Tips for Effective E-Commerce Photography
It's obvious that photography plays a critical role in e-commerce success. When it's done well, professional e-commerce photography delivers product images that incentivize consumers to explore merchandise and finalize purchases, converting online window shoppers into customers and, hopefully, passionate brand advocates.
Photography has several other implications for your e-commerce business. The most important goal of online photography is to accurately portray your products, ensuring that you don't disappoint customers when items arrive on their doorsteps.
To improve customer satisfaction and reduce return rates, your product images need to consistently and clearly reflect your actual products, giving consumers the visual information they need to make the right buying decisions.
Leveraging Photography to Improve Customer Engagement
The best e-commerce brands leverage photography to motivate consumers to engage more deeply with their products. At Dotcom Distribution, we're noticing that today's online shoppers expect opportunities to interact with product images, an expectation that e-commerce retailers can meet using several image-based strategies for improved engagement:
- Multiple views: Multiple views of your products offer value because they increase the amount of visual information consumers can access during the buying process. At a minimum, you should offer at least two views of the product. The sweet spot for e-commerce product images is around four views or five views — anything more and you risk overwhelming or annoying visitors.
- 360-degree views: Many online retailers provide 360-degree views of products generated with proprietary equipment on a movable tripod. In fact, some retailers are even offering 360-degree-plus views that enable shoppers to see the product from the top down. By giving shoppers more viewing angle options, you empower them with a convenient way to thoroughly evaluate the product before they place an order.
- Product videos: At Dotcom Distribution, we recognize the value of product videos and offer full video capabilities to our clients. However, even though videos improve engagement by moving beyond static images, they're not intended to be used as stand-alone tools. Videos should be accompanied by other enhanced product images.
Best Practices in E-Commerce Photography
As an online retailer, the images you deliver to site visitors need to be tailored to the market as well as your unique merchandising and marketing goals. However, there are at least three best practices that generally apply to all e-commerce images and photography initiatives:
1. Prioritize consistency. Consistency is a constant priority in high-quality e-commerce photography. Although the style of your product images won't be the same as your competitors, it's important for the images displayed on your site to feature the same basic characteristics. Magnification, lighting, shape — you need to consider how these and other factors contribute to consistency and help create an exceptional online customer experience.
2. Create style sheets. Detailed style sheets provide creative direction for your product images and go a long way toward improving the visual consistency of your online catalog. The most important issues to address in your style sheet are the desired background (which can be included in the photo or generated digitally) and lighting requirements (e.g., flat light, directional light, shadows, etc.). The more details you provide in your style sheets, the easier it will be for creative professionals to produce consistent, high-quality photos for your brand.
3. Consider brand image. The way you present your photos determines your brand image. In addition to paying attention to the look and feel of your images, consider how you can use background colors and other variables to enhance the brand image you're trying to present.
First-rate e-commerce photography boils down to good communication. Your goal should be to accurately communicate visual information about your products to consumers. To get there you'll need to clearly define the message you're trying to convey through your images and carefully communicate the desired style to your creative professionals.
Maria Haggerty is CEO and one of the original founders of Dotcom Distribution, a premier provider of B2C and B2B fulfillment and distribution services. She received her Bachelor of Business Administration from University of Houston, C.T. Bauer College of Business with a concentration in Accounting. Maria plays an integral role in developing and defining all aspects of the business, including sales and marketing, operations, finance and IT. As CEO, she is responsible for providing strategic leadership, establishing long range goals, and developing strategies for the senior leadership team. Maria has developed the systemic and procedural infrastructure necessary to provide timely and accurate analysis of budgets, financial reports and financial trends in order to assist the Board, senior executives and clients in performing their responsibilities while achieving favorable results. She works closely with the leadership team to enhance, develop, and enforce procedures that will improve the overall operation and effectiveness of the corporation. During her tenure at the Dotcom, Maria has developed an environment of continual improvement by supporting the Senior Leadership Team and their department managers on continuous process, space labor, automation, and financial best practices. Prior to founding Dotcom, Maria was a CPA at Arthur Andersen and was later the CFO of GoodTimes Home Video where she helped grow the company’s distribution business. When Maria is not in the office, she enjoys traveling around the world and practicing her photography skills.