Online shopping is great! It makes it possible for people to buy whatever they want whenever they want, by giving them access to an almost limitless marketplace. However, we all know that looking at eCommerce product images is not the same as being able to touch and feel the product in real life.
As an eCommerce store owner, to win the customer’s trust and convince them to make a purchase, you need to provide photos that are high-quality, compelling, realistic, illustrative, and eye-catching.
Furthermore, the goal here is not only for the customers to better imagine and understand the product, but for you to carry through your brand identity and style.
And it doesn’t end with that. When publishing images, you should strive for consistency in order to retain the professional look of your website, and keep up your optimization efforts to boost your online visibility and organic traffic.
All in all, product photos are one of the major challenges that digital shop owners have to face.
In this article, we provide an overview of the types of eCommerce product images that sell and how to use them, along with practical tips for improving your strategy.
Read on to learn more!
Why are good product images so important?
When a customer isn’t in a brick-and-mortar store, they have to rely completely on the imagery and descriptions on your site to make their buying decision. This makes high-quality product images crucial to the success of your business.
They give your shoppers a first impression
When a customer lands on your product page, you have just a few seconds to catch their attention. A MIT study found that the human brain is able to process images in just 13 milliseconds, giving your customers a first impression of the quality of your brand and your product with just a glance at your product image.
The quality and usefulness of those photos creates an instant and lasting impression.
Customers want to see product images
High-quality photos show people exactly what they’re getting when they buy something online. They provide proof of texture, shape, colours, and more. They also help shoppers get a sense of the size of the product, as well as different ways they might use it. Customers want to see images, and they want to see a variety of them.
In studies done by Shopify, only 0.52 percent of consumers want to see a single product photo, 33.16 percent prefer to see multiple photos, and about 60 percent prefer images that will enable them to have a 360º view of the product.
Meet the customers’ needs and provide a variety of helpful product photos so that they can make a more informed buying decision.
Quality product images generate more sales and fewer returns
In a survey by Weebly, 75% of respondents said that product images were “very influential” in whether they made a purchase. In that same survey, 22% of respondents said they returned items because they looked different in person than in the photo.
Humans are visual by nature. While things like product descriptions and technical specifications are important, images are what spark the initial interest in and desire for a product.
Additionally, if a person receives a product and it’s not like the photo, they’re almost certainly going to return it. A return means an unhappy customer, lost revenue from a sale, and additional costs for restocking.
Bad product images hinder conversions
You might think that any website imagery is better than none, but a bad image will only distract from the goal that both you and the customer share: to research the product and purchase.
Your images need to carry information and give the shopper clear differentiation between one product and another. Otherwise, they will be ignored or worse, the reason that a customer moves to a competitor site.
They boost SEO efforts
Adding an Alt tag and description to product images helps search engines understand exactly what each photo is. When someone searches for a type of product, like “brown trail running shoes”, Google looks at the Alt tag and description to determine whether to display your product image. The closer the match between your image and the search, the greater the odds of your image showing in the search results.
By using high-quality product photos, you can increase the amount of organic search traffic you receive to your product pages.
Types of eCommerce Product Images
There are different types of eCommerce product images that you can consider and, in this section, we will list the most relevant ones.
However, regardless of which ones you decide to opt for, make sure to maintain consistency. When a customer reviews a section of your store, the thumbnails they see should follow the same style and formatting. This way, your content will be more organized and more appealing. In addition, it will also be easier for the customer to discover what they need.
If, for some reason, you can’t provide the same set of photos for every item, make sure that at least the featured images are similar and follow a unified standard of quality and styling.
Now let’s have a look at the most popular product image types. When building your strategy, you can mix and match those, or opt for only one that best fits your needs and your budget.
1. Clean-cut Product Images on White Background
The most important type of product photos you need are the simple clean-cut images of the product on white background. These make the item really pop and allow the customer to review it without distractions.
Furthermore, if they are of high quality (as they should be), the person can zoom in on the parts that they find interesting to get a better look at the texture of the product, see details, and imagine it better.
When these types of images are well-made, they have a stylish and professional feel and make your eCommerce store look more reliable.
