Why Product Photography is the Key to eCommerce Success
Photographs might not always say a thousand words, but they can make a powerful statement when you need them to. Visual cues aren’t just important, they’re often the root of how we make decisions. When you only have a split second to process information, what you see becomes pivotal to what you do.
For an eCommerce site, it’s worth dissecting this concept to better understand how people interact with your products. If you want to engage and convert, it all starts with showcasing your products in a way that speaks to potential buyers.
Product Images are the First Touchpoint
In a regular store, your customers have the chance to do more than just see your products. They can pick your products up, view them from different angles, and gauge how much they weigh. These sometimes absent-minded gestures may seem unnecessary to the retailer, but they’re actually sending all kinds of critical data to the customer.
Does the product fit in their hands? Do they like the feel of it? Does it look (or smell) like it’s an in-demand item or as though it was forgotten in a back corner? If the products make noise, are those noises loud and obnoxious or pleasant and interesting?
With an eCommerce store or product advertising on social media, the customer doesn’t have these same options. Without these cues, it becomes that much easier to dismiss the product. Photography is usually the first touchpoint you have with customers. If each image isn’t picture-perfect, the buyer is liable to scroll on by.
Whether a customer loves to shop on Amazon or is browsing solely out of necessity, investing in the quality of your photography is a way to compensate for what they’re missing. The right lighting, backdrop, and colors won’t turn your product into an instant smash, but it can go a long way to ‘fill in’ the missing information.
Using a DSLR camera and quality lighting can go a long way. In other words, high-quality photography and simple edits in photoshop will make it easier for the customer to imagine what the product is really like, which can lead to a stronger connection with the item.
Why eCommerce Product Photography Matters
The goal of better photographs is to help the buyer see themselves using and enjoying your product while browsing your product page. Whether you’re selling a wrench or a yoga mat, you want the customer to feel a certain way about what you have to offer to increase your conversion rates.
If the photograph they loved matches the product they receive, the customer is more likely to be satisfied with their purchase and think of your site the next time they need something. For the eCommerce site owner, this translates to fewer complaints and returns. It’s less wasted time and money, and fewer negative reviews to have to defend on your online store.
Some eCommerce owners might dismiss their products as too ‘boring’ or ‘utilitarian’ to benefit from product photography. After all, how exactly do you make a screwdriver captivate an online audience so they’re nothing short of compelled to buy it? Yet this approach somewhat defeats the point of selling online. When you’re working with so few dimensions (i.e.., words, pictures), you have to make the most of the limited tools you do have.
Using Lifestyle Photography to Improve Copy
Ecommerce sites can’t use photography to replace copy entirely. However, they can use it as a strong supplement. At the end of the day, long descriptions of products aren’t always helpful to the buyer. Better photographs can cut down on how much the customer has to read and how much they have to guess for themselves.
There are always certain questions that the customer will have no matter how good your photography is. Questions like ‘how much space will this take up in my home?’ are ones that can’t be answered in your descriptions. However, close-ups and 360° shots can go a long way toward helping the customer make fast decisions about whether to advance to the next phase of the funnel.
Hiring a skilled professional product photographer can also go a long way to creating photos that demonstrate your know-how and expertise. If you do decide to go the DIY product photography route, remember to utilize natural light to showcase your different products.
What Makes for an Attractive Product Photo?
The answer to this question will vary widely based on the type of product you’re offering. At a bare minimum, it means high resolution. From an SEO perspective, make sure that your file sizes aren’t enormous or weighing down your web page.
Your potential customer should instantly be able to identify the product and its function. If your photos are too blurry or too busy, it’s not necessarily an invitation for the customer to investigate any further. For many eCommerce sites, this might mean starting with a white backdrop so the eye isn’t distracted from the ‘star’ of the photo.
From there, a lot of it comes down to creativity. Most eCommerce sites will shoot with full color, but there may be cases where black-and-white makes for a more tempting image. You can even experiment with the two to create a signature style for your site. For instance, placing a full-color image of the product on a black-and-white background. (It certainly works for bright umbrellas juxtaposed against stormy clouds.)
The viewer should be able to see your product at close range and from every available angle. You want to simulate the in-store buying experience however you can, and it all starts with giving customers the full story. You can also consider visual cues that suggest the kind of lifestyle you’re promoting. For example, if you’re selling marble kitchen tiles, you might showcase them in a luxury kitchen.
Hear From Industry Experts
Read the latest tips, research, best practices, and insights from our community of expert B2B service providers.
Boost Perceived Value for eCommerce Businesses
The quality of your branding has a lot with how you’re perceived in the market space. Your customers don’t have time to absorb everything about your site, but they can make associations that will drive your profits higher. When your photography fits with the perception that your customers already have of you, it can make your company seem more credible. This is especially true if you’re struggling against a direct competitor in the space.
And if you’re trying to change your perception or attract new audiences, high-quality images can go a long way toward establishing your company or adjusting your position in the industry. For instance, you might invest in more sophisticated backgrounds if you’re hoping to entice a more affluent customer. Or you might sharpen the resolution of your products so they really leave an impression on the viewer.
Getting your target audience to choose your site starts with consistent quality. If your photographs are lacking, what’s to say that the products themselves aren’t lacking? Having excellent quality photos doesn’t have to break the bank either. It’s far more about the effort you put in to show customers that you care about what you’re selling (and that they should too).