Online stores have many advantages over their brick-and-mortar competition, but one glaring weakness.
Buyers cannot touch and see what they’re buying.
Addressing this disconnect is a significant challenge for eCommerce retailers, but offers tremendously lucrative opportunity for those that take the time to do it right.
When it comes to easing the doubts of potential customers, good pictures presented strategically not only eliminate psychological barriers in the minds of users, but pave the way to the massive revenue that even minor increases to your conversion rate can provide your business.
Pictures speak a thousand words, and so each one represents a thousand words worth of opportunity to persuade a potential customer that your products are worth buying.
Here’s how to make the most of them:
1. Tell A Story
Storytelling has long been one of the most powerful tools in a marketer’s arsenal.
I bet you didn’t know that when you go to the mall, store windows aren’t designed to present products.
They’re designed to tell a story.
They present pictures of certain lifestyles, snapshots into a life or certain experiences that for a price, customers are able to participate in. High prices for garments and accessories can be tough to swallow, but when a customer feels that what they are purchasing is access to an image, identity, or experience they want to enjoy; prices need no justification.
This is a marketing strategy common to retail that is easily carried over to eCommerce, and your product photos are an extremely powerful tool to do so.
When taking your product photos (or having them taken) emphasising storytelling elements allows your audience to connect not just with your product, but with intangible elements that make them truly desire it, allowing you to enjoy greater sales at higher prices.
Consider this example from White Cloud Photographic, a legendary food/drink product photography house:
This picture presents far more than just a brand of stout. It presents images and symbols associated with the identity and values of those who make, and drink, that stout! Including symbols like cards (all spades, the most dashing of card houses), and textural elements like the wood background and heavy, dark keys says something more about what this product is than the bottle alone.
While maybe achieving a level of quality equivalent to one with a PhD in product photography isn’t within the abilities of every eCommerce store, following the principles they use are.
For an in-depth guide to shooting product photos that tell a story, consider checking out this tutorial!
2. Get Your Lighting Right
More than any other variable, lighting can make or break a product photo.
Shooting with a bad camera and good lighting is better than shooting with bad lighting and a great camera.
Light is how a photo determines where the eye looks and the way a picture feels. Watch the following video, and pause it randomly to get an impression of just how big of an impact lighting can have on the way the frozen frames look and feel.
Without changing her facial expression, the impression of how this woman feels changes drastically. Sadness, happiness, and terror can all be relayed by simply changing the colour and position of a single light!
When it comes to product photography, lighting doesn’t have to be complex. With basic equipment, professional-quality product photo’s are accessible on any budget. For a detailed guide on how to take your own high-quality product photo’s without breaking the bank, check Shopify’s comprehensive guide to DIY product photography.
3. Keep Images Consistent
Ensuring that similar products are presented in the same way creates a better user experience, but also saves you significant time and energy.
It’s easier to scan from product to product when each one is oriented in the same manner, the brain doesn’t have to ‘re-set’ to find the features it’s looking for with each product. In the picture below, you can get an impression of how easy it is to jump from product to product, comparing aesthetics and features. The eye doesn’t have to ‘seek out’ the element in each photo it’s looking to compare because you know beforehand exactly where each one is going to be.
Cleverly, the only pictures not presented consistently are those that are distinct products.
SkullCandy has chosen to orient its Xbox headphones in a different direction, drawing attention to them and the feature that distinguishes them from all the others (the microphone).
Of course, the Ambush Bluetooth speaker also stands out, as it’s shape is entirely distinct!
Consistent Images Save Money
Presenting similar product’s the consistently improves user experience by helping customers ‘scan’ pages for the features they’re looking for, and compare them from product to product. It
It also makes product photography easier and more efficient for your business. By picking a single format for each product type you sell, you only need to set your shots up once! As soon as you’ve got your photo the way you want it, it’s a simple matter of swapping out all your products to quickly and easily generate hundreds of high-quality product photos!
4. Think About Your Background
Traditionally, you’ll see that most recommend plain white backgrounds for eCommerce product photography. Safe for essentially any colour palette and easy to manage, white is a sure-fire way to keep images clean, consistent, and put your products front-and-centre.
But it isn’t very exciting.
Like we saw in the White Cloud image above, creative backgrounds can be a great way to emphasise the elements of your product photo’s that generate conversions and drive sales.
Plenty of successful eCommerce retailers take alternatives approach to their photo backgrounds. Consider Zara’s bold colour approach:
On a white background, such simple dresses would struggle to stand out amongst colourful alternatives. By placing them on an electric-orange background, these pictures are injected with an energy and vitality that we can’t help but be drawn to!
White Backgrounds Dominate For a Reason
When it comes to picking the backgrounds right for you, the benefits of colour and detail should not be dismissed, but the advantages of white should also be recognised.
Colour produces emphasis, but it isn’t nearly as versatile. If the aesthetic of your website changes over time, white backgrounds will almost always be usable, whereas bold colours might not! Detailed backgrounds help tell a story a viewer can relate to, but they are harder to edit and produce images of typically larger filesize.
The beset background for your product photo’s depends on your unique circumstances. Understand the costs and benefits of each choice, and you’re more prepared to pick the option best for you
5. Leverage the Power Of a 360° View.
Diamond rings are major purchase decisions that customers contemplate for months before making. Costing sometimes a quarter of one’s yearly salary, eCommerce stores struggle to compete against brick-and-mortar retailers that allow a customer to see and touch what they are buying.
Jamesallen.com dominates in this space online by providing an incredible 360° view of all their products.
James Allen isn’t the only eCommerce brand leveraging the power of 360° views to drive conversions. Testing the impact of 360 photography on 250 of its products, DueMaternity found that 360° views increased conversions by 27% over standard photos!
How To Incorporate 360° Photos Into Your Store
No matter the platform you use for your store, you can find an app to quickly and easily incorporate 360° photos.
Shopify has apps like Magic 360 and Imajize. Magento has 360 Product Viewer and others. WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Yo!Kart and more all offer different solutions to make incorporating a 360° view easy. Simply download the app, follow the instructions, and watch as your conversion rate explodes!
Drive Conversions With More Than Product Photos
Product photos are certainly one of the most powerful tools to increase viewer trust in your products and brand, but they are far from the only aspect of user experience you can strategically leverage to increase your conversions and drive sales.
With great photos in place to attract the attention of viewers, great content can be what it takes to make the sale.
Find out how to write product descriptions and on-page content to enhance user experience, send more users down your conversion funnel, and make more money by checking out our next article, Copy That Converts: A 5 Step Guide.