Furniture retailers are failing to mirror the in-store experience when showcasing products online, according to new research by imaging and workflow specialist SpinMe, which studied the websites of 20 well-known brands to see how three pieces of furniture - a single bed, two-seater sofa and dining table - are displayed to shoppers.

The survey revealed a lack of consistency across each furniture category. Just 15% present their beds and sofas with the same quantity, style of shots and product display page design, while only a fifth represent dining tables in a uniform way.

The number of images used to promote each piece of furniture also varies, the research found. Beds are depicted with an average of four photographs, sofas show six and dining tables five.

The majority of retailers offer detailed shots. 55% include at least one image of part of a dining table, such as the leg, while 65% feature close-ups of beds. Over two thirds (70%) of brands show specific sections of sofas, with 85% of these incorporating a fabric swatch that allows shoppers to hover over the image to change the sofa colour.

Meanwhile, fewer than half of those surveyed provide a picture showing the measurements of a piece of furniture. 45% include a line drawing with dimensions of sofas, 40% give measurements for beds while 35% help customers to better visualise tables.

Upselling products as part of a shoppable set does not appear to have been widely adopted, according to SpinMe’s findings – only 20% of retailers offer chairs to match a table within the same product display page, or accessories such as a mattress alongside a bed. Just 15% offer footstools or throw cushions alongside sofas.

Technology that enhances images is widely used, with 80% of retailers incorporating a zoom function allowing shoppers to examine items in detail. However, only seven retailers include images that can be turned 360 degrees so the product can be seen from all angles, and only a quarter incorporate videos.

“Furniture retailers are displaying a good number of product shots, and most are integrating technologies that enrich these images, but our research shows they are not creating a consistent visual customer experience online,” says SpinMe CEO, David Brint. “Buying furniture is a considerable investment for consumers, and retailers need to mirror the immersive, familiar in-store feeling if they are to increase pre-purchase confidence.”