Good Product Photography Can Optimize Conversions and Reduce Return Rate - Don’t Screw It Up!

Frederik Nielsen
Frederik Nielsen
Last updated on 
September 30, 2020
Good Product Photography Can Optimize Conversions and Reduce Return Rate - Don’t Screw It Up!

It is a good thing a picture is worth 1000 words because the average consumer attention span isn’t nearly long enough to read a full product description. Great product photography will not only increase your conversion rate but can also reduce painful customer support headaches post-purchase.  

How many online stores are out there? Do we even know the number? Not exactly, but consider this: At the moment there are between 12 and 24 million ecommerce stores out there.

2% is the standard conversion rate to get an order, but what if you’re under that? Or want to stop it from declining as you head into your busy season. The last thing you want is to lose all the customers you gained through SEO, Paid Ads, and Email Marketing because your product photos look like they were taken with a Blackberry.

75% of online shoppers mainly rely on product images when making a purchase, and there is no way the other 25% aren’t taking them into consideration 

So in this post, we’ll discuss the following topics: 

  • The importance of product photos
  • Tactical ways to use product photography to grow your business
  • Easy ways to ensure exceptional photos every time.

But enough with the introduction, let’s start... 

Why Great Photos Help Your Ecommerce Store

One photo with an all-white background doesn’t cut it anymore. Online shoppers prefer stores that have multiple product images. Less than 1% of consumers want to see a single product photo, 33% prefer to see multiple photos, and about 60% prefer to have a 360º view of the product. 

But more on that later.

We know some direct ways that product photos can increase your conversion rate and profitability, but what else can they do for your store? After all, product photography can get expensive fast so quality images have to come with at least a few perks.

1. Reduce Your Customer Support Load

Images showing how the product is used can reduce support tickets post-purchase. Questions like “How do I open this?” or “How do I install it?” can be prevented with a descriptive photo. Check out this floating bookshelf for instance. You need to tuck the bottom book, in a way that may not make sense out of the box. Avoid your team having to answer the same ticket from customers who don’t read the instructions.

Gorgias Tip: Review your most commonly asked product questions ahead of your next photoshoot. You can view this data in our advanced analytics section.

2. Images Help Reduce Pre-Sale Inquiries

As the Pandemic shifted consumer shopping behavior, more support agents were transitioning to virtual sales staff. Sometimes you need to see something in person to really get a feel for it, especially the size. Imagine thinking you were buying a chair for your home office, but it turns out it was actually for a dollhouse?

Review your pre-sale tickets to see what questions people are asking your team. Use that data to update your product images to feature things like product sizes. This will also help you reduce your return rate down the road. Artiplanto does a great job of this.

3. They Reinforce Your Brand

Your website design isn’t strictly there to satisfy search engines and ad networks. A well-developed visual style can help you stay in your consumers’ minds even long after they leave your store. 

Visual styling should be important to every store owner. If you’re an upmarket brand, you need professional photos. If you’re a dropshipper, don’t use the same supplier photos everyone else is using. 

A good visual identity will help customers - even the ones that shop regularly at competitor stores - remember you better.

You can get started by doing your own photography. It’s more cost-effective, and most importantly, quick.

If you’re going to do it in-house, you need to be creative and technically sound. That means you’ll have to learn the basics of good photography and understand web design. Here are a few product photography tips:

  • The customers need to be able to see everything, so size the pictures properly
  • All of the product images on your site need to have a uniform look and feel 
  • The resolution needs to be high and consistent across all product images
  • You don’t want large photos to slow down your site too much

4. Images Help Guide Customers

As we’ve already established, high-quality images can, in fact, help you turn random store visitors into loyal customers in seconds. They guide the visitors through the conversion process.

First off, you can use an image of an ordinary person to guide your customers’ eyes to the main conversion point. This can be a product image, form, or even a purchase button. See how the key text on the Beardbrand home page is in the direction Eric Bandholz is looking

Marketing professionals refer to this image as the “hero shot.” The image usually features an “average Joe” pointing or looking at a particular part of a web page, where the customers need to go in order to make a purchase. Pretty amazing, right?

Here’s Beardbrand’s customer support hero Sylvester acting as the hero in this image. It brings it to life much more than a standard product shot with a white background.

How to Create Great Product Photographs 

Can you keep your customers and Google both satisfied without having a professional photographer on your staff? Yes, of course, you can. Here’s what you need to do to SEO-friendly, social media ready, and most importantly, eye-catching pictures. 

