When advertising products on your ecommerce website, the presence (or absence) of quality photos that accurately portray your products is critical to making (or losing) a sale. After all, customers cannot touch, smell or try on your listed products; they can only read your descriptions and look at the included photos. If customers are unable to discern what exactly you are selling or how it might fit them or their needs, your competitors will probably make the sale.
Unfortunately, taking quality product photos is harder than it appears. How many times have you encountered poorly lit, grainy or out-of-focus product photos on online selling sites such as Craigslist or eBay? How many times have you gone to an ecommerce website and discovered generic or incorrect photos that did not correspond to the items being described? Such frustration can easily lead to website and shopping cart abandonment.
To combat many of the issues inherent in ecommerce product photography, try implementing the following seven tips when taking and posting your pictures. These tips will not only help you take better pictures, but they will better educate your consumers about what you are trying to sell. The more educated your consumers are, the more likely that they will purchase from you and remain loyal to your ecommerce site. Likewise, customers who know what they are buying are less likely to request returns and/or exchanges, helping you maintain your bottom line.
1. Take an actual picture of your product.
This may seem like an obvious tip; however, many merchants try to get away with using stock or related photos of the item and not the item itself. Some merchants will even “lift” photographs from other ecommerce websites without asking for that merchant’s permission. Obviously, the process of taking pictures of your entire inventory is tedious. Nevertheless, consumers are less likely to buy from your website if they feel that you didn’t even bother showing them exactly what they are spending their money on.
2. Identify what you are selling.
It is immensely frustrating when customers cannot figure out which and how many of each item you are selling. If you post a picture with more than one item on display, use an arrow or describe exactly what is for sale. If your item is being shown as part of a lot of similar or identical items, identify whether the entire lot or each individual piece is being offered.
3. Take professional photos.
Items that are poorly lit, out of focus, off center or blurred will not be of much use to either your customers or your bottom line. A tripod, image editing software and light tent should be part of your photographic arsenal in addition to a good digital camera. If certain items pose a photographic challenge for you, consider hiring a professional photographer. This is especially true when you have very small or fine items to photograph; for example, a coin requires that the camera’s macro lens or mode be set to a small aperture to capture all the detail in the coin’s depth of field. Without knowing how to set your camera to these specifications or obtain the correct lenses, your close-ups will be blurry and/or dark.
4. Show items “in action”.
Items such as clothing, jewelry and electronics are difficult to photograph on their own, requiring that they be worn, used or turned on. If you are selling clothes on your site, try to take pictures of the items being modeled by someone (or on a mannequin). Jewelry should be pictured while worn, and preferably from several body angles as well. Electronics such as cell phones, MP3 players and PDAs need to be turned on and even manipulated through several commands so that consumers understand their capabilities. In some cases, videos may even be employed for capturing the qualities of computers, exercise equipment or SLR cameras.
5. Don’t just show a picture of the box.
Items that are contained in packages should be
taken out and photographed as they truly are and not just how the packaging portrays them. This is especially true with food; in a photographic study conducted by the German website Pundo3000, many food products that were advertised a certain way on their packaging were discovered to look quite different in reality. Ideally, the advertising on packages should be truthful about what is contained inside and avoid enhancing the product.
6. Pictures should be cohesive.
If you are taking sets of photos over the course of several days, try to maintain the same background and light settings. Having different image styles of your products can create a look of incongruity on your website. It can also raise questions from customers about product quality and age. Try taking all of your product photos using designated settings and backgrounds. If shooting outdoors, control the level of light exposure by not shooting in direct sunlight and by softening incoming light with translucent umbrellas.
7. Post several product angles and depths.
Many products benefit from being shown from several different angles, as well as up close and far away. A woman’s dress, for example, should be portrayed from the front and back. Jewelry should be shown far away, up close, and from the side. Posting two or more photos per item can slow down your website’s upload time, so be sure to obtain additional bandwidth from your hosting plan if needed.