sproutrospectives

To Stand Out, Stand Apart: Amazon Image Takeaways

How optimizing each image frame in an online marketplace sets the stage for consummating sales. There is no substitute for an A+ storyboard.
Jack O'Farrell
June 23, 2021

"Pre-pandemic 33% of consumers had never shopped online. By just June of 2020, 25% of the 33%, had transitioned to online shopping."

- BOARD OF INNOVATION (2020)

“89% of those shopping online are more likely to buy products from Amazon than other e-commerce sites.”

- FORBES (2020)

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Perspective

Competition in ecommerce markets is fierce — and Amazon is the Coliseum of marketplaces. Since its debut in the ‘90s, this e-tail leader has fundamentally changed the way we shop — from consideration to evaluation, to purchase, and beyond. From‘a river of books’ to a torrent of service innovation, Amazon continues to set trends,raise bars, and demonstrate to consumers (and competitors) that we can expect more. For marketers, showing up is not enough. How your brand looks on an Amazon page determines whether consumers click in or click past. We studied tens of thousands of images across Amazon’s marketplaces to classify visual best practices and share these tips.

"On Amazon, every page load is an end cap."

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What You See is What You Want

Images are the most effective way to inform your customer and sell your product. After billions of clicks, Amazon understands what works. Their guidelines, which ratify the basics, also inform the guidelines of other e-commerce sites that take their lead from the leader. Over the years, we’ve studied thousands of Amazon product listings across several categories and subcategories. Along the way, we have also created thousands of images ourselves. Based on those audits and our work we created this checklist of five key principles you can apply to image creation for Amazon and other markets.

The Sprout Viz Five

1 Optimize Image One

2 Tell a Story

3 Define a Style

4 Vary Scale

5 Change Perspective

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1 Optimize Image One

You only have one glance to make a first impression. That glance can be fleeting online. So carefully plan this first best look. Assure that resolution, lighting, and composition are exquisite. Reveal differentiating features. Importantly, anticipate how the images to follow can reprise the look and feel of image one. The visual brand language of your hero image will guide the tone of the story to come. In the battle for brand attention and preference, uniform imagery trades at a premium. Make sure that your hero can be extended consistently across the rest of the storyboard.

"You only have one glance to make a first impression."

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2 Tell a Story

The image stack on an Amazon page invites you to tell a story about your product. Introduce your product in a context that announces to consumers that it is different and special. Reward that curiosity with a sequence of views that don’t just present product features but capture the imagination. Show how it might slip into the landscape of life. Or solve a recognizable problem.Or bring joy on its first use and thereafter. For best results, stick the landing on your final shot.Think of it as punctuation! It’s not just the last image, it’s your last chance to ask for the order.

Amazon Fact: 64% of shoppers click on the first three products of an Amazon search page, rarely scrolling further.

- CRAZYLISTER (2020) 

3 Define a Style

Our review of 7M+ products found that 92% of images had no backgrounds and in 16% the backgrounds were transparent. While differentiating your image amid a fog of images shot against a white wall is a challenge, it also clarifies the brief. Not to oversimplify but defining a visual brand language (VBL) that conveys your brand at a glance and which can be applied uniformly to an entire portfolio, is half the battle. First, agree on the positioning, lighting,materials, and size of the image within the frame. Customers learn to recognize similarly directed products in an instant, like visual muscle memory. Then, carefully compose context-setting elements. Finally, use specific depth of field and soft-focus choices to refine the grammar. When all are agreed, pens down. The beauty of CGI is its ability to replicate design details identically. Trust the specs.

Defining a visual brand language is half the battle.

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4 Vary Scale

Up to 22% of e-commerce product returns trace to customers who say that the product they received looked different than it did in images of it on the website. We interpret this statistic to mean that buyers don’t always understand the actual size, shape, or weight of the product. When they hold it in their hands or position it in their home, it is not what they expected. Failing to visually communicate product scale online is merchandising malpractice. For best results, show the product in use alongside a familiar lifestyle accessory or a common household item. If your budget can support it, show its size at a human scale by directing the addition of a hand or an arm.

Amazon Fact: 35% of Amazon shoppers select the first product on a search page.

- WEBFX (2019) 

5 Change Perspective

Buyers have been walking into shops, picking up products, shaking them, and spinning them around since the Silk Road. They use this tactile and visual examination to translate physical details into judgments about quality and craft. Which they then translate to price and value.Which determines whether they add to cart. Be sure to show your product from every angle that will answer the questions you know consumers will have. For products where the value proposition is new or different, consider product videos. They don’t just connect the dots,they leave lesser offers standing still.

Amazon Fact: 70% of Amazon shoppers never move past the first page of search results.

- SEARCH ENGINE JOURNAL (2018)

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About SproutViz

Sprout Viz is a product visualization studio focused on creating high resolution, photorealistic, computer-generated imagery (CGI), renderings, and animations. We help our clients define a visual brand language for their digital assets that will increase customer engagement with their brands, encourage purchase confidence, and stand out in a crowded digital economy.

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