Photography can make or break your website. It can be the difference between you making a sale or putting off a potential customer. As humans, it’s hard-wired in us to process and retain visual information so that we make sense of the world around us. Photography plays a key part in visual communication and is therefore fundamental to the success of your ecommerce business.
Your site should appear professional across every touchpoint, which means displaying high-quality images across all visual areas, whether your business is a small startup or an established brand, you need to reflect a degree of professionalism to your customers.
In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of good photography and how you can ensure your ecommerce site has it.
THE IMPACT OF POOR PRODUCT PHOTOGRAPHY FOR ECOMMERCE
First impressions are everything, and a decision can be made whether your site is trustworthy in a matter of seconds.
Your potential customers won’t hand over their hard-earned money if they’re greeted with amateur, low-quality images when they land on your site. You need to convince them that your business is reputable and that they can put their confidence in you.
If you fail to do this, you WILL lose out on sales. That’s the bottom line. No matter how good your products are, if you have bad images you’re not going to make money.
Take a look at the example below. Which shop would you trust with your money?
It’s the same shop, with the same theme, selling the same products. However, shop B have high-quality photos.
This is even more important when dealing with high-cost items such as watches. – why would a customer hand over £200+ of their money for one of the watches in shop A, when they can’t even see the products properly?
This shop will lose out on a lot of money, as their site visitors will most likely click off their site straight away and go look at a competitor who’s gone to the effort of taking good photos. It’s therefore pivotal that you use good photography on your website.[quote]
WHY GOOD PHOTOGRAPHY MATTERS TO YOUR ECOMMERCE BUSINESS
- Photos communicate information that words don’t
- Good quality images increase conversions
- Photos help to build trust with your customers
- Make your website look more appealing and help to build your brand
- They can be used on multiple channels including social media, email, blog, print etc.
- They’ll receive more engagement on social media
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We’re going to move onto the different types of photography on your site, and our tips to ensure it’s of the highest quality. For the purpose of this article, we’ll refer to the two main types of imagery as ‘product photography’ and ‘lifestyle photography’.
One of the biggest drawbacks of online shopping is that you can’t physically touch and see the product in front of you. This causes anxiety amongst shoppers, particularly if they’re purchasing from a website they haven’t used previously. You need to minimise this fear of the unknown by providing clarity and detail in your product images, offering as much visual information as possible.
WHERE TO USE IT
Product photography should be used on your product pages to make your offering look attractive and to entice your visitors to make a purchase.
CLEAN STUDIO PHOTOGRAPHY
Clean studio images are taken on a plain neutral background (usually white) and are often cut out using editing software to remove background and shadow so that the product is the only focus. The purpose of these photos is to depict the product as accurately as possible.
They’re crisp, clear and professional; making them ideal for use across multiple channels.
DO IT YOURSELF OR HIRE A PROFESSIONAL?
You don’t need lots of fancy equipment or a huge budget to take effective product images, you just need the know-how.
Therefore, we recommend having a go at learning how to do it properly yourself. Once you get the set-up and process nailed down, you’ll be able to create beautiful product images in no time.
PROVIDE MULTIPLE ANGLES
Don’t think that just displaying one product image will do the job, because it won’t. If you go into a brick-and-mortar shop and see a product on display you can touch it, feel the quality of the material and inspect it from all angles. This isn’t possible online. So you need to provide images from multiple angles so that your customers can get a feel for your product.
AVOID SUPPLIER IMAGES
We strongly recommend avoiding supplier images. There’ll be hundreds of other businesses out there using the exact same images as you. In order to build trust and stand out from the crowd, you need to put your own stamp on it. They contribute to your overall brand identity which is vital to achieving long-term success.
In the fashion industry, it’s a standard expectation to see the products modelled on real people, rather than just mannequins. Customers don’t have the option to try the items on when shopping online, so they need to see how they look in real life.
If your products are wearable it’s worth finding a suitable model to show your products off to their full potential. You have two options here, you can either hire a professional model or find someone that you know.
If you hire a model, choose someone that’s well suited to your brand and effectively represents your target customer. You can either go through a modelling agency or find someone who works freelance, depending on what you’re looking for.
If you want to save money, you could ask a friend or someone that you know to feature in your photos. This is ideal for startup businesses with limited resource, as you don’t have to fork out lots of money to hire someone. Remember to give them more direction and make them feel as comfortable as possible during the shoot.
Don’t forget models come in all shapes and sizes. If you’re selling products for animals, including a furry friend in the photo is going to increase emotional engagement.
In lifestyle photography, the product is shown in it’s intended environment, providing context for how that product would be used. It’s used for inspiration, to tell stories, and give your products more personality. Not only is it extremely important that you invest in lifestyle photography but it’s also crucial for building your brand and making your product offering more attractive.
The clinical white product images are the foundations to your ecommerce site, and lifestyle images are the decoration. The two types should be used in conjunction with one another to showcase a product to its full potential.
DO IT YOURSELF OR HIRE A PROFESSIONAL?
If you have reasonable photography skills and access to a decent camera (preferably a DSLR) then you could try your hand at taking lifestyle images yourself. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have friends or family who are into photography, see if they’ll offer a helping hand.
If you don’t know anyone that can help, and you’re not confident enough to take the photos yourself, it may be better to go down the route of a professional photographer. It’s going to cost you money, but it’s an investment that’s worthwhile if you’re serious about growing your business.
WHERE TO USE LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHY
Lifestyle images can be used effectively across all touch-points of your website. Use them in your web banners and promo graphics on your homepage. Add interest to your product pages, and even spruce up your ‘about us’ page.
This type of photography is highly suitable for use across your marketing channels too such as social media and email. They make your product look more appealing and help to reinforce your brand, so it’s worth investing time into getting them right.
Learn more about lifestyle vs ecommerce photography.
SET THE SCENE
You can be more creative with lifestyle shots. Choose relevant settings and props to add to the overall styling of the photos. For example, if you’re selling a picnic set, actually go outside and set it up outside on the grass to demonstrate it’s real-life use.
BEHIND THE SCENES SHOTS
If you’re arranging a shoot with a professional photographer, it’s a good idea to get some behind the scenes shots of the people behind your business. They can be very useful, especially for small businesses as they’re ideal for use on your ‘about us’ page. This lets your visitors know that there are real people behind your brand and you’re not going to scam them.
If you make your products yourself, take some shots in action to show the work and craftsmanship that’s gone into the production, giving your customers an insight into your workplace. Photos like these are great for press releases in the future, and can also be used in marketing materials.
Good photos answer customer questions and communicate information that the text on your website can’t. It’s therefore well worth investing in your ecommerce photography to ensure your online shop is appealing, informative and trustworthy. This will ultimately lead to increased conversions and more sales when executed well.
EKM’s Top Tips for creating professional-looking product photos
If you’re planning on taking your own product photos there are a few tips to take from this blog to help you out. If you’d like to read more on how to create stunning product photography with your own setup, why not read our blog on “How to get cheap but professional product photography set up“.