How to Get Noticed with Successful eCommerce Product Photography

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It's been said that "a picture is worth a thousand words," and it's never been more true than with eCommerce photography. Digital marketing is more competitive than ever and solid product photography can make your brand shine.

Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Lackluster photos are likely to be overlooked. Worse yet, sloppy photography creates a very poor first impression and can be devastating to the brand image, decreasing further engagement.

We take a closer look at the impact of product photography as well as the most effective photography strategies to produce brilliant brand results. With a few key elements in place, it's easier than you might think! Check out these product photography tips from our 3PL eCommerce experts:

Give Them What They Want

The beauty of eCommerce is the ability for customers to get a sense of the products they are seeking from the comfort of their homes. Online shoppers expect a good feel for a product without having to do a lot of extra research. The last thing any online retailer wants is for a customer to leave their page to find the information they need somewhere else.

The most effective way to make sure this never happens is to furnish them with all the visual information they are seeking in one place. This is where the product photo gallery comes in.  Product photos are the main way consumers take in information and should supply sufficient information to leave few questions about the product.  When it comes to photo quantity, more is better. Posting only one or two photos leaves the consumer wondering what you aren't showing them.

Make it easy for shoppers to inspect your products by providing them with several good-quality photos from various angles. Keep in mind that the brain can process photos much faster than text, and photos are also much more memorable than text. In fact, research at MIT found that the brain can remember photos even when only exposed to them for 13 milliseconds. We are constantly scanning for easy-to-process information, and photos are the number one way to meet this need. A good product description is important, but without accurate photos, even the best descriptions have nowhere to land.

Use Photos to Create Curiosity

Strategically angled photos can leverage our photo-seeking brains even more by opening up curiosity about products.  A quality close-up photo can cause a consumer to think: "Oh, it has an extra pocket" or "Is that a button or zip closure?"  Photos can both create and answer these questions. Detailed photos help consumers to appreciate features they might otherwise skim over.  Close-up and angled photos can also be used to draw attention to the features that set your product apart. The more familiar buyers are with a product, the more it translates to dollars paid, better online reviews, and return customers.

Photos Say a Lot About Your Brand

Product photos introduce not only your product but your entire brand. The competition for online retailers is higher than ever, and our Instagram-focused culture has even the layperson appreciating photography in a whole new way. Every photo on your site and social accounts should be clean, consistent, and professional. Using quality product photos is your opportunity to tell potential customers who you are, and being consistent leads to brand recognition. There should be a clear style that photos communicate, and it should reflect exactly what your brand wants to project. The right photos will give your entire brand a more professional appearance and communicate dependability, quality, and confidence.

Photos Create a Memorable Online Shopping Experience

The beauty of online retail is that you can use photography to create an online space that represents your business without the physical floor space you would otherwise need.  Well-thought-out photos give online shoppers the feeling that they walked right into your business setting. Whether you sell on Amazon, eBay, Shopify, Walmart Marketplace, or other online marketplaces, eCommerce photography is your virtual storefront. Make it count by using photos that truly reflect what sets you apart.

Two Effective Types of Product Photos and When to Use Them

There are two basic types of photo content when it comes to product photography: Photos of the product only, and photos that show the product in use, or "in-context" photos.  Both types of product photography are best when kept simple. This means that using a simple white or light background is the way to go when it comes to product-only photos, and pleasant uncluttered backgrounds are best for in-context photos.

1. Product-Only Photos

Product-only photos should make up at least 80 percent of product photography. Keeping it simple allows the product to shine and gives less visual information for the consumer to digest.  Essentially, it communicates that what you see is what you get. Product-only photos are also much more efficient and cost-effective to set up and shoot.

2. In-Context Photos

In addition to simple, clean product-only photos, consider including one or two "in-context photos" particularly on big-ticket items. An example of this would be a sporting goods business that uses mostly product-only photos of smaller items but adds an in-context photo for a larger item, such as a kayak. One or two in-context photos can go a long way to help consumers to visualize using the product and increase engagement and conversion rates in the process. These should be thoughtfully produced with minimal distractions in the background. In-context photos also do very well on social media where they draw the customer in with a more artistic, lifestyle-driven incentive.

Basic Recommendations for Product Photography

It doesn't take a huge budget or professional photographer to improve product photography. It only requires a few key elements. Let's look at how to get started if you need to upgrade your photo skills.

  1. A camera that you can figure out. There are many cameras out there, ranging from beginner point and shoot to professional DSLR cameras. The best camera is one that you can get comfortable with fairly quickly. Even smartphones can produce outstanding photos! A camera and lens with an adjustable aperture and white balance is a bonus.
  2. Lighting. You can invest in a couple of softboxes or lookup ways to make your own, but the best light is free. Set up in front of a large window so that light comes toward your product. If the light is too harsh you might need to diffuse it with a soft sheer panel or play with angles and different times of the day.  Once good outside light is coming in, look for areas without shadows and use filler light to minimize them by lighting from additional angles.
  3. A solid light background. Depending on your product, this can be as small as a white poster board, or you can invest in a larger white or light backdrop. Get creative with clips and hang it up so that the background is both behind and underneath the product.
  4. A tripod. The biggest cause of blurry photos is camera shake, which is very difficult to avoid when you are hand holding a camera. Using a tripod goes a long way to stabilize your camera. There are tripods available for smartphones as well.

Creating a stellar product photo gallery is not as hard as you might think, and it's well worth the investment and effort. Once the learning curve is behind you, you'll be on your way to creating an eCommerce brand that is here to stay.

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