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An online seller’s guide to perfect product imagery

online-sellerAn online seller’s guide to perfect product imagery

A picture worth a thousand words

High street shopping is a tactile and visceral experience. We browse the shelves, handle the items we like and even try before we buy. None of this is possible when shopping online.

However, while it remains true that online shopping relies on factors like competitive pricing, good reviews, affordable (or free) postage, detailed product descriptions and the reliability of the seller, the way the product looks is often the key selling point.

Studies show that a staggering 92% of consumers base their online purchasing decision on the image accompanying a product before any other consideration.

So if your product doesn’t have a strong supporting image (or any image at all!) you are effectively failing nine out of ten buyers and holding back the key ingredient they look for when purchasing online.

This short guide explores some of the simple ways you can effectively market your products by showing, rather than telling.
 

Size does matter

High-resolution good, low-resolution bad. This much seems obvious, but just in case – the use of high-res imagery has been proven to increase revenue.

Studies also suggest buyers equate a low quality image with hidden product-quality issues. Present your customer with a bold view of the item they want to buy and not only will you display your product in a better light but you’ll also give the buyer confidence in you and your brand.
 

Do it yourself

Smart-phones offer broad access to picture qualities which were once the reserve of professional photographers. Moreover, filters have replaced the kind of post-production effects performed by wallet-denting software like Photoshop. In short, doing it yourself has never been easier (or cheaper).
 
  • Create a ‘mini-studio’ using large A1 or A2 white paper. Affix one side of the paper to a wall and the other to a flat surface to create a gently curving L-shape. This continuous white background will reduce shadows. Place your product dead-centre and ensure that the background fills the frame.
  • For some products a less conventional setting will offer more impact. Grass or stone can convey a sense of the outdoors, or action. Sand and metal evoke a sense of the urban and wood suggests rugged nature. Polished stone goes well with hi-tech gadgets and dark backdrops suit brightly coloured or fluorescent products.
  • Use strong lighting. If you don’t have access to the kind of studio lights a professional photographer might use, you can duplicate the effect by shooting outside and in bright sunlight. Alternatively use a few household lamps, taking care to position them in such a way that no one side of your product is left in shadow.
  • Use a tripod or fix your camera in some way to avoid blurring. If you don’t have access to a mount, simply rest your camera on a steady surface. The backrest of a chair, for example.
  • Keep your product as the focal point, with no additional items to distract or confuse your customer. The product should be centred within the frame and in sharp focus.
  • Use digital touch-ups to remove imperfections, smooth out the wrinkles and show your product in the best way possible. While you could use Photoshop for this task there are a variety of free services online which apply the same effects at the touch of a button.

Good product imagery conveys not only the quality of your product but the pride you have in the item you intend to sell, so take your time and get that perfect shot!
 

Enhance and enhance again

On the high-street we can get up and personal when we shop, but when we’re online there’s less opportunity to get a good look.

Offering a magnification option tells your customers you want them to look more closely and you understand their need to do so. As with high-resolution imagery, the zoom function highlights the trust you have in your product and proves you have nothing to hide.

Zoom will also reduce the time you’ll otherwise spend answering customer queries. If your picture is clear and provides multiple angles, all of which can be magnified, the buyer can check most aspects of the product for themselves.

When using zoom, ensure your image is perfect, clear of artefacts and imperfections. Be sure to use the exact model offered within the image and that the subject used is a flawless example.
 

Life in the third dimension

Images are flat but some images are flatter than others! 3D Photography is now more commonplace than ever before, with most modern digital cameras offering a panoramic option.

You can simulate a sense of three dimensions by simply offering multiple angles of your product and in this case the more the merrier. But if you really want to convey a truly 3D sense of your product, video remains the best option.

Video offers a whole new range of possibilities from a simple rotating view of the product as it rests motionless on a flat surface to an ‘unboxing’ shoot in which the product is removed gradually from its packaging with every aspect reviewed. Unboxing allows the viewer to vicariously experience the product as though they were holding it in their own hands and is a very effective way to engage buyer interest. However, static images are quicker and easier to view than video so always accompany video with a selection of stills.

If you opt for a review of your own product avoid hyperbole and the hard sell. Instead give a realistic but positive appraisal of your wares. Highlight the important aspects and show the product off to its best ability. Moving parts should be moved, controls explained and any unusual aspects shown to full effect.

Break your video down into scenes shot from close-up to mid-field so you can edit the sections together in post-production. Where you need to manipulate small parts, use a close view. When discussing the product generally, use a wide view. If you intend to use commentary, talk to your viewers in an informal but professional way, as you might do if you were showing the product to a prospective customer in a shop.
 

An audience on the move

Mobile phones are fast outpacing desktop sales, so it’s important to consider how your finished image or video will appear on a variety of devices.

Online sellers, like the clothes shop ASOS, sell more through mobile interactions than any other medium. They use high-quality images which allow magnification and a 360-degree view. Not only does this give the customer an accessible view of the product before they buy, it also highlights the sellers’ willingness to embrace cross-platform support for the sake of their customers.
 
Online marketplaces are rapidly overtaking the high street, with shoppers enjoying more ways than ever to explore products dynamically and on the medium of their choice. Nevertheless, the fundamentals of shopping remain largely unchanged. We still want to see before we spend and try before we buy.

Investing time in your product imagery can have a notable impact on sales – so get snapping!
 
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