And despite nearly every ecommerce store having product images and product videos of some kind (as well as images and videos on product landing pages) I’m not asked this question very often.
And in this article, we’re going to dive head-first into ecommerce psychology (some may call it consumer psychology) to uncover tactics you can use with your product images to increase conversion rates for your Shopify store.
Use product images to prime a customer to buy.
In the tricky world of ecommerce conversion rates, very few people know that product images have the potential to change a customer’s mindset during their decision-making process.
Xu and Wyer Jr are two smart researchers who have been exploring the relationship between mindsets and consumer decision-making.
In their paper entitled The Comparative Mind-Set: From Animal Comparisons to Increased Purchase Intentions, they found that a customer’s mindset has a significant impact on the way they approach their decision-making process.
If you’re a consumer psychology nerd like me, then you’ll find what they discovered fascinating…
If a customer is in a comparative mindset, they are more likely to make informative decisions by considering all the benefits and drawbacks of each product sold on an ecommerce website.
If a customer is in an evaluative mindset, then they are more likely to develop a more straightforward decision-making process. Instead of fussing over all of the benefits and drawbacks of a product, they ponder over things such as the value and quality of their potential purchase.
Okay, so by now you’re probably wanting to know what this humdrum means for your ecommerce or Shopify website, right?
Well dear reader, if you want to encourage comparison and analysis, use images that highlight the unique features and benefits of each product.
On the other hand, if you want to use ecommerce psychology to encourage customers to have a more straightforward decision-making process, then use images that emphasize the overall quality and value of your products.
Priming a customer’s mindset.
So, how can you prime the mindset of customers visiting your Shopify store?
Xu and Wyer suggest that asking customers to choose from an assortment of categories can be enough for them to make a decision about which product they want to buy, rather than whether they want to buy anything at all.
Xu and Wyer call this a “which to buy” mindset.
However, a “which-to-buy” mindset is only one piece of the puzzle to get more conversions.
If a customer has decided to add a product to their shopping cart, they then move on to the third stage of buying: “how to buy“.
“How to buy” is when customers evaluate things like payment options; shipping; return policies; and customer reviews.
All of these factors (and many more I might add) influence the number of people who complete a purchase. Therefore, the “how to buy” mindset also has a direct effect on shopping cart abandonment.
Ecommerce psychology: Why customers browse horizontally (most of the time).
Unless you look like some creature that belongs in the imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien, then the odds are that your eyes are aligned in a horizontal line.
This makes it easy for us human meat bags to scan horizontally and quickly evaluate what’s around or in front of us.
This applies to ecommerce stores too.
Design your Shopify category pages to show products horizontally.
In 2014 Townsend and Kahn published a paper entitled The Visual Preference Heuristic in the Journal of Consumer Research.
Their paper outlines the results of their research into the impact of visual versus verbal depiction on assortment processing, perceived variety, and choice overload.
In simple terms, they discovered that customers prefer visual information over verbal information.
This is because our brains process visuals faster than verbal information and find it easier to memorise images than words.
Visual information also influences the way people perceive variety, and in turn, this impacts a customer’s decision-making process.
Therefore, if people are browsing your website, then they prefer and are influenced by images displayed in horizontal columns
However, this isn’t a slam ‘n dunk situation as the positive influence of horizontal assortments implodes (in spectacular fashion I might add) when customers are looking for something specific.
Display search bar results vertically on your Shopify store.
Have you ever noticed that the search results on Google are listed vertically?
Townsend and Kakan may have the answer why Google has made this design choice as they found that when people want something specific (for example when someone searches for a product) then they want to find what they’re looking for ASAP.
They also discovered that customers want their most desired product at the top of the verticle list of products.
Don’t overwhelm customers with too many products or options.
Townsend and Kahn research also found that when a customer is overwhelmed with choice, their brains fizzle out and make a little “poof” sound.
When overwhelming customers with information, it results in decreased customer satisfaction and a sharp rise in people abandoning the decision-making process.
Summing up The Visual Preference Heuristic.
Therefore by presenting product information visually, you can help customers to feel more satisfaction, process information faster and make better decisions.
The Visual Preference Heuristic highlights that you can reduce the likelihood of choice overload and increase the chances of customers making a purchase by limiting how much information or options are available to customers.
Lastly, be sure to show product images horizontally for customers browsing your Shopify store and when someone is using your search bar, then display results vertically with the most relevant option at the top of the list.
And with that dear reader, it’s time for you to take over and start putting all of this ecommerce psychology to good use.