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Detailed recommendations and FAQ

Questions about general issues

Which retailers accept Mobile Ready Hero Images

In July 2017, over 50 retailers from 25 countries were accepting one or more types of Mobile Ready Hero Images. Coles.com.au, Sainsburys.co.uk and Superdrug.com were the leading retailers for acceptance and consistency of Mobile Ready Hero Images. Other retail giants with some degree of Mobile Ready Hero Image acceptance include walmart.com, walgreens.com, peapod.com and cvs.com/.

Retailer acceptance of Mobile Ready Hero Images is continually progressing. Some retailers accept all 8 classes of Mobile Ready Hero Images that are described in the summary of recommendations. Others only accept S1: full square, S2: size only for laundry, and M1-M2 variants of 'item-pull-out' for multipacks, especially ice creams. The greatest global retailer acceptance for Mobile Ready Hero Images has been achieved for Dove bar and Magnum handheld ice creams.

Why can't shoppers read the text to determine the size and type of product?

  • Some retailers argue pack shots are fit for purpose for e-commerce, because the text description next of the pack shot provides all the information that cannot be obtained from the photograph.
  • Nearly every shopper we interviewed could tell a story of having accidentally bought a product that was not what they thought it was (especially on size).
  • If a pack looks similar to the one they think it is, they don't bother to check the text to verify.
  • People chose to use online grocery for convenience and to "save time". As a result grocery online shopping is about selecting a large number of products as quickly as they can.
  • When Mobile Ready Hero Images work so that shoppers don't have to check the text, shopping is faster than it would otherwise be.

See also Why improve Mobile Ready Hero Images? in the Introduction.

Should space be left for retailer overlays?

No. Hero images should contain embedded size information, and retailers should communicate special offers without obscuring any part of the pack.

Special offers can be communicated by an offer title banner and coloured background fill, as shown opposite. This is more effective and more aesthetically pleasing than obscuring the top left corner of the image.

Size information should be embedded within the image produced by the brand team. They can ensure that it does not obscure important information in the image, such as brand or variant. Full-square front of pack images are most effective when size information is embedded within the artwork, and ideally in a position that matches the graphical layout of the actual front of pack, as shown in the Dove bar example opposite.

Retailers currently only have the technology to add size lozenges in the same position to every product in a category. This inevitably results in retailer-added size lozenges obscuring parts of the pack, or displaying images at smaller sizes to leave space for a retailer-added lozenge, neither of which is desirable.

Inevitably, there will always be some products that continue to use pack shots, while others use Mobile Ready Hero Images. Retailers may wish to continue adding size-lozenges to pack shots, as generally speaking the benefits of doing this outweigh the risks. However, retailers should be clever enough to switch these lozenges off for Mobile Ready Hero images, which already contain embedded size information.

In July 2017, we successfully convinced tesco.com to implement this strategy for laundry.

Do Mobile Ready Hero Images also work for own-label and new brands?

Yes. Adding off-pack communications is especially helpful for lesser-known brands where people might not know the type of product solely from its visual identity. As an example,

  • Coles front loader laundry powder saw a 55% sales uplift post image update
  • A test group of Coles branded products saw a 36% sales uplift with Mobile Ready Hero Images while the control group saw a 5% decline

The template for off-pack communications has been designed so it can be quickly added to any pack shot to make things instantly better. The additional refinements to enhance the pack image are allowable but not mandatory. All of the allowable refinements maintain compatibility with actual pack shots.

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Can the pack image be modified? Part 1: Zooming, cropping, removing lids, key lines and reflections

Some modifications are allowed but not others.

Can the product be zoomed and cropped? Yes

  • Zooming and cropping is allowable but not mandatory.
  • However, if you zoom too far, the overall shape of the product is lost. This can make it hard for shoppers to recognise the product type.

Can lids and caps be removed? Yes

  • But the product cannot be shown twice both with and without the lid.

Can key lines be added to assist recognition of the shape? Yes

  • But they should be pale grey RGB(167, 167, 167) and 0.6pt thickness on a 23 mm sized image.
  • NO use of glows just a keyline.

Can reflections or drop shadows be added? No

  • They add visual noise without helping the shopper and break GS1 & Google rules

Can the pack image be modified? Part 2: Pack graphics, 3D views and multiple views

Some modifications are allowed but not others.

