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Nov 1, 2011
by Brad Tuckman
From large photographs that anchor your home page to small product shots on the site's pages, photography is a crucial element in the online success of a brand. Product photography not only tells the story of your brand, but it is what sells your products. So how do you create beautiful images that speak to your customers? Following are four best practices for using photography to boost your sales:
Pretty vs. Perfect. It is important to strike a balance between creating an image that looks good and editing to the point of being unrealistic. People want to see an image that is appealing to the eye, but they also want something that appears real. So, best practice number one is to create an image that is the best and most beautiful version of itself, because ultimately what is beautiful is what will sell. This is incredibly important when showcasing product photography on your ecommerce site, when the customer only has the images to rely on. It is the responsibility of photography to convey all the features of a product, to give customers an accurate look and feel.
Interactivity. A second best practice in retail photography is to incorporate interactive elements to the photo. While adding elements like video to your site can entice customers, interactive elements like 360 product rotations are what sell a product because they allow customers to experience an emotional connection with the product, and have more control over their online shopping experience. The more time you get your customer to spend interacting with a product online, the more likely they are to purchase it.
Soma Intimates is one example of how a retailer is effectively offering 360 product views. The retailer offers a variety of views of the product on a model, and select products on the site offer a 360 button where the customer can view the product from all angles, to get an accurate look at the fit of the undergarment. However, make sure that you also retain some control over how your products are viewed. For example, you can put limits on how much a customer can zoom in or enlarge a product. This allows you to still ensure a quality customer experience, while providing enhanced ways to view your products.
Don't Ignore Color. Color is extremely important in driving conversion, in several ways. First, the more accurate the color, the fewer returns. How many times have you fallen in love with an outfit online, only to be heartbroken when it arrives at your doorstep? The color you saw and bought didn't match what arrived at your doorstep, so back to the store it goes. Smart phones, tablets, PC's and TV all shift color a little, so perfecting it before you distribute is critical. The color never gets more accurate once it's deployed. Also, if the product itself is offered in multiple colors, make sure to offer every color on a model, and not just a swatch. Customers want to see all the colors offered for quick and easy comparisons, as well as the ability to click on individual colors for a full product image.
Finally, be aware of how lighting affects the color and overall look of the photo. For example, your brand might typically utilize white backgrounds. However, shooting a certain product on an all-white background might not work with the color and cheapen the look. So make sure to explore other options, such as a different background or softer lighting, to ensure that the final image presents the product in the most desirable manner possible.
Know your target customer. Photography, when used effectively, can tell a story that entices your target customer to purchase. Therefore, every aspect of a product photo, from size to styling to lighting, can affect a sale. Certain types of photography can appeal to a certain type of customer. Even if a photo is beautiful, if it stylistically does not appeal to your customer, your brand is not effectively using photography to drive conversion. Once you fully understand your customer base, you can create your photography according to their needs and wants.
For example, look at the differences in photography for Banana Republic's retail website versus that of Old Navy. Even though they are a part of the same brand, they showcase their products with photography in two very different ways. Both sites offer the ability to see the product in all available colors, individual swatches, and zoom capabilities. However Old Navy, where a typical women's dress runs $29-$45, does not feature their products on a model but instead displays them on a plain white background or mannequin. Banana Republic, on the other hand, has a higher price point of $79 to almost $300 for dresses, and makes use of colored backgrounds, softer lighting, models, and multiple product views. The higher price point justifies the need for more expensive interactive photography and models to showcase the product. Both retailers utilize some of the best practices we've mentioned, but the difference in photography styling shows the difference in each brand's target customer.
Customers will often visit a retailer's website before they ever visit the brick and mortar store, so it's important to effectively use photography to put the best image forward. Once your photography budget is determined, make sure you choose an agency that will be able to create your vision within the price point. Beautiful photography that uses all the ?best practices? can still be done on a budget. Retailers should be using imagery to entice customers, and when done correctly, it will increase customer time on site and boost sales.
Brad Tuckman founded KSC Kreate in 2001 with a unique creative vision, an energetic approach to business, and a customer-centric philosophy. Brad has helped KSC Kreate grow from a retail and catalogue photography business to a leading provider of visual content and software for the nation's top retailers and consumer products groups. Brad is a trained photographer with a degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology, with over 17 years experience as a business leader. To learn more about KSC Kreate, visit www.ksckreate.com.
Topic: Business Strategies
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