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Give shoppers the big picture

Zoom tools, product hot spots, 360-degree spin - there are many ways retailers can rev up their online imagery

Using imagery online might be a simple concept but with technology becoming increasingly advanced, the options for manipulating images are expanding and the minimum that retailers should be doing to ensure the best user experience is also rising.

The first basic tool that is essential for fashion sites is the zoom tool. Customers will expect to be able to see the detail of a product and the fabric - a smaller image without zoom will raise suspicion in the customer that the product will not arrive looking the same as it does on screen.

Customers need to feel they are getting the same experience as if they had just walked into a store and the use of imagery can play a massive part in this. A number of view options is vital but other effects such as visual filtering can also enhance the user experience.

Colour options on a product page allow the user to see the same item in a range of colours without having to navigate away from the page. Max Childs, EMEA marketing manager at media publishing software firm Adobe Scene7, says: “Let the customer see what is available immediately. If the customer is looking for a colour and you don’t show it, you are missing a sales opportunity.”

Product hot spots are also increasingly popular on fashion sites. These ‘spots’ appear on product photography and by clicking on them users can either see product information in a drop-down box or be taken directly from the image to the product page and on to the checkout in a quick and easy process.

Childs believes the most effective use of imagery is to integrate multimedia views. “This means combining zoom, alternative views, 360-degree spin, video and so on,” he says. Lee Friend, managing director of online fashion photography firm Fashshot.com, believes 360-degree spin will become the norm on fashion sites, especially for the footwear market.

The sharp rise in social media means retailers should consider a more interactive use of images. Encouraging users to upload images of themselves wearing clothes they have bought is becoming ever-more popular, allowing customers to feel part of the site’s visual experience. The retailer thus builds a brand community through images. l

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