While rich media features can be great ways to showcase products, a new survey suggests that problems associated with slow loading can cause online retailers to lose out on sales.

The Brandbank report, which uses data from a poll of 2,275 UK consumers, finds that customers are annoyed if rich media requires extra software or slows down page load times. 

The drawbacks of rich media

When rich media features like product videos and 360 product views work, (and I have no problem with them normally), they can do a lot to showcase products effectively, by showing them in motion, or from a range of angles. This can help shoppers to get a better idea of the products before they decide to buy, and can actually reduce returns rates. 

However, the flipside is that, for some web users, rich media requires software downloads, and can be slow to load. 


58% of consumers surveyed said they would be put off a purchase if they were required to download additional software to view images or videos. 39% cite waiting for product videos or images as a major source of irritation, while the lack of zoom tools on photos was another bugbear. 

I think retailers need to consider the types of browsers, software etc that the average customer is using, and ensure that the technology used is compatible with as many customers as possible.

Also, alternatives to rich media could be provided so that users without the necessary software, or viewing from a mobile device, can at least see some product images. 

Causes of purchase abandonment

The survey underlines the importance of quality product images. Not surprisingly, 67% are put off purchase when there is  no image, and 58% by low quality images, and 30% are deterred when there is only one product photo. 

Product information is also vital, and limited text descriptions on product pages would deter 61% of shoppers, while 58% would be put off by out of date or inaccurate information. 

Reasons for abandoning purchases

The demand for rich media varies depending on the type of website. For clothing and consumer technology retailers, use of rich media is demanded by consumers. More than half expect multiple product images, while 52% prefer to be able to zoom in on images when shopping for clothing, and 48% for technology.  

41% of consumers said that they would like to see 360-degree image rotation of fashion products when making an online purchase, and 37% when buying consumer technology.

This is less imperative when purchasing products like groceries or DVDs, the biggest factor for customers buying these products is comprehensive product descriptions. 

Graham Charlton

Published 30 September, 2010 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (1)


Matthew Pover

There's no doubt page load speed influences basket value. i-transact is the UK's only ecommerce ad network, and we don't allow any rich media ad formats on any of the sites we represent. Instead, we only use iFrames and basket value is one of the reasons for this.

We know from experience with UK supermarkets' sites that 10% lower basket values are often the first indication of page load issues. Since shoppers allocate a set amount of time in which to get their shopping done, when pushed for time, they'll prioritise the 'essentials-shop', and forego the 'me-shop'.

There's a definite balance to be struck between functionality and usability - the art is in finding the sweetspot.

almost 8 years ago

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