What do online shoppers look for in a website, and what’s the difference between a product photo that secures a sale and one that makes visitors bounce off the page? Rather than guess, we decided to run a survey on how product photos can make — or break — the shopping experience for online shoppers.

More Than Half of Internet Users Say That They Feel Uncomfortable Buying Online without a Good Product Photo

In our survey of 50 consumers in the UK, we found that more than half (65.4%) of online shoppers are reluctant to buy a product online if it has a poor-quality product photo — or if it lacks one completely. 16.9% don’t feel strongly either way, while less than one in five people said they are happy to make a purchase without a photo.

We found that gender plays a crucial role, with women much more likely to want to see an image than men — 89.1% of women asked said that a product image is important, compared to just 42.2% of men. For eCommerce businesses, this means they could be missing out on a chunk of abandoned sales by not catering to women, who still do the majority of household shopping and often buy on behalf of other people, such as children, partners, friends and elderly relatives.

The results of our survey show how women answered the question…

I'm reluctant to purchase from websites that have few photos or low-quality photos…Compared to men:


The results clearly show that a higher percentage of men are indifferent about how product photos are used — or if they are used at all. When asking women, opinion is much more polarised, with women either strongly agreeing or disagreeing.

Photos Are Particularly Important for Businesses in Specific Industries

Photos are more important in some industries than in others. We’ve ranked how important consumers judged photos to be during the sales process — from most important to least important — based on survey data:

  1. Clothes, accessories and fashion
  2. Travel (including hotel stays)
  3. Sports and fitness equipment
  4. Technology products
  5. Homeware
  6. Food

It’s no surprise to see fashion in the top spot, however, travel was a close second. Anyone who has recently used Instagram will have noticed that the visual platform has attracted an influx of advertisers, particularly from those in our top three industries: clothes, travel and fitness.

It was a little surprising to see technology above homeware. Our survey found that product photos don’t tend to influence a man’s choice to purchase a product, with men placing tech photos below food and homeware in order of importance. However, an overwhelming majority of women place technology product photos in the fourth spot. It’s no secret that, today, tech is an extension to fashion — the mobile phones we use are more than a means of connecting to the world — they’re an intentional choice and fashion statement.


excellent photos survey

Online Shoppers Aged 25-34 Buy a Product Based on the Image Used

Assuming all other factors, such as price, functionality and specification, are identical, we found that almost half (46.7%) of online shoppers aged 25-34 buy products with the best photo. Less than one in ten people (8.3%) feel that a photo isn’t important. This shows that a significant portion of online shoppers base their shopping decisions on product photos. With 54% of millennials going digital when it comes to shopping, and in a world where competition is saturated and it’s become even harder to stand out, businesses that use poor product photos to market their products are severely compromising their sales and, therefore, their bottom line.

Almost Half of Internet Users Decide Not to Make a Purchase Because of a Poor Product Photo

Almost half of internet users surveyed (43.3%) have, at some point, decided to not make a purchase because of a poor product photo. Ultimately, users have navigated to a website and settled on a product they wanted to buy, but then opted not to go ahead with the purchase due to low-quality product photography.

survey poor photo

Owners of online businesses need to make sure they are maximising their chances of closing each sale. As our survey results show, every business should consider investing in top-notch product photographs, or else prepare to have custom stolen by competitors who do.

Need photos for your online business? Get in touch with Ben Nichols Photography to request a quote. Ben’s a commercial photographer with over a decade’s experience.