Can some front of pack details be omitted / resized? Yes

  • This is allowable but not mandatory.
  • It can be useful to remove elements that are not part of the four key messages, and to increase the size of the key messages to make them clearer.

Can pack graphics breakout from the edges of the physical pack? No

  • This fails Google's rules and is unnecessarily visually disruptive.

Can 3D or three-quarter views be shown rather than front-on views? Only in certain cases

  • These views are not generally allowed because they make it even harder to verify the product details on the pack.
  • If needed, a slight camera elevation is allowable to show depth.
  • For multipacks, if the depth of the pack is an important indicator of quantity, then a slight 3D view is allowable (e.g. multi-packs of soft drinks cans).

Can multiple views be shown? No

  • Multiple views are visually disruptive.
  • They don't help to communicate any of the four critical messages.
  • They may mislead shoppers as to the number of items that they will receive.

Can Mobile Ready Hero Images have border lines?

No. Pack shots don't have borderlines and neither should Mobile Ready Hero Images

Why can't all packs show their contents outside the pack?

Multipack products are allowed to show a single item beside the picture of the outer packaging (see the multipack layouts for details). This is explicitly allowed in the GS1 rules for e-commerce images. This is allowed because it can be helpful for the shopper to see what they are buying. It also helps interpret the quantity of items in the multipack, as shown in the Magnum example opposite.

However, all other products are not allowed to show the contents of a pack outside the pack. For products that are not multipacks, showing contents beside the pack adds visual noise without helping to communicate brand, type of product, variant or size. Mobile Ready Hero Images are displayed at very small sizes, so there isn't room for anything but these 4 critical messages. If a brand team wants to show the texture or usage of the product, this should be done with secondary images.

Questions about the layout of Mobile Ready Hero Images

Are off-pack communications really needed?

The need for off-pack communications is most apparent for tall thin bottles, although other portrait packs also benefit from them. Square-ish packs typically work best without-pack communications. Some packs are also landscape, but this is not as common. Each of these scenarios will be discussed in turn.

Tall thin bottles

  • Bottles are designed for in-store shelf racking, which favours tall and thin bottles. The manufacturing lines that produce these bottles are not going to change any time soon.
  • Mass-volume production of these bottles results in many different types of product using exactly the same shape of bottle.
  • Given that tall, thin bottles are used for multiple different types of products, and given that the bottle is displayed within a 16mm square on a mobile device, it is not possible to communicate all 4 critical messages solely by improving the pack graphics and zooming or cropping.
  • Augmenting tall-thin bottles with off-pack communications provides a viable solution for every retailer in every country in a realistic timeframe.
  • Other portrait packs may benefit from off-pack communications, depending on the context

Square-ish packs

  • Generally speaking, square-ish packs work best when the full canvas area is used to communicate the 4 key messages, with size being communicated in a manner that is consistent with its appearance on the actual front of pack (as shown in the Dove bar example opposite).
  • On a global basis, more retailers will accept an approach that doesn't involve off-pack communications.
  • However, square-ish packs are allowed to use off-pack communications, if there is a good reason to do so.
  • For example, off-pack communications are useful for square-ish packs if the size is not indicated prominently on the front of pack and/or the type of product is not obvious from the shape of the packaging and its front of pack graphics.
  • The body cream opposite shows one example of a square-ish pack that is appropriately accompanied by off-pack communications.

Landscape packs

  • Landscape packs may benefit from off-pack communications, depending on the context.
  • Toothpaste is one example of a category that especially needs off-pack communications.
  • Landscape packs are not compatible with a vertical strip, hence the strip should be horizontal for landscape packs.

Why can't all stripes be horizontal?

It might seem easier if all stripes were horizontal. However:

  • Using a horizontal stripe on a portrait product does not make good use of the available space. As a result, the pack shot is much smaller than necessary and the messages on it are even harder to see (see examples on the right).
  • Cropping a portrait pack to fit in the available space reduces the distinctiveness of the product shape. This can make it hard for shoppers to recognise the product type.

Why is size on the bottom right?

It is important to keep consistency across the images, so that the shopper knows where to look for the information. The bottom right of the image is the only location that is compatible with both portrait and landscape images.

Can any other assets or icons be positioned off-pack?

