A cataloger’s job of presenting merchandise is second in importance only to selecting the right merchandise. Readers decide in seconds whether they’re going to continue to read about a product or move on. The amount of information readers comprehend “at a glance” isn’t limited by their brains; it’s only limited by what we put in front of them. Even those interested in a product will skip over it if they don’t understand it or they’re not “sold” on it.
What and how you show product in your catalog makes all the difference in the world. The following list contains the most frequent mistakes made by catalog merchandisers.
Mistake No. 1: Mediocre or Poor Photography
There’s no excuse for low quality photography. Your shots should be technically excellent, whether still life or on-figure. This quality affects everything down the line, including color quality and print photo reproduction.
Lighting is a critical factor in making your photos top quality. It can romance a shot, but it can also kill a sale if it’s so dramatic that you can’t see the product. Lighting for dramatic colors (e.g. black and white being a common challenge) is an art.
Aesthetics make a big difference too. Merchandise can come to life when shot at the right angle.
Mistake No. 2: Busy Backgrounds and Surfaces
Sometimes, in the effort to warm up a shot, create a sense of place or simply add drama, creative talent on the set (art directors, photographers and stylists) set up shots that backfire. Why? Complicated backgrounds actually take readers’ eyes away from the product, the very place you want readers to focus. In some cases, art directors are so excited about a great location (or simply want to justify the expense of traveling) that they make the background as important as the merchandise, when they should be directing the photographer to blur out a background.