Photography affects online sales

We want to share some interim results from our current survey looking at how photography affects consumer’s attitudes to online shopping, which makes fascinating reading for businesses, retailers and commercial photographers alike.

What consumers want to see

The success of any business is based on knowing your customer, anticipating their needs and making sure you meet them. Photographic images play a vital role in the customer’s online experience and we know that consumers are getting better at photography themselves – which businesses need to take notice of – because as consumers improve their own photographic skills, businesses are going to have to raise their game to make sure that they meet the increasing standards that their customers are starting to expect, and our survey has thrown some good insights into consumer’s attitudes to their own photography which clearly reinforces this view.

Why we commissioned this survey

Businesses have been under-investing in photography for years, and its become a highly commoditised industry which has reduced both the cost and the perceived value of photography.

In the photographic production process, there is very little investment in time before a shoot, to plan and test concepts and ideas prior to the actual shoot, and even to write a decent brief – which naturally places limitations on what can be acheived during the actual shoot. Many photographers we speak to feel that the general standards of commercial photography have declined, which is a direct result of a lack of proper planning, and not in any way a reflection of the the creative abilities of photographers.

To give more weight to our opinion about the importance of photography in business, we needed to get a wider sense of the impact of photography as far as general consumers were concerned. And the more people we survey, the greater the potency of our findings.

This survey is still live, and response numbers are building daily, so please help us grow this survey more by sharing the link at the end of this article on your own social networks.

An important part of everyday life

All of these results are from respondents who weren’t professional photographers. 57% told us that they take photos several times a week or more, and once they’ve taken these photos, they don’t just leave them on their phone or camera, which tells us that these images really mean something to them:

58% put them on Facebook, 48% share them on Twitter, Instagram and other social media and 47% email them to family and friends. Surprisingly in our digital world, almost 30% also print them out.

People are really interested and highly engaged with photography, with 97% telling us they enjoyed looking at photography in general and that they were really tuned into it when they were reading magazines, newspapers and looking at website and even advertisements. 95% felt that photography is an important part of every day life.

So with this high awareness and opinion of photography by consumers, it’s no surprise to find out that they are also very perceptive to image quality. 86% can usually or definitely tell the difference between a good photograph and a bad one and 76% understood what a stock photograph was.

Influencing purchasing decisions

This survey focused on digital shopping, because in the absence of being able to really see and touch a product, the product photography is arguably the most important part of a website. And this was backed up by our respondents, 91% saying that images of products are important to them when they are shopping online, but 92% said websites in general could improve the standard of their photography.

However the most important insight from the survey was that 84% of people had decided not to buy something online, because the product image was not good enough.

So what does this mean?

Quite simply it means that better images can improve online conversion rates, and for many online retailers, it could make a dramatic difference to the performance of their business.

It makes a stronger case for businesses to really think about their photography, the role it plays within their site, and the way it positions their own products to their customers and against their competitors. It gives business an incentive to spend more time evaluating the way they commission and use images on their websites.

The survey

Here is the survey. Feel free to have a look, and even better, post it out to your own social networks because we’re still collecting results. We’ll update this post with all developments.

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