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Research measures impact of images on online shopping

11 February 2011 - 09:34 by Sarah Collinson

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Online auction site eBay is set to publish a paper detailing research into the ways in which images of products can impact the likelihood of consumers making a purchase.

The paper is set to be presented at the WWW 2011 Conference next month in India and it is essential in laying the groundwork, which could lead sites like eBay to add search features which will be able to filter out results based on the quality of the attached images.

In short, this will mean people who are going to sell goods on eBay will need to use the best possible pictures to help market themselves, otherwise they will be penalised and find that their products slide down the rankings.

This is good news for consumers who use sites like eBay to carry out safe shopping online because the sellers who take the time to present their products in the most appealing way will be privileged over those who are sloppy in their image-snapping.

eBay currently uses similar image-filtering technology but with the research, it will be able to build a better search function which is even more in tune with the shopping habits of consumers. People tend to discount listings which are poorly shot and those which lack an image altogether are usually left alone because there is no way to tell whether the product matches the description.

This news might make it sound like retailers will have to put in a lot more work to make their product images acceptable under new search standards. However, there are already programs which help to touch up snaps and remove imperfections, without requiring a great deal of technical expertise.

In the past, safe shopping online has lacked something over in-store purchasing because of the lack of representative images, but this looks set to change as retailers have to improve their offerings.