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Retail Technology, Retail technology News

Flash doesn’t always mean online cash

Friday October 1 2010

Research shows e-retailers losing sales with rich media

Research shows e-retailers losing sales with rich media


More than one in two consumers abandon sales from websites as a consequence of having to download additional plug-ins to view rich media features like Flash, according to the 2010 Brandbank Retail Media Report.


Despite the many industry voices calling for a move towards rich media capabilities in e-commerce platforms, the research, which polled 2,255 UK consumer and was carried out by independent research group YouGov, found that, without careful planning, these features can be detrimental to sales.


Getting the basics right


Rather than demanding more interactive experiences, consumer’s main priorities when shopping online are seeing multiple product images and correct, comprehensive product information. Over two thirds (67%) of consumers said that they were put off buying a product where no product image is given and 61% were put off buying a product with limited textual information. Other top consumer gripes included poor quality product images (58%) and out-of-date product information (58%).


Having a lifestyle image to accompany a pack-shot was also important, with almost one in two (48%) consumers saying that they would not buy a product without seeing images of it being used in a real-life setting.


Compared to these basic priorities, rich media features such as zoom, 360-degree image rotation, video and audio came further down the priorities list of consumers. Furthermore, it emerged that their use can actually give rise to negative experiences and loss of sales. Over a third (39%) of consumers were deterred from buying by having to wait a long time for product videos or images to load, while over half (58%) were put off by having to download additional software or plug-ins to view product images or video.


Rob Tarrant, managing director at Brandbank, commented: “I think everyone in the industry is excited about the move towards media-rich features like 360-degree spin and, at Brandbank, we’re gearing up for this in a big way. However, while rich media is, undoubtedly, highly effective in certain situations, at this point it’s not appropriate to every retail sector. Talking to people heavily involved in the retail side of things, it’s apparent that, in terms of sales, the most effective web features are still the more basic alternative views, conceptual imagery and additional product information.”


Media savvy fashion and tech


The only two sectors where rich media emerged from the survey as notably high consumer priorities were fashion and technology. Around half of consumers stated that they had used image zoom when buying clothing (52%) and consumer technology (48%). This was more than double those who said zoom would be useful for buying pharmaceutical products (17%) and groceries (24%). A further 41% of consumers also found 360-degree image rotation useful when buying fashion products and 37% for consumer technology. This compares to less than one in ten consumers saying that they would find 360-degree image rotation helpful when buying entertainment products, cosmetics and groceries, and only 4% when purchasing pharmaceutical products.


The biggest difference in consumer expectations between sectors was the demand for multiple images of a product. While only one in ten (11%) consumers claim they would use multiple images when buying pharmaceutical products, a significant 56% said they would like to see multiple images of a product when purchasing clothing and accessories online and 55% for consumer technology.


Tarrant concluded: “The key issue for a retailer is striking the balance between design creativity and bottom-line sales. The time will come when widespread, sophisticated multimedia features will result in great conversion rates for retailers – and indeed this is already the case in the fashion and technology sectors. However, it’s not always appropriate – a tin of beans, for example doesn’t really need a video. It’s really a judgement call and consumers require different features from different verticals.”