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September 14, 2010

Picture This: Getting the Most Out of Product Shots on Your Website

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Amazon Web Services

Usually, when we are asking clients to send over product shots for their new web design, it’s a pretty straightforward request. Most businesses have lots of photos on hand, and so they e-mail their favorites and don’t think too much about it.

But, given that the photographs on your website can play such an important role in a customer’s decision whether to buy or to move on – as much as the layout and text itself – it makes sense to take a closer look at the best ways to use them.

Here are five ways to get the most out of the product shots on your website:

Sell with pictures. It goes without saying that if you can show a picture of what you sell, you should include quality photographs. Studies show that an overwhelming number of people think, learn, and even buy visually. In other words, they are more moved by photos and videos than they are by text or audio, so using pictures can dramatically improve sales right away.

Remember that higher production equals higher sales. It’s simple: the better your pictures, the more you are going to sell from your website. This principle holds true because the more of your products visitors can see, the more comfortable they are purchasing them. There’s also a more subtle effect. Customers perceive better looking websites and photos with higher quality; they assume that a business that has gone through the time and trouble of having their merchandise professionally photographed is likely to be more reliable – and they are usually right.

If you don’t have high-quality photos of your products available, then why not take advantage of the opportunity that a new website provides and have your design team either take new photographs, or refer you to someone who can? Compared to the investment of a new site or extensive redesign, the cost of updated product shots is pretty low… especially when you consider how much it can help your future online sales.

Dream in color. If the products offered on your website are available in different colors and sizes, then try to feature each of them. Although it makes sense to assume your customers can imagine what they want in a different hue, that’s no substitute for actually tempting them with it right before their very eyes. Don’t count on their mind’s eye – provide high-quality product shots for every color you have available.

As an added benefit, the more colors you show online, the greater your sales will be, and the fewer your returns. That’s because, when people don’t see a sample of their color provided, they are forced to make a guess as to exactly what kind of red, blue, or other color you are going to provide. Some of the time, that means they’ll skip buying altogether; on other occasions, it might mean they’ll purchase something they end up not wanting – which costs you money in customer service, restocking expenses, and other small cuts to the bottom line.

Get with the times. One thing you’ll definitely want to avoid is outdated pictures. If you no longer sell what’s being shown, or offer a different version, color, or variation, get a new picture as quickly as possible. At best, a photo that isn’t current can be an annoyance to customers and employees alike; at worst, it can put your business in violation of advertising laws, since it could paint an inaccurate picture of what customers are getting for their money.

Build your brand. If you’re going to do the hard work of finding and producing high quality photographs your website, then take the action step and make sure visitors know where they’re coming from. Unfortunately, piracy remains an enormous problem online, and the last thing you want is your competitors treating your product shots as their own. If what you sell is also offered on different websites, be sure to watermark your images or otherwise designate them in a way that leads people back to you. It might not stop people from trying to steal them altogether, but it is better than simply giving them away.

For all of the thought and planning that goes into different web layouts and platforms, getting the most out of product photographs is often an afterthought. Follow these tips, though, and you might begin to see how a small change in an area lots of marketers take for granted can lead to enormous results.

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