If your website is your shop window, make sure your customers have the best view.
I know, I can’t believe it. It’s crazy, how can it be?
It’s nearly Christmas.
Well for any business that sells products likely to see peak demand in the run up to the Festive Season, you’ll really be focused on Christmas. So you need to pay close attention. But actually anyone who relies on their website for selling products throughout the year also needs to listen up. So come in, the more the merrier.
Let me let you into a secret.
If you sell products on your website, they need to look good.
Imagine going into a shop, selling, for the sake of the argument, lovely gifts. First of all, instead of being able to see shelves full of the actual products, you are handed a miniature tiny version of the gift. ‘’But can’t I see a bigger one you say’’? ‘’I can’t see any detail on it or understand what size it’s going to be in real life’’. ‘’Sorry’’, says the Sales Assistant. ‘’You’re only allowed to look at our products really small, then guess what it’s going to look like in real life’’.
You then realise all the gifts are wrapped in a film that obscures the object inside. ‘’Excuse me’’, you say, ‘’please can you take off this film, I can’t see what material it’s made from, or what the colour is. It’s just all blurry’’. ‘’Sorry’’, says the sales assistant, ‘’you can only view our products slightly blurry, and you’ll have to gamble on the quality of the material and make do with the colour’’.
Sounds ridiculous this scenario, doesn’t it? But when it comes to products on websites, this really is not that unusual.
Getting serious for a minute, there are three excellent reasons why poor product photography is not good news;
Quite obviously, the whole point of displaying products on your website, is to sell them. To entice, excite and tempt the viewer into placing an order. But if a customer can’t see a product properly, one of these things may happen.
They may get frustrated, and just go back to the search engine, type in the product and find someone else who sells it instead.
They will just give up, discard their search and probably not return to the website.
Or, and this will bring us to the next point, they’ll take a gamble on the basis that if they don’t like it, they’ll just return it. And they are not even likely to take this chance, if you don’t have an easy and cost-free returns solution (very few companies do).
So what business likes dealing with a high number of returns? Surely no one. It will skew and complicate your sales figures, cause logistical headaches in administering exchanges and refunds and may involve time dealing with customer complaints if they are really unhappy.
3.Brand and Image
Unless you are in the most exclusive, unique and in-demand market of all time, the chances are your customers will be able to find the same or similar product elsewhere. But you want them to stay with you. If you sell online only, your website is your vehicle, your brand and your link with customers so it needs to be user friendly, attractive and impressive in order to convey quality and professionalism.
So now we’ve concluded that when it comes to selling goods online, photography is king, here’s some tips to get you started.
If you’re taking your own pictures, you’ll need a good quality camera, the pictures should be taken in either Raw or JPEG format. If shooting in jpg always shoot at the highest resolution which is 300dpi. You might then want to compress them to the right size i.e. 72dpi for your website before uploading them to avoid issues with quality. You may need to download a photo editor application to do this, for example Photoshop Elements.
2. Lighting & Background
Lighting is absolutely key. The look you want to create will dictate the lighting you use. The image needs to be exposed correctly. Whether you shoot high key (white background) or low key (black/grey background) low lighting, you’ll need studio lighting (light boxes) and depending on how many lights you use, a light meter and the correct white balance and grey card are also crucial. You may need to invest in a special set up kit from a specialist photography supplier.
3. Consider the item e.g. fabric
If your product is clothes or fabric, taking photography will be a real challenge to get it photographed well. You may have to adjust the fabric on the manikin and be a whiz with ironing and bulldog clips to make the item look good. Digital photography will often need to be tweaked as colours can be distorted, usually done in the retouching afterwards. A texture may be knitted, shiny or cotton, and you’ll need the right lighting in order for the potential customer to be able to tell. You may also need additional shots of close up aspects to show detail.
4.Take from different angles
Depending on the product, you may need to shoot from different angles, to show the side and back. For example with furniture, your customers may not be able to make a decision purely on the front only shot.
5.When to show in context
Depending on your product, you may need to show it in context e.g. it being used or worn, to show what it would look like. This approach can enhance the sales of a product (such as a happy child playing with a toy, or attractive woman wearing a dress). But the staging of a shoot will need great attention to balance the photography style with the detail and focus on the product you’re selling.
If you are using models, even friends and family, there are some important rules.
They’ll need good make up, hair and clothes that work in the lighting and flatter. They’ll need to be put at ease. And you’ll need to offer firm but clear instructions and exercise patience and constraint to not keep touching their hair, adjusting their clothes or repositioning them constantly – unless they are very comfortable with this. If you’re hiring a professional model you’ll need to work quickly and efficiently as it’s likely you’ll be paying by the day, and you’ll only get one chance to get it right.
7. Go on a course
With so many online businesses springing up, there are now courses in photography available for small businesses, so it may be worth looking into one near you. Good photography really is a skill and for the reasons listed above, highly detrimental to your sales if you don’t get it right. So if you’re serious about creating wonderful images yourself, investing in training is well worth it.
8.Use a commercial photographer
You may not have the time or the inclination to go on a course. You know that your photography skills aren’t top notch. You’re relying on a semi-ok camera, have never seen a light box let alone positioned one and don’t know your dpi from your elbow.
This really could be time to call in the professional. You’ll be very surprised how cost effective it is, and your increased in sales and reduced returns will soon cover it. No stress, freed up time, all the top equipment, handling of models and post production work at your disposal. Oh yes, and fabulous shots that sell.
You’ve spent who knows how much money, effort, creativity and talent creating your products. Don’t them down through poor photography.
Let the photography do them justice. Let the photography sell them. Let the photography do you proud.
For more information about my commercial product photography please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07767 776839.