If a picture is worth a thousand words, imagine how much more it’s worth when converted to pounds.
E-commerce is clearly more dependent on photography than any other kind of sales channel, because it breaks from the traditional ‘ bricks and mortar’ shopping experience. Consumers cannot simply walk into a store, pick up, sit on, sit in or even taste the product they are interested in, before making the purchase. An e-commerce website needs to convey all the same information through a variety of narrower mediums, primarily photographs, words and video.
The reason photography is so important is primarily because people are generally not very good at describing things they see.
For online retailers, product photography for e-commerce needs to supplement the 5 senses for the item that a shopper would normally rely on to make a purchase decision in-person, and then to increase the odds that they will actually click ‘add to basket.’ It has a considerable amount of ground to cover if it is to deliver this sales conversion. Quality product photography should be able to replace the customers five senses.
Every retailer should be aim to showcase their products to their fullest to potential customers. That’s just plain common sense. While retailers probably know their product inside and out, a customer may not. Today’s web-savy customers know how to seek out information that will inform and steer their buying decisions, such as online reviews, social shares, Pinterest boards and bloggers, to name but a few. Therefore presenting products through quality photography enables an e-commerce retailer to cut through the ‘noise’ and add value and worthiness.
Good photography adds authority, which in turn generates the trust of the customer.
There is a lot of discussion about the ‘perceived value’ of a product, in the eyes of a customer. This is especially important when distinguishing between competitors. When a customer is faced with two identical products, with identical prices on separate websites, it is usually the quality of the photography used to showcase the product that will convert the sale. By nature, humans look and browse things that look good on eye. So it’s no surprise good photography can lure to sell more.
How can we maximise the potential of photography for e-commerce:
- Do not underestimate the value of simplicity. We want things to look and feel fluid, sleek, and minimal. A strong clean photographic style creates a statement that is bigger than just one product. Stripping out the clutter in your imagery and focusing on the product not only creates a more versatile image that you can use for multiple things, but can also help elevate the perceived value of your products, and your brand as a whole.
- Do not forget the context of the image and the background. This is relevant for both product images, where a consistent backdrop allows the focus to remain on the product and also lifestyle images, where customer look for empathy and recognition in the items and styling around the product. The key here is the age old mantra – be consistent.
- Do consider the design of your website, when preparing photo shoots. Will the design work best with landscape, portrait or square images? Is there enough space or contrast to allow for text to be used alongside or on top of the image? In an ideal world the designer will be given a library of quality images at the start of the project to enable them to shape the design around it, resulting in a far better design process.
- Consider alternative views of each product. Close-ups, underneath, from the inside looking out etc etc. The more detailed options you can then present to your potential customer, the more they understand the value of the product and the fewer questions they have. This also helps minimise the risk of product returns, do to a lack of understanding about the product.
- Use high-resolution photography as much as possible. Not only does this showcase the product best, but it also allows for clearer images on retina screens (Apple devices) and the ability to add a detailed zoom feature to the website.
In summary – do invest in good photography as a key component to your e-commerce project. Consider finding and investing in the work of a trusted photographer, with whom you can clearly outline your vision for the store.
If you have the skills or preference to do the photography in-house, then please refer to the excellent Shopify resource: The Ultimate DIY Guide to Beautiful Product Photography It provides an excellent overview of the key considerations, both aesthetic and technical.