When it comes to running an ecommerce business, there are hundreds of factors that affect sales, conversions, and success. Knowing which of these factors to focus your time, money, and energy on can prove to be challenging and exhausting. And while it's just one of many keys to being successful, product photography and optimization is one element you can't afford to overlook.
The Significance of Product Photography
The human brain is structured in a way that it processes visual information much faster and more efficiently than text-based content. In fact, a single image is more effective than multiple paragraphs of text in a product's description. "Research by Nielson Norman shows that a miniscule 16 percent of readers actually read word-for-word 79 percent just skim for the highlight," marketer Michael White explains. "And when online shopping across a diverse network of ecommerce retailers, we're guessing this 16 percent is even lower. For many people no images means no go."
Practically speaking, images help fill the void that exists between online users and the products they're shopping for. Whereas in-store shoppers get the chance to touch and feel the products they're thinking about buying, online shoppers have no such luxury. They have to gather information without the benefit of being able to interact with the product in person. Product photography provides some assistance in this area - assistance text doesn't offer. From an SEO perspective, images further enhance a page's value in the search engines. As White points out, "Each image includes file names and alt-text that can be tailored to improve your page's organic search ranking by giving search indexers more information to pull from. Think of it as the cherry on top of all the other benefits images provide."
5 Tips for Better Product Photography
Product photography is clearly significant in the grand scheme of ecommerce, but the majority of businesses get it wrong. They either don't give enough attention to their visuals, or they invest in the wrong strategies. In order to help you avoid a similar fate, let's check out some of the tips and best practices for ecommerce product photography:
1. Ensure High Resolution
In the minds of your customers, image quality is directly correlated with product quality. If your images look poor, then people are going to assume that your products are also lacking in some key area. In terms of photography, "quality" can mean any number of things. However, resolution is one of the more important aspects in this equation. There's no place for grainy, distorted, or unclear images. Make sure you're using a quality camera and a professional image editing software to maintain the visual integrity of the images you shoot.
2. Prep Your Products
"While most, if not all, imperfections and extraneous details can be removed from your product in post production, that type of advanced editing is time-consuming and requires a fair amount of technical skill," explains Krysten Leighty of Pixelz, an on-demand photo retouching service. "Instead, remember to remove all tags, strings, and stickers from your product before you photograph it." Three or four minutes of prep work before taking an image can save you three or four hours of tweaking and optimization in the editing process. Take the time to diligently prepare even the tiniest details of a shot and avoid rushing the process.
3. Don't Delete Images on Camera
"When taking product photos, avoid deleting images directly on the camera," ecommerce entrepreneur Nicole Martins Ferreira advises. "Once you see images on your computer screen, which is much larger than your camera screen, you'll have a better understanding of which images look great and which don't. You might find on closer inspection that a picture you thought didn't look good actually looks great." Along this same line of thinking, be sure to take as many pictures as possible. It's much easier to delete images than it is to go back and retake an image.
4. Show Multiple Angles
Because people can't touch and feel a product online, you need to do everything within your power to help them feel like they're truly interacting with the product. One way you can do this is by showing multiple angles. Take a smartphone as an example. While a picture of the phone in the box might be considered good enough, most customers want to see more. A picture of the phone from the back shows the profile of the phone. A picture from the side allows shoppers to see where different buttons are located. A picture from the bottom up reveals information about speakers, headphone jacks, etc. The more angles, the better.
Shoppers also want to see the product in use - especially if it's something unique. Take an electric lawn mower as an example. While a shot of the lawn mower sitting in a garage is nice, most customers will want to see someone using it, charging it, removing the bag, etc. This helps them picture the product in use.
5. Optimize for Speed
"Images often account for most of the downloaded bytes on a page," Google points out. "As a result, optimizing images can often yield some of the largest byte savings and performance improvements: the fewer bytes the browser has to download, the less competition there is for the client's bandwidth and the faster the browser can download and render content on the screen." Before uploading images to your site, make sure you're optimizing them and accounting for how they're going to impact your website speed and performance. This sounds like a minor detail, but it can actually have a huge impact on conversion rates. (Just check out the data from this study.)
Take product Photography Seriously
It's easy to look at product photography as an afterthought - something you only spend time on once everything else has been taken care of. But the reality is that product photography can make or break your conversion rates. And if you aren't currently paying attention to it, now's the time to get back on track.