How can you optimise your products ready for mobile?

July 24, 2019| by Ben Allen

Did you know… 16 million shoppers visit a retailer website or app in the average month via a mobile device versus 5 million who access via desktop (Nielsen, 2018)? It’s fair to say that technology has come a long way within the last 10 years. Innovation has meant that online shopping isn’t just stuck to behind closed doors, but has become much more of a global mobile affair. With millions of consumers opting to shop on their handheld devices, having access to products 24/7. But did you know that despite the shift in consumer behaviour, many online products are still not optimised for the smaller screens they’re accessed on?

From researching to purchasing, there are a number of reasons why consumers access a products page when shopping for groceries online. Which is why it’s important products are presented in the clearest way possible, to offer the easiest shopping experience possible. But for many brands and retailers, they’re still in the dark about how to optimise products ready for mobile devices. So, what is the best practice and how can you ensure you’re staying ahead with your products? Let’s cover the basics…

What is a mobile ready hero image?

A mobile ready hero image is a representation of a physical pack that has been optimised for online shopping. Hero images may differ from how the product actually looks, but should contain all of the elements that make it recognisable both on and offline. Cambridge University and GS1 guidelines base this on 4 W’s; Who is the brand?, What is the product?, Which variety is it? and HoW much of it is there? 

But it can be hard to identify how best to represent your products when you take into consideration the size, shape, multipacks etc. That’s why the 4 W’s as outlined by Cambridge University and GS1 offer guidance in regards to a ‘visual clarity test’, where if a consumer can identify all 4 whilst scrolling on a mobile, then the image and data is on the right track.

What is the difference between a normal pack shot and an optimised image?

A normal pack shot is a straight up shot of the product in position, scaled down to fit within a small white box on a webpage. Because the image is reduced in size it means some of the important information on the front of the pack is hard to read and unrecognisable, making it harder for consumers to understand what they’re actually purchasing.

An optimised image is the same product image but has been edited to maximise on the allowed space. The image is stripped of all the additional information that fills the packaging, with only the essentials kept in e.g. pack size, weight or number of items within one box (e.g. 39 nappies, 250ml shampoo or 440ml pack of 4 beer cans). The product’s appearance does not change in any shape or form, so remains recognisable but in a more easy-to-view manner. The result? A clear, readable image that will stand out to consumers.

Why should you optimise your products for mobile?

Online shopping has never been so mobile therefore it’s not just important that your websites are optimised for mobile use, but also the content on them. Nothing switches off a consumer faster than a product webpage that won’t load, show images or has insufficient information. By optimising your products you can ensure they stand out both individually and in a group when listed in a search result or product category page. By identifying the key information upfront you’re also helping the consumer with their shopping experience and overall purchasing decision. Consumers are more likely to purchase a product they clearly know more about than they are one where they can’t find the right information.

What layout is right for your product(s)?

Based on GS1 guidelines and in conjunction with the research undertaken by Cambridge University, there are standard pack layouts and multipack layouts. Both of which can help your products stand out clearly and informatively when browsed online. 

Examples of standard packshots include; whole pack, stretch to square and zoom pack.

A whole pack does what it says and is the whole product without any zoom or distortion. Certain information that covers the front of pack is removed, leaving only the most essential information (for example, product size, multipack offerings or quantity). This packshot is especially beneficial when comparing with other products within the same category.

A stretch to square image is where the shorter side of the product image is stretched by up to 150% so the hero image fills the maximum available space. This option is best used when the product’s shaping does not play a significant role in brand recognition as the majority of the pack would be hidden online.

A zoom pack allows for a product to be zoomed in by up to 150%, then cropped to only show a specific area e.g. the top end of a shampoo bottle. This can be mainly used for those products that are harder to show online due to their sizing / packaging. But as previously mentioned, with this option consider if the product’s shaping plays an integral part in brand recognition.

What other things should you consider?

With optimised imagery you can enhance the product to call out its main messages. But for some products, it may seem harder to do so. All product packaging is different, with some showing key information on the front and some not. If they do, it’s easier to optimise and increase it’s sizing when producing a clean pack. But if they don’t then here’s where a strip or lozenge can help. Both of these are indicators placed on the right side of the image square; vertical for portrait products and horizontal for landscape products. The main reason for using these is to detail the size, quantity, weight and product e.g. ‘Dry shampoo’, ‘6 pack’, ‘42 washes’, ‘24 nappies’ or ‘250ml’. Other things to consider are angling shots for multipacks (e.g. cans, water bottles etc.) and also calling out actual multipack products (e.g. ice creams). The latter is the only exception to the optimisation process, as non-multi pack items would not be as effective when shown online (e.g. showing face cream beside the product bottle). The main thing to consider is, the 4 W’s. By making the changes to your products, can consumers still identify the key areas?

So, what’s next? Still not 100% sure your products will align with the guidelines outlined above?

The great thing about mobile optimisation is that it can be unique to you and your product(s). Despite the above being based on the guidelines outlined by GS1 and Cambridge University on best practice, we can work with you to define your products and make them work for you and your consumer.

With mcommerce continuously on the rise, it’s important that key steps are taken in optimising product imagery for online distribution. The usage in PC’s and laptops is decreasing each year, as more consumers opt for mobile devices. Which is why it’s important to start investing in your online product content today to see that all important ROI tomorrow.

Nielsen Brandbank has already worked closely with retailers and brands globally on optimising their products ready for mobile. Find out how you can maximise your products online by contacting an Account Manager on +44 (0) 330 555 33 44  or email


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