A great website is nothing without great images
Beautifully aesthetic websites evoke trust and therefore increase sales. At least, that's what I read in "The Smarter Screen"; a book by Shlomo Benart that discusses the psychology of users when they browse a website.
The premise is pretty simple - if your website looks great, your customers will trust your company more and are therefore more likely to buy your products. It seems obvious, right?
It can be easy to overlook the importance of great images but great images are just as important as a well-developed website. You could have the cleanest code and the fastest e-commerce site, but if your photos don't pull your customers in, the rest is worthless. It's therefore evident that we should be paying more attention to site imagery.
Here are six ways that you can use images within e-commerce to gain customer trust, make your site look better and increase your sales in the process.
1. Get some professionally shot product photos
It can be tempting to take your own product photos using your iPhone, but product photos can make or break a sale. A professional photographer will create beautiful backdrops, will know how to compose the photos and has the lighting to make your products stand out.
Below are two photos of the same product. One has been taken from a phone using office lighting with the background removed. The other was taken professionally using a DLSR, light tent, numerous lights and a good amount of Photoshopping (to clone out bits of dust and smooth out rough edges on the chrome elements). It's obvious which one looks better.
It's also worth noting the composition of the product in the images. The professional image is perfectly composed to allow the product to fill the entire frame of a square image, which is perfect for most e-commerce stores where 1:1 images are standard. Compare that to the DIY photo that doesn't make use of all of the available space.
If you're selling electronics, computer generated 3D models can often be preferred to photography. These models can eliminate manufacturing imperfections, be easily modified and gives greater control over lighting sources and camera angles.
2. Save money by reworking manufacturer photos in Photoshop
If the products you're selling aren't created by you, there's a good chance that the companies that manufacture them have press images that you can freely use. These images are often quite consistent in style, with the product against a white background. They take this style of photo so that you can easily manipulate them into your own marketing material (white backgrounds are easy to remove).
We can modify these types of images to give the impression of fully custom photography. For example, see what we did with an alcohol retailer in the images below. We lifted official product photos from the manufacturer's sites and then Photoshopped a background into each image for branded consistency throughout the entire site.
As you can see, each image has a consistent layout and design with bottles that match in height, with subtle vignettes and faded pastel background colours that compliment the bottle contents. Below you can see the steps taken to achieve this.
3. Lifestyle and roomset photography
Lifestyle or roomset images are essential for your homepage and for use in your marketing material. These aren't standard product shots; they'll sometimes use models or feature your products in their intended surroundings.
These style of images can be expensive to shoot because thought needs to be put into the surroundings in which the product will feature in and props need to be purchased. This is why lifestyle and roomset images don't always make their way into the individual product pages. Instead, they're often reserved for home pages, social networks and marketing material.
Roomset photos allow your customers to envisage how the products will look in their home. With more common household objects in the frame, roomset shots also give your products scale. How tall is that floor lamp? How big is that TV? Will this sofa fit through the door? Lifestyle images can be especially important to showcase product features or align your product with a particular demographic. If your product is waterproof, photograph the product the rain. If you're selling a durable boot, shoot it on rough terrain.
4. Model and fashion photography
Using models in your photography is important in fashion and cosmetics, where product aesthetics are key. Similarly to how roomset photos customers to visualise how products will look in their home, model photography allows your customers to visualise how your products will look on their body.
An e-commerce client of ours recently worked with Andy Hoang, a Bristol fashion photographer. The photos he captured really showcased the products and complimented the site we designed, so I asked for his thoughts on the benefits of fashion and model photography.
"I believe high quality is essential when selling a product, be it handbags, sunglasses or even the less glamorous everyday tools. Showcasing a product worn by a model, for example, gives the viewer and potential buyer the confidence to make the purchase. It’s about building the relationship between the brand and customer, and the first base of this relationship, so to speak, is quality and enticing advertising imagery. Of course, you pay for quality."
5. 360-degree product photos
Give your customers a 360-degree view of your product. This is becoming more important for non-consumables such as footwear and electronics. Usually, 360-degree photos are created using at least 6 static photos, taken at the same height and angle with the product on a rotating surface. The more photos you take, the smoother the transition between turns.
Because this style consists of multiple photos, they can be quite expensive to shoot. It's therefore worth considering producing 360-degree shots for your key products as opposed to every item in your store.
6. Ensure you have photos for each product variation
Some items come in a variety of colours or designs. It's important that you have photos for each variation so that your customers don't have to guess what it looks like, at risk of being disappointed when it gets delivered.
See the product shots of the Galaxy S8 below. Sure, black is self-explanatory but "Orchid Grey" has a blue tint to it. That's especially surprising considering orchids are pink...
Don't skimp on great images, okay?
What do bad images say about your company? How do you want your brand to be perceived by your customers?
It's true that great product photos can be expensive but they're a necessary investment for any e-commerce store. If you're on a tight budget and you know how to use Photoshop, there's plenty of creative ways you can create consistent and attractive product images.
If you need help creating the perfect product images for your e-commerce website, get in touch with us. If we can't help you ourselves, we'll point you in the direction of someone that can.