Increase your sales by paying close attention to your online product photography. Here are three tips from an industry expert for taking better photos.
Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar retailer finally bringing your business online, or you’re already using e-commerce as your primary point-of-sale, product shots are essential to properly showcasing your wares to would-be customers. DIY is the name of the game when it comes to bootstrapped enterprises, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of making products — or your online store — appear cheap.
First Impressions Are Important
Although first impressions are key to most successful transactions, many e-tailers get off on the wrong foot by representing their products with less than favorable images. Due to budget constraints (and, in some cases, a lack of design intent) online sellers sometimes shoot web and catalogue images with smartphones and low-grade digital cameras, reducing the beauty and implied utility of their products to pixelated obfuscations.
Good online product photography and content has a huge, proven impact on sales and has contributed to the rise of many prominent organizations (just ask Airbnb). The ASD Insider spoke to Sam Shearer, Managing Director of Ortery, a producer of DIY photo solutions, to get his online photography tips and show how producing high quality shots can boost sales big time.
Three tips for giving your products their best chance to sell
1.Make an investment in good photo equipment
Put down your phone. Smartphones may work for Instagram and Facebook selfies, but for the most part, you need a high quality camera to capture the essence of your online products. Penny pinching solutions often lead to more work in the long run. “A lot of retailers and e-commerce stores have a tendency, because money is tight, to use the cheapest photo solution they can find. Frankly, 99% of the time, cheap photography isn’t a solution. Pictures need to be clean. When vendors spend too much time editing and attempting an amateur DIY approach, taking pictures becomes the bottleneck for their complete workflow,” says Shearer.
There are many e-commerce photo solutions out there, but you’ll want to look into services that allow for high-quality image capture that anyone on your staff can easily use. “Your goal,” says Shearer, “should be to have controlled lighting environments and equipment that allows you to quickly take a picture, edit the picture, retouch it, process it, and get it ready for use on the web or in a product catalogue. “ The time and expense saved in the long run will be well worth it.
2. Take consistent shots (and from a lot of angles), all of the time
Face it — as a vendor, you’ve seen (or utilized) shots of similar images taken in subpar lighting, from disparate angles. For continuity, consistency is key, especially in the fast paced world of ecommerce. “Shooting for e-commerce means you’re shooting a lot of images all the time. It’s a high burnout type job,” says Shearer. “Our customers like solutions where you can set up standard operating procedures about how to photograph a specific item.” While using a verified photo solution is ideal, if you have to shoot DIY on the fly, make sure to make a note of your photo settings including the filter, aperture, and product placement for best results time and time again. If you absolutely insist on doing it all yourself, try these online photography tips.
Additionally, it’s important to take 360-degree images of any product you need to shoot to generate customer trust. To do this you’ll need to uniformly rotate the product and take a minimum of fourshots to present as many vantage points as possible. “We’ve noticed that 360-degree views of product are extremely popular with our e-commerce clients and especially E-bay sellers, “ says Shearer. The more images of a product you can provide, while saving on time and costs, the more likely you’ll get a sale.
3. A white background is the way to go
It’s not just because minimalism is in at the moment. Says Shearer, “If the goal for taking photographs is to put them on the web for e-commerce or for a print catalogue, there are certain requirements that are in play for that photo. Typically, it’s going to need to be on a pure white background.”
White backgrounds are the industry standard for major websites, and not just because Marissa Mayer mandated the design choice during her tenure at Google. White backgrounds are clean, uncluttered, and, unfortunately, difficult to shoot consistently. Again, while saved settings can assist you with product shot continuity, professional photo solutions can make difficult image shots against white backgrounds seamless. “Let’s say it’s something as difficult as a white object on a white background,” Shearer explains. “Once you’ve taken that picture, you need a way to save those settings so that the next time you photograph a similar item, the information is recorded as part of your chosen solution.”
The Final Word.
Along with the three best practices covered above, shy of adding a photography specialist to your payroll, it is best to invest in a professional solution when you’re producing many images consistently. Invest in online product photography, do your own testing to see your sales per item increase. Your sales and margins will thank you.
Looking for step-by-step e-commerce guidance and to learn more about online photography? Join us at the next ASD Market Week, a 4-day B2B merchandise trade show and retail education conference in one in Las Vegas! Get your free ticket here.
By Sam Shearer
Sam is the Managing Director of Ortery, an Irvine, CA-based company that provides turnkey “product photography studios” and some of the most unique photography solutions available to the e-commerce industry. Meet executives at Ortery in person at ASD Market Week or check them out online.