Strategy

Swiping right on product orientation

Bri Williams /

In an e-commerce store, are you better to present your product facing right or left? That was the subject of some recent research that considered whether ‘swiping right’ had a bearing on the degree to which customers liked a product.

What’s the “right” product orientation?

Noting the adoption of ‘swiping’ in apps like Tinder and Stylect, researchers Van Kerckhove and Pandelaere were curious about how gestures to signal like or dislike were influenced by the orientation of a product image.

Let’s say you sell shoes. You have a choice whether the first image of the shoe faces left or right. This is particularly important on mobile, when there may only be space for one product and one image at a time.

Across five experiments, the researchers had participants view products that were either facing left or right, and then swipe either left or right to signal whether they liked them.

The studies tested not only the orientation of the product, but the effect of whether the “like” gesture was on the right or left, and whether the same effects were evident if customers used a button rather than swipe.

Right for right action, left for left action

The researchers found product orientation did influence the direction of the action, which therefore impacted the product evaluation.

In other words, a right oriented image influenced people to swipe right. If this swipe meant ‘like’ then the evaluations were more positive. However, if the swipe meant ‘dislike’, evaluations were negatively affected.

The reverse was also true, where if the image was left-oriented, people were more likely to swipe left. The influence on product evaluations was the same (i.e. they were affected according to what gesturing left or right were programmed to mean).

Swiping vs clicking impacts product evaluations

The researchers also found the strength of evaluations was influenced by orientation. People who liked the shoes favoured its right orientation more when the ‘like’ swiping action was programmed on the right. In addition, people liked the shoes far less when they were facing right and the ‘dislike’ action was programmed on the right swipe. In other words, people tended to swipe in the direction the product was facing regardless of whether this was a like or dislike swipe!

Importantly, these same findings were not found for button clicks which seem to add more friction into the execution and encourage people to contemplate their decision more.

What product orientation means for you

Responsive design has meant most websites can be easily adapted for tablet and mobile customers. However, with gestures like swiping becoming more embedded in apps, we need to more deeply consider how our customers will engage with specific elements on each page. This research signals the importance of product orientation and the need for congruence between message and desired action.

NOW READ: Why fees can beat discounts when influencing customer behaviour

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Bri Williams

Bri Williams is Australia's foremost authority on behavioural economics applied to everyday business and personal effectiveness. Author, speaker and leading consultant, Bri can make your life easier through behavioural science. More at www.briwilliams.com.au.

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