family member online, it’s clear how important social media is in every Australian brand’s digital toolkit. The majority of this activity takes place on mobile devices, so it’s imperative that brands adapt their content to provide a better experience for their consumer.

The limited screen real estate on mobile devices means that online browsing poses a number of challenges to brands. A number of m-commerce conversion gaps are largely driven by user experience. Consumers can experience frustration when unable to find a product or struggling to view images and content properly. This can result in incorrect identification of the product or incorrect ordering of size or quantity. A mobile-first approach is needed to overcome these issues.

Mobile ready images are created specifically for online retail sites to act as the primary image in search, allowing online shoppers to fast-vertical scroll through search results on any screen size (mobile, tablet, laptop and desktop), while still allowing the shopper to recognise the brand, format, variant and packsize/packcount. There are a variety of image types that brands can use to ensure that their products appear legible online. Below are some examples of layouts that communicate the important of pieces of information that the shopper needs to facilitate discovery on a mobile device:

  1. Full Square image: Image uses the full square of the canvas to show the product packaging, communicating everything the shopper needs to know, from variant to pack-size.
  2. Size only: In this instance, the packaging communicates the brand and variant clearly, but does not allow for the pack-size/count, so an additional call-out needs to be added alongside the product image.
  3. Landscape with stripe: The product image shape is a landscape dimension but does not communicate the variant or size, therefore a horizontal strip is added to communicate these attributes.
  4. Portrait with stripe: This type is similar to the above except the product image is portrait dimension, and therefore needs a vertical strip to communicate the attributes of the product.

The above are just some examples of layouts that brands can adopt, and are by no means an exhaustive list. Variations from this can be found for products that have different challenges in communicating key features of a product, but ultimately they have one thing in common – they are trying to optimise what they communicate within the limited real estate of the image section of the website.

The increasing importance of the role of mobile devices in a brand’s marketing strategy, means that content needs to be adapted to provide a frictionless online shopping experience for consumers. With 45 per cent of e-commerce transactions in Australia converted on a mobile device, brands and retailers need to think mobile-friendly first and desktop second. Adopting this type of approach will reap rewards, as 67 per cent of Australians say that they would find it difficult to give up their smartphones, meaning mobile devices will continue to play an important role in a brand’s strategy for online execution.

Ruth Butler, e-commerce development partner at IRI.

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