For multipacks, you can show a picture of the items in the pack (item pull-out). No other assets or icons should be shown because they clutter the canvas and get in the way of the four critical messages.

In particular:

  • Given the freedom to do so, brand teams are tempted to seek visual disruption by adding swirls, blobs, marketing claims and manipulating the background.
  • The Google shopping feed will not harvest any image that contains off-pack marketing, such as New, Offer, Cheaper, Sale, and 2 for 1. Mobile Ready Hero Images are not adverts or banners and they cannot be used to add claims or endorsement lozenges.
  • There are some communications that would be useful for the shopper such as Fair trade, freezable and vegetarian. However, successfully communicating the four critical messages requires the use of the whole canvas area, leaving no space available for anything else. Supplementary information should be presented elsewhere in the retailer app or website.
  • Presenting shelf-life for perishable products has not yet been resolved. These rules are for non-perishable products only.

Can the centre of the pack be positioned anywhere?

No. The centre of the pack must be in the centre of the part of the canvas allocated to the image.

Retailers demand category standard visual consistency in the positioning of the pack images. They will not accept images where brand teams attempt to achieve visual disruption by moving the pack image left or right or swapping round the elements.

Why is the pack image on the left?

  • The pack image is the most important piece of information, and should be the first thing that the shopper sees.

Questions about the text in Mobile Ready Hero Images

Is floating text allowed?

No. The alignment of floating off-pack text looks inconsistent. The text needs a consistently sized coloured background behind it to aid alignment and provide a visual anchor.

What words are allowed in the stripe?

In general, only the type of product and category-standard subcategories are allowed in the stripe.

Product variants should not generally be included in the stripe because this is not necessary. Product variants are usually established through colour and pack artwork, and the variant colour is used as the stripe colour to aid this recognition.

Keeping the product variant out of the stripe frees up the stripe to be used for the product type and sub-type in a consistent fashion. Using this consistently helps the shopper to decipher a Mobile Ready Hero Image quickly.

How this works in practice (and what counts as a category-standard subcategory) still needs to be confirmed. There are a number of proposals under discussion for how to codify this.

Can UPPERCASE text be used in the stripe?

No. UPPERCASE text shouts too loudly. In detail:

  • Mixing upper and lowercase text between images looks inconsistent.
  • At extremely small sizes, words are clearest in lowercase text. The overall shape of the word gives a clue as to what the word is, even when the individual letters cannot be distinguished.
  • In the item descriptions on retailer websites, each word starts with a capital letter. Doing the same for the off-pack text maintains consistency.
  • UPPERCASE text draws attention. Off-pack text should not be drawing attention, as the focus should be on the image. In an ideal scenario, the image should tell shoppers everything they need to know, and the text is only read for confirmation.

Can the typeface, size and weight of text be changed from the template?

No. It is important to maintain consistency across a category. The typeface, size and weight of the text have been chosen to be visually clear.

In detail:

  • Open Sans was designed by Google to be "neutral, yet friendly" and "optimised for excellent legibility on web, and mobile interfaces".
  • It is free and open source so everyone can use it.
  • The font size and weight have been chosen to be visually clear.
  • Condensing the font, making it lighter or making it heavier makes it harder to read on mobile devices.
  • Retailers demand visual consistency in off-pack communications.

What if the words I want to use don't fit?

  • The stripe is not a place to replicate the full product description.
  • Use only the minimal key words that distinguish the type of product.

What colour should the text in the callouts be?

To ensure both consistency and sufficient visual clarity, the text should be

  • White if the background is dark
  • Dark grey (sRGB(50,50,50)) if the background is light

In detail:

  • Use a tool to check the colour contrast (e.g. the Colour Contrast Analyser from Vision Australia). Check if white text has sufficient contrast with the stripe colour. If this passes the 'AA Large text' contrast check, then white text should be used on the stripe.
  • If this fails the 'AA Large text' check, then use dark grey text instead: sRGB(50,50,50)
 

Does the text in the stripe have to read upwards?

Yes.

  • In general, whenever text appears vertically on a pack, it reads upwards. In particular, barcodes generally read upwards.
  • In other fields (graphs, engineering drawings), text generally reads upwards.
  • Doing the same for the stripe maintains consistency and makes it easier for the shopper to read.