Note: Depending on the types of products, you can choose to use a black background. This will make your eCommerce products images stand out and may give them a more dramatic finish. However, black doesn’t work that well with all products, so make sure to do a few tests before deciding to paint it black.
2. Different Angles and Details
Aside from the main view of the item, it’s a good rule of thumb to provide a few shots from different angles that allow the customer a better understanding of the product.
You can also make detailed images that focus on important elements of the product.
For example, if it’s a sweater, you can shoot it up close to provide a macro view of the fabric’s texture. You can also add images of the care and maintenance label, tags, design elements, and any other notable details that may help the customer feel as if they’ve seen the product in real life.
The point is not only to allow the customer to better see the details, but to highlight the features you want them to notice.
An alternative you can consider here are 360-degree view images. They are a great way to show your customers how the product looks from all sides and you can create those for practically every kind of product.
3. Model Photos
Another great way to showcase your eCommerce products is to use model photos. This approach is best applied to wearables as it can demonstrate the fit of clothes, size of jewelery, hats, and accessories, and, overall, the general outlook of the product.
More often than not, similar to standard product images, model photos are made on a white background, or, on occasion, a black one, in order to reduce the distractions. However, if you find it appropriate, you can mix things up by using basic props such as a chair, a toy (if it’s children ware), an interesting detail, or something else relevant that will not confuse the customer as to why it is in the picture.
Also, make sure that the models are appropriately styled for the photos. For example, if you’re shooting a beach wear product, heavy makeup and official hair-dos may not fit the picture (unless you are trying to make a specific point, but then again, this should be made clear).
Furthermore, the models should be someone who your audience should easily identify with. To that end, they should fit your brand identity and your customer’s profile. This way people will find the product more compelling and will be able to imagine themselves using and/or wearing it.
4. Scale Images
One of the most difficult things to get right when buying a product online are its dimensions. It’s one thing to read how large the item is and completely another to put it into perspective.
Scale images allow the customer to imagine the product and place it in a real environment. This makes it easier for them to make the choice and more likely not be disappointed once they receive their order.
Scale images don’t need to be a boring grid with numbers or a mock-up human silhouette holding the product with an outline of the dimensions. They can be fun and original too:
However, make sure to provide realistic photos and don’t manipulate the size of the product. By cheating, you may be able to convince a few customers to buy the product, but the negative backlash will drive away the rest.
5. What’s-in-the-Box Photos
As the name suggests, these are photos that show the customer what they will see when they unbox their product. These usually don’t apply to clothing, as what you receive is a shirt, pants, hat, or whatever you’ve ordered.
However, when there are additional accessories, it’s nice to show them to the customer so he’s aware of the value they will obtain.
For example, when you are purchasing electronics, you may have wires, charger, and other relevant accessories. Or when you are buying glasses, they may come with a storage box, and cleaning wipe and liquid.
If you offer these, showing them to the customer may give you a competitive advantage to other sellers who only sell the basics and not the full package.
6. Lifestyle and Context Images
What makes lifestyle and context product images different from model photos is that while for model photos a person simply showcases the product, in lifestyle shootings, as the name suggests, you are selling a certain lifestyle. You can shoot on relevant locations, choose different sets, and recreate various situations that show the product in action.
The goal here is to inspire the customer to imagine themselves using the product, feel the lifestyle it represents, and want to enjoy the benefits.
Also, these types of eCommerce product images can give you more freedom to express and establish your brand identity and style, and build a connection with your audience.
7. Product Videos
While the focus of the article is on product images, we’d like to include videos as an honorary mention.
Adding videos to your product pages can significantly improve engagement and conversions. You can educate people on how to use the product, show it in action, feature behind the scenes of photoshoots, make unboxing videos, and/or feature user-generated content from your social channels (don’t forget to ask for consent).
All in all, videos can do the same as photos but with even better results.
How to Approach Creating Photos for Your Website
There are different ways to create product images for your eCommerce website. However, the rule still applies that you ought to stick to the same approach or combination of approaches in order to maintain consistency.
Work with a Professional Agency
Hiring a professional agency that can shoot and edit the product images for you is, easily, the best choice. The team can help you with ideas and advice and will have everything you need, such as know-how, expensive equipment, skills, a catalog of models, studio setups, locations, and whatnot.
