How Product Images Motivate Checkout


Add a customer registration form to a lengthy fashion e-commerce checkout process and what do you get?  Frustrated customers and low conversion rates.  But dangle a carrot in front of your customers and they’re more likely to complete their purchase.  In this article, I explore the relationship between motivation and form design with particular focus on the inclusion of product photos.

Incremental Gains Can Deliver Big Money

Research shows that even the smallest changes to checkout processes can deliver big results.  One e-commerce site found that increasing sales by just 5.29% (from 84.71% to 90% of traffic) they would generate an additional 491 orders and $87k per month.  Or a 24% growth in revenue.  Which makes investing time and effort in form analytics extremely worthwhile.

To make a change you first need to understand why people abandon their shopping baskets.  As my research demonstrates, there are a wide range of reasons for checkout abandonment.  Here, we suggest the use of product photos as a carrot to encourage customers through complicated checkout and having to create an account.

The Drivers Of Customer Action

Stanford University’s Dr. B.J Fogg, an expert in persuasive technology, has developed a behavioural model that explains the factors driving human interaction with technology.  He believes that taking action relies on a combination of determinants:

  • How motivated an individual is
  • How easy the task is to do
  • A trigger to spark the action

For a checkout process to be successful, it must highly motivate customers, be easy to do and have a trigger in place. If a checkout is hard to complete, users will end up feeling frustrated if they are not sufficiently motivated. Or, as the graph below demonstrates, they will feel annoyed if they have low motivation but the task is easy to complete.

Source: Behaviour Model

How do you motivate customers? By using factors including pleasure, pain, hope, fear, social acceptance and rejection.  

In the case of fashion, I would argue that purchasing a new garment or accessory could tick all three of the positive motivating factors.  Pleasure from buying something nice to wear, hope that it will fit well and look good, and social acceptance by being on-trend or well-presented.

By providing an image of the item the customer has placed in the basket, you can pull on all three strands of motivation.  

Eyes On The Prize

I always advise Formisimo clients that when people add something to the basket on their product pages it should be ridiculously obvious that they’ve done so.  Lots of sites get this wrong either by not displaying confirmation, showing a tiny animation or small text that’s difficult to spot.  

This means the customer has to go up to the basket to check whether the item they have selected is in place.  Which means more clicks, more time and more frustration.

The best sites use images to make it clear to the customer what they’ve got in their basket and how to progress to the checkout.  A good example is from Asos who distinctly display which item is in the basket and how to proceed to purchase with a brightly coloured CTA button.

Source: Conversion XL

Another benefit of this approach is that, by adding a small animation to the side, the eye is attracted to the movement so the confirmation cannot be ignored.  There’s also a psychological element to this tactic as the user shifts one step closer to checkout moving from visitor to buyer.  

Checkout Design Impacts Image Display

Where you display your motivating product images will be influenced by the design of your checkout form.  Checkouts with multiple pages – see the image below on the left – will need to show product images in a bar that’s consistently visible to the user.  As in the example below right, best practice single page checkouts allow the product to be a central part of the form throughout.

Source: ECommerce Platforms

Having worked with many e-commerce clients, I know that there’s no right or wrong approach; the only way to find out which works best for your customers is to test.

Right-sized, Clear Images Are More Motivating

Fuzzy, tiny images that no-one can see are unlikely to motivate customers.  A good example of a brand that provides clean, beautiful product photos is Made.

Source: ECommerce Platforms

It’s commonly thought that bigger is better when it comes to product images because they are more visually engaging and offer a better customer experience.  However, research shows that this may not necessarily be true across all product classes.  

For fashion, smaller seems to be better as larger image sizes resulted in decreased visual attention.  With product images the motivating factor in form completion, getting the quality and size right is key.  Again, testing supported by form analytics, will reveal the best sizes and types of imagery to improve checkout completion.

Recommending Other Products With Imagery

When it comes to checkout I tend to see two main approaches: take the user to the payment page once their item is in the basket or add the item to the cart and remain on the same page and tempt the visitor with other products to buy.  

While closing the deal and getting people to purchase is important, so is encouraging more sales by tantalising people with other products.  In this case, the use of a product image in the basket could be detrimental.  With their eyes firmly on the prize, your customer may not look at other products.

Unless you can persuade them to avert their gaze.  And what better way to do it but with pictures?

In the next image, Crocs get the balance right making it very clear how to proceed with two call to action buttons while providing additional product images at the bottom of the page to entice additional purchases.

Source: ECommerce Platforms

This tactic is taken one step further by Amazon who use an image to confirm that a product has been added to the cart while showing items that will complement your purchase.

Source: ECommerce Platforms

By shrinking the contents of the basket, they are able to give more weight to the images of the other products while making it clear how to proceed with the purchase.  

Images Maintain Momentum Even When Slowing Customers Down

Capturing certain data, like address and card details, will always be necessary. From working with a range of clients, I know that the key to improving conversion is to keep this process short while clearly displaying the products in the basket to keep motivation high.  

Customer registration, despite the challenge it poses in terms of checkouts, remains a must for some businesses.  Using product photos in the basket alongside the registration from, as in the case of Dune, helps ease customers through this potential blocker.

Source: ECommerce Platforms

Using images to keep customer motivation high is a slick way to encourage customers to buy more, checkout and overcome potential sticking points in the purchase process.  Getting the right image, in the right place and displaying it continuously could make a significant impact on your business’ bottom line.

image representing average form conversion rate uplift from using Formisimo From 0% to 24% Form Conversion Uplift Get the insight that increased form conversions by 24% (and rising)
Latest Insight
Improving Insurance Forms Reviewing the top 31 insurance forms