Can the size units be rotated or omitted?

No. It is important to maintain consistency across a category.

Can the size units be rotated? No

  • Numerals do not generally appear in a different orientation to the units in any other communication. Mobile Ready Hero Images are no different.

Can the units be omitted? No

  • Units must be present next to the numerals for legal reasons.
  • They are necessary for the numbers to be properly interpreted.

Can the size units be capitalised or abbreviated?

Size units should use standard abbreviations (e.g. fl oz) and should not be abbreviated further or written with different capitalisation as this may cause confusion. In particular:

  • Units are lower-case if they are not a name. This includes most units that are relevant to products e.g. fl oz, kg
  • Units are capitalised if they are a name. e.g. W = Watts.

Size, location and using a '.':

  • Units should be a smaller size than the numerals they are next to.
  • Units appear underneath the numerals, so that there is always space for up to 3 numerals.
  • Abbreviations typically finish with a '.' However omitting the dot is acceptable, looks cleaner and uses less screen real estate. E.g 'fl. oz.' vs 'fl oz'

Some clarification about fluid ounces:

  • 'fl oz' is the abbreviation for fluid ounces, which is a standard unit for a volume measure.
  • 'oz' is the abbreviation for ounces, which is a standard unit for a weight measure.
  • 'fl oz' and 'oz' are not the same. A fluid ounce of water does weigh one ounce, but these units are different for most other things.
  • Capitalising fl oz (as FL OZ) is incorrect.

Questions about the stripe and size callouts

Can the width of the stripe be changed from the template?

No. The width should be consistent across the categories.

What should the width be?

The width of a vertical stripe or height of a horizontal stripe should be exactly 6 mm in a 23 mm sized image.

  • Bigger sizes than this will fail Google's check that requires 70% of the image (with the pack shot removed) to be white.
  • GS1 image rules state the background must be white. If a stripe is very wide, it becomes the background.
  • Thin stripes aren't wide enough to fit 2 lines of text in the stripe and a three figure number in the size callout.

Can I change the width (just a little bit)? No

  • Any changes would grab the eye through shape disruption, and spoil consistency, leading retailers to reject your Mobile Ready Hero Image.

Can the shape or layout of callouts be changed from the template?

The stripe should be the same as in the photo shop template within downloads, to maintain consistency across Mobile Ready Hero Images.

Two types of size callouts are allowed. They should be either:

  • The solid filled square that is provided within the template. The shape and layout should be kept the same as in the template.

OR

  • An existing category standard lozenge that is already established and used on front of packs across the category. For example, the number of washes basket icon appeared on the front of physical laundry packs for years before appearing off-pack on Mobile Ready Hero Images.

Rationale

  • Retailers demand category standard visual consistency in off-pack communications. They will not accept images where each brand uses their own off-pack icons to describe size (or any other information).
  • Mobile ready hero images are not suitable for trying to establish new visual icons. They are too small and not visible enough for this purpose.

Note

  • Brand teams remain free to do whatever they like on-pack.

Can off-pack communications have colour gradients/vignettes?

No. Colour gradients and vignettes typically reduce the visual clarity of the text. In addition, retailers demand category standard visual consistency in off-pack communications. They will not accept images where each brand uses their method of applying colour gradients (especially different directions and tonal variations).

Why does the stripe colour match the variant and the colour of the size callout match the brand? Why are there two different colours?

The colours help the shopper discriminate the different products in the aisle view. In particular:

  • Colouring the stripe to match the variant helps the shopper to distinguish the variant. Variants are usually communicated by colour. In fact, shoppers often do not remember the name of a particular variant that they want and only remember its colour. Within the confines of a small e-commerce image (particularly on mobile devices), there is little space to communicate the variant colour through front of pack artwork. The stripe provides extra space to get the colour across. The lack of space on the pack is especially problematic for tall thin bottles (e.g. eye liner) that may be thinner than the stripe.
  • Colouring the size to match the brand helps make images from that brand look like part of the same set. It also makes the images more visually pleasing.
  • Using multiple colours enhances the separation between the two different callouts.
 

Can the stripe touch the product image?

No. The stripe can be close to the image but should not touch it. This is because Google's check will fail any background fill that touches the product. However a 0.4mm white keyline is sufficient to pass the check, and achieves a visually similar effect.

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