Product Images in Search Suggestions: How Do They Improve Customer Experience and Conversion?

Hardly anyone would argue that product images are essential for a successful ecommerce store. However, to increase conversion rate and deliver an exceptional customer experience, it's a good idea to not only use quality images but also make them more visible and discoverable for visitors by showing previews in search suggestions. Let's see what role product images in site search suggestions play and in which ways you can make them work for you.

Why high-quality images are so important for ecommerce

The saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" is especially true for ecommerce, as product images can make or break online presence and customer experience (CX). Companies invest time and money into shooting accurate and clear product photos because 93% of online customers consider a product image to be the key factor when making a purchase decision.

Product images and CX

According to a BigCommerce survey, 78% of online customers want products to be brought to life with images. In other words, they want to see how the product may fit into their own lives. Apple give us the perfect example of products brought to life: they show catchy use-cases when advertising their gadgets.
Product images in use-cases
Online customers now view shopping as an experience, not a simple process of purchasing things. Product images are a great tool to provide them with just that by reflecting your brand and telling a story. And the better the CX is, the more likely your customers will want to repeat it.

Product images and conversion rate

Product images affect the conversion rate of ecommerce business not only by enhancing CX. It has been proven that high-quality images help companies to establish credibility and win customers' trust. Which, in turn, results in higher conversion. Numerous surveys have shown the overwhelming effect product images have on sales volume. For example, customers are three times more likely to convert on an ecommerce website with higher quality images than on a website with lower quality images.

Effect of product images in search suggestions on CX and conversion

As we've seen, quality product images are vital for ecommerce. Let's look into what role product images play when it comes to search suggestions and how it affects your metrics.

Imagine a visitor lands on your website. If he is at a late stage of the customer journey and already knows what he wants to purchase, he starts searching for it. That's where product reviews with images come to the rescue: they show what the desired product looks like and motivate a customer to go to the product listing right from search suggestions, saving them an extra step of visiting the results page.

Product previews with images are especially handy when customers have to distinguish similar products from each other. Let's say a customer is looking for a specific variety of apples. He doesn't know the name of this particular variety and only remembers the fruit's bright red color. Finding the right apple sort is much easier for him with product images in search suggestions.
product images in instant search widget
Product images in search suggestion
Thereby product images in-search make a customer's journey along the sales path smoother and more comfortable, saving time and effort. And the more effortless the customers' path to the desired product is, the more likely they are to convert.

Case studies confirm the positive effect of product images in search on conversion. For example, Mod Cloth increased orders from tablet traffic by 5%, average order value by 3%, and value per visit by 8% by including product images in suggestions.

Best practices for effective use of product images in search

Check the performance of search suggestions

Some search apps are intelligent enough to handle specific queries, for example, ones that include the color of the desired product. To understand how it is done, let's take a brief look at how the search works. By default, when a user types in the product name, the main picture appears in search suggestions. But if the user looks for "blue heels," the smart search will show the picture of blue shoes, even if the product has color swatches and blue is not the main product picture. The most effective search engines can unearth products even with complicated colors when a user searches for "blue and silver heels," - as in the picture below.
Product preview when searching for products with complex colors
Products with complicated colors appear in search suggestions

Do not include too much information in product previews

Minimalism is a significant trend for design in general and website interfaces in particular. Make sure that product previews include only essential information, such as product name and price. Two pictures below illustrate the difference between an over-the-top product description in preview and a minimalistic one.
On the left: a bad example of product description in preview. On the right: a good example.

Integrate metafields

Metafields are small pieces of extra information that can be attached to products, orders, and other objects. This feature is available on some ecommerce platforms, for example, Shopify and BigCommerce. You can add metafields to your products to attach specific information and therefore make search results even more relevant. For example, for an ecommerce store with alcoholic beverages, it's a good idea to add alcohol-grade metafields to allow customers to search for strong or less-so drinks.

Set up merchandising options

Try using product images in search for merchandising to promote your best-selling items. You can arrange search suggestions to always show certain items at the top. This is a powerful tool to advertise your products and boost conversion. To see how merchandising works, take a look at the picture below where the pink armchair appears at the top even though the user's initial search was for "sofa".
Merchandising in search suggestions

Key takeaways

Let's sum up the main points below:

  • Online shoppers love the visual capabilities of online shopping. For this reason, products with high-quality, clear, and suitable photos show higher conversion rates.

  • The best product images are the ones that reflect your brand and tell a story behind it as they turn shopping into an experience.

  • Including product image previews in search suggestions is a smart practice as it smoothes your customers' journey and provides them with a better experience, resulting in higher conversion rates - but keep the product description simple.

  • Check the list of the best practices above on how to use product images in search suggestions most effectively.

    You'll be able to show product previews with images and optimize them as described in best practices when you integrate a smart search app into your ecommerce store. All you need to do is install the app with a single click, and the search will be instantly integrated into your website. Searchanise provides not only autocomplete and autosuggest features but also built-in tools to boost CX and conversion such as faceted search, upsell & cross-sell, analytics, and more.

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    Anastasiya Kupriyanova - Content creator
    Anastasiya Kupriyanova
    Anastasiya is a content creator at Searchanise. Her professional areas of interest are SaaS solutions and ecommerce. Anastasiya believes that quality content must be valuable for readers and achieve business goals. When she is not busy writing, which does not happen often, she reads passionately, both fiction and non-fiction literature.

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