Lately there’s been a lot of news about ecommerce showrooming in the industry and I’ve been posting my thoughts and opinions here as a result. Showrooming is a practice where shoppers with smartphones visit a local store to see a product in person and then buy the product online–most often from a competitor. Most often, showrooming happens because a customer can’t touch the item they wish to buy.

The most intuitive solution to the showrooming phenomenon is to provide as much information about the product as possible to help the customer make an educated buying decision. In addition to providing ample product specifications in the form of copy, I highly recommend that you include as much visual information as possible through alternate images of the product.

For example, last night I went shopping with a girlfriend for a dress to wear to an upcoming wedding celebration. Once the dress was purchased we killed some time looking in a jewelry store and as I was perusing the cases it occurred to me that shopping for jewelry online would be really hard. I wondered how online jewelers handled the challenge. Hence, today’s example.

To keep it simple, I stayed on the Amazon.com site and viewed blue topaz rings from a variety of sellers–from Amazon themselves to third party Amazon sellers. Each product page is presented in much the same way and so I figured it would be easier to compare content in an apples-to-apples sort of way. Here’s what I discovered: Alternate images can provide an exceptional amount of information! 

Here are the least informative alternate views that I found. (Feel free to click on any of the images below to be taken to the live page on Amazon where you can bounce from view to view in real time.)

Here’s the best photography of the rings I reviewed, but due to the close up nature of the shot, you have no idea how big that center stone really is. The alternate views don’t help you any either.

The Importance of Alternate Images in Ecommerce lease information

This one has a little info, but the ruler idea isn’t helpful if you don’t have a sense of what that measurement translates into in the real world. This one does have an alternate view that shows you how high the gem sits off of the setting.

The Importance of Alternate Images in Ecommerce

Here’s a listing with better alternate views that shows a “hand” but the hand is on a mannequin and I don’t know about you, but I’m not sized ANYTHING like those mannequins! Also note that in the mini images below there’s no sense of how high the gem sits in the mounting as you don’t have a side view of the ring.

The Importance of Alternate Images in Ecommerce Okay

Here’s my vote for the alternate views that provide the most useful information about the item in question:

The Importance of Alternate Images in Ecommerce Best

The last listing shows you the top view of the ring, a side angle of the gem, two side views of the ring and how high the gem sits on the setting, an image along side a ruler for the technical types and a picture of the ring an average woman’s hand!

What does my ring research mean to you? Simple–the more information you can provide to the shopper, the more comfortable they will be in completing the purchase online–especially for products that typically require a hands on approach.

To learn more about how to maximize the success of your ecommerce site, download the white paper, B2B Ecommerce Success – Seven Questions to Consider When Beginning an Ecommerce Initiative.