Optimising product images to stand out on e-commerce marketplaces

Time spent buying things online has increased dramatically over the past 2 years. Worldwide, time spent in shopping apps grew 49% year-on-year in Q1 2021. While this is good news for digital commerce, it also means competition is on the rise. This is especially so on e-commerce marketplaces, where sellers compete in specific product categories. Having to stand out from one another is a never-ending battle for online merchants, but with a bit of wit and grit put into image marketing, e-commerce merchants can definitely gain an edge over competitors. 

Making image thumbnails standout:
1. Use humour
2. Visually appealing and professionally shot product images
3. Emphasis on the problem and highlighting solutions
4. Before and after images
5. Colour psychology

Things to avoid: 
1. Pictures that mean nothing
2. Colour overload
3. Unreadable fonts

Making image thumbnails stand out

Use humour

An instant attention-grabber is an image with humorous intent. The first step in marketing – grabbing the attention of the consumer, checked, just like that. Here’s a witty example of a humorous and attention-grabbing listing done by one of our Carousellers featured below. 

(Image credit: Carouseller @wizardaircon.sg)

Visually appealing and professionally shot product images

While visual appeal is often subjective, the idea of professionalism has a more general consensus. Combining both elements together can bring forth another attention-grabbing factor to your image. Instead of simply taking a photo of your product and uploading it as a listing image, consider doing some quick edits with photoshop by removing the background and replacing it with a solid contrasting colour. This will help by placing visual emphasis on your product and removes any form of distractions like bad lighting and shadows, and at the same time gives it a more professional finish. Adding your company logo also gives it a professional boost.

(Image credit: Carouseller @edslrs)

Emphasis on the problem and highlighting solutions

More often than not, consumers are looking for a solution to a problem that they’re facing. Be it a tangible product or a service, they’re looking for something of functionality. Even a simple decorative item serves a function, to essentially decorate. Thus, it is worth highlighting certain problems and the solution your product can provide to your listing thumbnail. Even more so if you’re rendering a service. The simple act of placing emphasis on how you can provide solutions does wonders for consumers looking for quick and fuss-free servicing.

(Image credit: Carouseller @pestcontrolcompany)

Before and after images

If your product or service deals with a specific function, before and after images are probably one of the best kinds of visual references you can provide to consumers on how it can value-add to them. It is also relatively simple to do up and can be done without the need of any professional design skills. Just snap a picture before and after the use of your product or service, and put them side by side.

(Image credit: Carouseller @trusparklecleaningsolutions)

Colour psychology

Lastly, make use of colour psychology in your images to maximise attention-grabbing potential. While the idea of colour psychology seems like a daunting concept to understand, it’s actually rather simple. While we won’t delve into full details on how colours affect consumers’ buying decisions, we’ll touch on simple elements like how it helps consumers pick up visual cues. The use of red indicates excitement, often used in displaying prices. Blue, on the other hand, exudes a sense of strength and trustworthiness. Yellow brings a sense of warmth, and white is a neutral yet calming colour. Nonetheless, rather than using them individually, colours usually work together to create contrast so that emphasis can be placed on important details like prices. Done right, this opens up a world of possibilities for sellers who want to stand out from the crowd. 

(Image credit: Carouseller @snowflakesg.com)

Things to avoid

Pictures that mean nothing

With digital consumers getting more tech-savvy, this means attention spans are at their all-time low and many have built immunity to irrelevant content. Take badly placed ads on websites, the typical reader doesn’t even notice the ad simply because they’ve become good at filtering out content they’re not interested in. For example, if you service air-conditioning units, showing random aircon parts in your listing image is completely irrelevant to the consumer. They’re looking for solutions, and images that mean nothing to them will be instantly skipped or not even glanced upon.

Colour overload

Some tend to think splashing your image with a ton of loud and vibrant colours will help your listing stand out. That’s where it gets complicated. One, because poor use of colour psychology can backfire, and two, when colours are badly combined, they can be pretty painful to the eyes. Sure, they stand out, but they also deter people quickly because the visuals can be rather displeasing.

Source: Google images

Unreadable fonts

Sans serif fonts are always a safe choice for graphics that contain textual information, especially for e-commerce marketplaces where thumbnails tend to be small. Serif fonts can be potentially distracting and hard to read. Needless to say, it’s best to avoid fancy fonts unless you have an exceptional graphic designer who knows what they’re doing.

Source: Google images

While these are all tactics that have proven generally successful, it is important to continuously test through trial and error to see what works for your business. No business is the exact same as target audiences, branding and product offerings always differ. Hence, while we recommend these as general guidelines for e-commerce businesses, we also suggest testing multiple iterations to find out what best works for you. Good luck!