See It, Know It

In plain sight

In digital commerce there is no smell, taste or even sound when shopping for Grocery. As a multi-sensory experience, well, it’s limited. By default, our eyes take the lead in processing this online information.

The amount of content online is vast. In fact, more than we can process. Humans find shortcuts and rapid scanning by sight is right up there as an effective tool for shopping. Experts have a name for it: they call it the “visual preference heuristic”.

We’re dealing with a super-abundance of information on product display pages (PDP’s), with multiple categories, wide ranges, and deep assortments. Each SKU has a trove of content – pictures, text, and video.

What’s missing?

We need to bring together three things:

  1. The set requirements of the retailer, who demand efficiency and consistency in display
  2. The need of the brand owner to create content that converts browsers into buyers
  3. The expectation of the shopper that they can quickly and easily navigate the site and the PDP

Our response has been to use tech to simplify and automate, and to use UX to check the experience for the shopper. The presence of an image as well as the number and types of images are counted and reported, but digital shelf tools stop right there.

The gaping hole is the effectiveness of digital images. We can gather evidence through eye-tracking as it studies the actual human experience on Grocery retail sites. Time and again, the digital image – and particularly the primary image on the first page – is the anchor point as a shopper browses the category. And yet, for all the tech applied to digital commerce, the quality of those digital images is still largely ignored.

Optimise the image to help the consumer

Busy shoppers expect our help! It all starts with the image.

A good digital image works for all when it helps people process the content. All ways around – retailers have a sharp, navigable digital shelf, brands have the best potential to convert, and shoppers get the right product in the basket with fewer mistakes.

Four tips for great digital images:

  • Leverage the distinctive brand icons/ signifiers
  • Bigger images stop the scroll and help eCommerce with accessibility
  • Get the stage set – lighting, background, pack orientation, and context
  • Show the product in-use for additional messaging shorthand

Putting it into practice

In the weeks ahead, with Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, US and European shoppers will buy a lot of chocolate. We took a look at the Flash.PDP database to examine seasonal examples of chocolate that made an impact and converted shoppers into consumers.

Leveraging distinctive brand icons

There’s just a moment to catch the attention of the scrolling shopper. Colours and shapes work to disrupt the scroll and reassure the shopper.

Bigger images stop the scroll

The role of the primary image is to get across brand, type, and size. Maltesers do that by zooming in and putting all the supporting information elsewhere on the image carousel.

Get the stage set

The backdrop to the product has a pivotal role. In this case, Lindor have used the space around the pack to create the tone. Pack position, the presence of other chocolates, the colour and the pack orientation all support that goal.

Show the product in-use

In-use shots provide additional communication. Lindt consistently use the master chocolatier to get across product expertise and superiority.

Try eFluence for Free

You have thousands of eCommerce images. It’s way too many to apply conventional testing efficiently.

Our algorithm references brand new images against the database of similar images from the same category. It calculates whether the image looks more like a top performer or has closer visual similarity to images that don’t work with shoppers.

The algorithm will tell us straight away, because straight away is when the decision must be made.

Find out more by contacting us at


Adrian Sanger helps insight start-ups, scale-ups, and established agencies bring winning products to market. He is a Director at eFluence™, the technology division of Behaviorally. He has helped in the build of Flash.PDP™, from the very beginning and now works with clients to shape the program and realize the value. He is a classically trained researcher, assisting C-level Insight teams in tackling their biggest growth challenges, including finding market opportunity, elevating their product strategy, and positioning, and developing winning go-to-market innovations. Connect with Adrian on LinkedIn.