Pros: Hassle-free experience. High quality. Everything’s taken care of for you.
Cons: Professional product image services are quite expensive, especially if you are on a budget.
The next best thing is to research and hire freelancers who will take care of the photoshoots for you. Depending on the skills of the person, you may need to hire a photographer, and retouch artist separately. One will do the shooting and the other – the editing. However, many freelancers can offer you a packet deal on both.
You can browse offers on platforms such as Fiverrr, Upwork, and Guru and choose a professional who provides the services you need, and matches your budget.
Pros: Not as expensive as working with an agency, and you can still count on high quality.
Cons: You may need to research and assemble a team of different professionals. You may also have to hire models, and/or rent equipment. Overall, this approach requires more organizational work and time.
DIY Product Photography
If you are on a tight budget and have enough time on your hands, you can consider doing the product images for your eCommerce store yourself.
With modern technology, and an abundance of free educational resources, DIY product photography is not as difficult to get the hang of.
Of course, it will require an initial investment, but if you do your research, this may not be as large as it seems. After all, nowadays every phone can make awesome photos, and you can purchase practically anything else you need on the internet for a competitive price. All you need to do is learn how to use the resources at your disposal wisely.
Sure, you probably won’t manage to achieve the same stellar results a professional would, but with practice and dedication you may become better than you expect.
Pros: Budget-friendly. Suitable for small businesses. It’s easy to rent equipment and even buy what you need at a bargain.
Cons: Requires quite a lot of time to master. The results may not be as high-quality as you wish.
Request Product Images from the Manufacturer
If you are a retailer that resells products by third-party suppliers, you can ask the manufacturer to provide you with their original product photos.
However, make sure that these are of high enough quality to meet your own standards.
Another risk that this approach poses is that if you are working with different manufacturers, it may be difficult to maintain consistency, as they may all use different styles, formatting, and overall approach.
Pros: Little to no investment. Easy to acquire.
Cons: The quality may not be good enough. You have no control over the type of photos you receive. Lack of consistency.
Use Mock-ups Generators
eCommerce stores that sell items with prints can easily solve the issue of product images by using mock-up product generators.
These require you to upload a product photo or use pre-generated ones that look close enough to your products and apply different colours and designs on them.
Modern product image generators such as Artboard Studio and Smartmockups even allow you to create whole design set ups, apply backgrounds, use stock images, and create lifestyle collages.
Pros: Easy to use. Affordable, most generators even have a free version. Provides a variety of options. Doesn’t require photography, design, and editing skills or experience
Cons: Limited options. Your designs are not completely unique and you risk ending up with closely similar images to competitors using the same type of software.
7 Short and Sweet Tips for eCommerce Images that Sell
Here’s a list of 7 short and sweet tips to help you up your eCommerce product images game:
- Maintain Consistency. We’ve said it a few times, we’ll say it again – consistency is what differentiates the professionals from the rest, and makes your website look more credible.
- Stay on Brand. To make an impact and attract the customer’s attention, your images should be in line with your brand’s image, style, and your audience’s preference.
- Keep the Quality Up. Quality images speak for themselves. On the other hand, grainy ones and stock photos paint you as untrustworthy and unprofessional.
- Size Your Images Properly. If your images are too large, they may compromise the loading speed of your website, and may lead to people leaving even before they’ve seen your content. Compress to impress.
- Optimize for Image Search. Image search is a great way to acquire new customers, and boost your sales. To make your images more visible, you should apply the proper SEO attributes, tags, and meta information.
- Share your Images on Social Media. If you’ve gone the extra mile to create awesome product images, make sure to share them on social media so more people can see them.
- Make Social Media Images Shoppable. Another benefit of social media is that you can make your images shoppable, by marking up your products on them and linking them to the proper page in your eCommerce store or social media product list.
As the old saying goes, an image is worth a thousand words. However, when it comes to product images for eCommerce stores, this asset can be a double-edged sword.
Great, stylish, and high-quality images showcase your product’s qualities, attract customers, and boost conversions.
Grainy, blurry, and badly-taken ones can ruin your whole eCommerce strategy and paint you as an untrustworthy and scam merchant.
There are many ways to up your product image game, all you have to do is take the time and consideration to find the one that suits you best.