What you see is what you get… or is it?

You’ve got to love life for being so unpredictable and uncontainable. No matter how hard you try to organise, classify, regulate things – sooner or later something unforeseen will happen, a loophole will open, a different interpretation will emerge.

Recently, a heated discussion was initiated on the bidorbuy Forum about one such possible source of confusion: the thumbnail images.

As every seller on bidorbuy knows, thumbnail images are one of the crucial elements of a listing. They are perhaps even more important than the title, because shoppers browsing the bidorbuy pages are more likely to notice an attractive image than to read even a short title.

No wonder, then, that sellers reserve the most appealing images for the thumbnail position. The problem arises when we consider this question: can sellers take certain artistic liberties with the thumbnail in order to make it as eye-catching as possible, or should the thumbnail image remain strictly faithful to the item?

Hmmm… the former is tempting. Some sellers like to use the thumbnail image in their listings as a sort of a generic calling card. However, this can cause misunderstandings. For example, you as a seller spend long hours working hard to create well-designed and accurate listings, but a buyer sees the generic thumbnail and, without reading the listing, places a bid…

As a result, a flood of bad feelings can break loose.

So, sellers, think hard before you put up a thumbnail image of a car for a listing selling a car paint scratch removing pen; a thumbnail image of a full makeup set for a listing in which you are selling only several items from that set; a thumbnail image of a coffee table with a beautiful vase for a listing selling only the coffee table (or the other way around). Oh yes, and remove that cat that sneaked into the photograph,  just in case the buyer demands that your pet be shipped along with the brush you are selling!

As for the official bidorbuy take on the issue of thumbnails – we recommend using the image of the item. A generic image is acceptable for brand-new items of mass production (do check the copyrights, though.) In border cases, bidorbuy will, of course, resort to common sense (as should the buyers) and probably will not insist on the seller delivering the cat featured in a hair brush listing, or the chauffer featured in a car listing, etc.

To sum up, when selling on an online marketplace, it is always better to be literal than clever. This probably applies to selling in general, and in view of the new Consumer Protection Act sellers all over South Africa would do well to make double-sure that their advertisement is the true reflection of their product.