How Bad Product Images Affect Your Online Store Sales?
Long are gone the days of the dominance of offline shopping experience and to keep up with the fast pace of the digital era, players big and small have to re-group, re-invent, re-educate themselves. Just to stay relevant. Just to stay afloat.
Back in 2017 Art Peck, the President and CEO of the Gap Inc. said: “We will leverage our iconic brands and significant scale to deliver growth by shifting to where our customers are shopping – online, value and active.” In early 2019 the company announced the urgent closure of the 200+ of the Gap stores.
Statista estimates the retail e-commerce sales to boom from $2842 billion worldwide in 2018 to $3453 billion by the end of 2019 which is a staggering 21% increase YOY.
Product Photography has now acquired a new level of significance under these new rules of the game, oftentimes being the easiest way to reach, attract, convert and engage the client in the e-commerce domain. In this image-saturated era, the basic product photography standards have risen through an abundance of image-editing tools, filters, affordability of cameras and, naturally, through the popularity of Instagram. The basics of the marketing state, that Content is King.
The basics of the 2019 marketing clarify, that Visual Content is King. Studies show that product photography is now in a position to impact sales at the scale significantly. Visual content is in a position to make it or break it for your sales & marketing.
Moreover, product photography is also in a position to keep your return rates at the bait. 22% of the returns mention, that product displayed on website and product arrived have appearance difference. All entrepreneurs know that a returned item is more than just an unsold item, it’s extra delivery expenses, customer service time wasted and – worst of all – poor online reputation.
Coming from a team of photography enthusiasts, who are religious about product photography, we keep noticing the same mistakes in numerous e-commerce product photographs. However basic those mistakes may seem, eliminating them will make all the difference to the quality of resulting images as well as the impact they have on sales level of an e-commerce store.
This 4-minute read will be useful for those on a tight marketing budget trying to DIY all the product photos for their collection or for those commissioning this work to professionals but wanting to know what to look for while appreciating the output.
1. Don’t be content with just 1 image of the item. Shoot for 3-5 shots.
Having 3-5 shots per item is ideal in fact – as allows to turn an e-commerce user into a client with much higher probability.
The closer the product is to premium pricing – more images per item would be expected. Of course, we are not talking about an overkill of more than a dozen images of one piece, but 3-5 are just a client’s expectation really.
Differently angled – from the front, back or side view; full size or close-ups; isolated or against other objects; lay flat or on a ghost mannequin; whatever the concept – don’t be content with 1 image per item.
It is reported that 1/3 of all surveyed shoppers would like to see more than 1 image per product. Once you have done all the preparation, making another shot or two at a different angle is not a big deal after all.
Retouching is an important stage of the product photography session, that may uplift the poorly done images or vice versa ruin a great original image by overdoing it. Even best retouching will not make the poorly done images great though, but some of the imperfections may indeed be corrected during the process.
In the absence of professional equipment, ideally, you will have bought a piece of white vinyl or plastic in your nearest hardware store to use as a background. The thin sheet of flexible yet sturdy white material can be easily fixed to a table with 2 clips with the other end of it placed against a wall – so to create a seamless background. Check out this video providing straightforward and quick guidance re: setting up the background for product photography.
Proper light in product photography is what alcohol is to a successful party: if you provide too little of it – everybody is going to be sulky and dull if you provide too much of it – things may go wrong in an endless array of ways.
When you talk about professional photography – you talk expensive equipment. When you talk expensive photography equipment – you talk cameras and lenses of course – but you also talk lightning. Like a lot. Of. Expensive lightning. There are front and backlighting, overhead and side lighting as well as a flashlight and fill lights too. And then there are reflectors. And softboxes.
Is this possible to create a decent shot without all that professional equipment? Indeed, it is. But you have to make the best of the natural light and a couple of table lamp stands with adjustable gooseneck – so you can experiment and get the best focus on your photographed object. Getting a DIY softbox created is also a must to diffuse the light.
Achieving a wide depth of field is crucial for that focused sharp image and stabilized camera, low aperture and slow shutter speed are the ways to obtain this result.
Product photography with models is a segment in its own right with a thick manual of its own rules. The major “don’ts” of using models in your session are:
Make sure the model is the right match to your target audience, don’t choose a model based exclusively on good looks. You don’t want your model to overpower your product. Making sure the model is complementing the product is vital.
A model has to look natural and think twice whether you need that fixated smile on the face – akin to stock photography, fake smiles have seen their best times and a calm relaxed expression might do more good for your sales.
“Product first model second” is the mantra for both the model and the photographer before and during the shoot. Don’t allow the model to dominate over the product – visually and mood-wise.
Make sure you shoot at an eye-level, as images taken from below or above model’s eye level appear unnatural and distorted.
Trying too hard is a bit of a verdict in itself. If your mission is to provide a true-to-life portrayal of an object, make sure you do exactly that. While Product Photography for Social media might involve some of the creative spicing to it, images for the online store are best left just realistic without much of a creative twist.
Front shot, back shot and a 45-degree one will be enough to reveal all the necessary detailing for a customer to make an informed decision. The 45-degree shot is the most appealing so might as well be used as a hero image throughout the entire collection.
You might be a rookie or a beginner. But if we talk about your brand’s product photographs – this one is a must to grasp: how to tame your exposure. Both of the crimes are similarly severe: to have an overexposed image or an under-exposed one. So ignoring this important factor is a bit of a red flag, that will reflect in the results, hence, on your sales too.
If the prop is taking away the focus from the object you are trying to sell – don’t use it. If the prop brings no additional value – don’t use it. If the prop is competing for attending with your product – using it is not a good idea either.
For the purpose of an e-commerce store product photography a white background and the product are a picture perfect, that lets your customers learn about the product without distractions and make an informed decision while remaining focused on the matter.
High-resolution images are more appealing to the eye. They look more professional compared to low-res. They provide more clarity, detail and are a better, more realistic depiction of a product. They convert better.
Recommended minimum resolution is 1200px x 1200px. Looking for the easiest way to make your mass market products looking good? Make sure you have professionally looking images in high resolution.
Sounds pretty obvious right? But not too easy to comply with in fact. After you have tasked yourself with a mission, watched some Youtube tutorials, read some “How to” guides on Product Photography and even created a softbox out of a shoe box and some baking sheets, it’s hard to remain critical and objective about the result of your work. You have put your heart and soul into those images, how could they be bad after all that?
The DIY product photography is only good if the result looks like it has been done by a pro. So before you even commence, make sure you set a high standard for yourself not to slide into the trap of being in love with your work for the only reason of being its creator. Pick a website of a competitor, whose imagery you love before you start. If your DIY product images don’t look even close to that, however hard you tried or however much you think it’s OK – don’t use them.
After all, if there is one single factor that can impact your sales negatively – this is bad over-exposed images at wrong angles with long shadows and out of focus. One thing, that is not worth practicing budget saving is the things that have been statistically proven to increase your sales, engagement, time of page, loyalty etc. – product photography. So unless you manage to reproduce consistently great imagery as a result of your crash DIY course – it is best to find hire a pro to do it. This investment has never failed to bring a high ROI.
Squareshot is a New York-based product photography studio that offers sharp, high-resolution, color-accurate product photo of Flat Lay and Ghost Mannequin Apparel, Jewelry, Cosmetics, Watches, Bags, Shoes and all types of Accessories for Online Stores to increase their sales and decrease order returns.
© 2018 Squareshot.