1. Allow Customers to View Products Fully 

As we mentioned earlier, if you don’t own a physical store, there’s no real way for your customers to get a feel for your products. You don’t want people to return products on a daily basis, correct? Then you need to find a way to give them a full look at their next purchase.

You can do it in many ways:

  • Take multiple product shots from multiple angles
  • Allow your customers to zoom in on small details
  • Make sure that the product is properly lit and positioned

Your main objective is to give your customers a chance to see the product in its entirety. You can’t expect a single photo to convey everything your customers want to know.

The total number of photos you need will depend on what you’re selling. For a t-shirt three may be enough. One of the designs up close, one of the shirts on a hanger or flat lay, and one on a model. However, having a diverse set of models will help your conversion rate.

A high ticket item, like a dining room table set, will require photos that show the detail and color of the material in a variety of settings and up-close of the details.

When selling on Wayfair, they want you to include enough photos to know exactly what to expect when a customer receives your item.

2. Have 360 Product Images - Show the Full Product!

Here’s something that requires more than a static image and a plain white background. It requires some know-how and slick post-production work. To give shoppers a better view, you can also consider placing a 360-degree image of your products. 

This can boost your conversions by 27% in some cases. Just make sure to test these images before you start posting them on every product page. Creating custom 360-degree images is not easy nor cheap, you need to plan out things carefully. 

If you’re not familiar with artificial lighting, shutter speed, or depth of field, you’ll need to hire someone. You also can’t expect to finish all of your products in one photoshoot. Capture a few 360 images, post them on your site, and see how they perform. 

If this is too much work, you can also take several photos of the product from different angles.

3. Don’t Go Overboard With Filters 

It goes without saying that you can’t have good photos without a good DSLR and editing software. However, having an expensive camera doesn’t guarantee your product photos will turn out great. You need to have the right angles, lighting, and even filters.

The biggest mistake merchants make is going overboard with filters. Using too many filters will only make your product photos look less realistic. 

If you make your products look too different from how they look in real life, you run the risk of alienating your audience. Around 22% of people who regularly return products say that the main reason for doing so is the difference between product photos and the actual product.

Don’t overkill the HDR, like this person trying to sell a camper van (image via Reddit).

4. Know the Difference Between “Image Size” and “File Size”

If you find yourself confused by the technical aspects of running an ecommerce website, don’t sweat it, you’re not the only one. However, when it comes to product images, one thing you to know is the difference between “image size” and “file size.”

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Image size: Refers to image dimensions, like 1200 X 800 for example. 
  • File size: The amount of space needed to store the image on your server. 

The larger your file size is, the longer it takes the product image to load. You already know how load time is important, so try to keep your images around 2 MB. 

And yes, there’s a way to optimize the size of your images without compromising their quality. Below, you can watch short tutorial on how to resize images and save space:

5. Use Stock Photos Wisely

If you’re just starting out, stock photos can be fine for adding professionalism to your home page and collection pages but don’t use the same ones everyone else is using. Once you start to gain customers, offer a gift card for their next order if they send you a photo you can use.

Gorgias Tip: Set up a filter for this as replies to a marketing email. You can send a gift card as a product right from within Gorgias!

6. Create Explainer Videos for Products If Your Store is Different

Traditionally only had 8 seconds to grab attention, but with TikTok making a 10-minute YouTube feel like Lord of the Rings, let’s assume it’s even less.

If a picture is worth 1000 words, a video is worth even more - especially if you have a somewhat complicated product.

Revzilla does a great job using product videos to help motorcycle riders choose the right product. This can even help your SEO if you embed the videos on YouTube. 

Start Using Product Photos to Increase Conversion Rate by Reducing Your Bounce Rate

It takes a lot to get someone to come to your product display page, PDP. Regardless if you’re on Shopify, Amazon, BigCommerce, Magento, or any other platform. It may have even been a photo someone saw on a display ad, or from an influencer (or better yet a customer) that brought them to your PDP. You can’t afford them to be disappointed when they get there.

Unless you’re laundering money, you probably want to be as profitable as possible, and avoid flushing money down the drain with bad product photos.

You can’t expect to have steady cash flow without making sure that the people who visit your store make a purchase! The problem is, most ecommerce stores have huge bounce rates. That means most people don’t make it past the first page they land on.

Our friends over at Shogun did a great job breaking down the bounce rate by industry. As you can see, it gets pretty high. 

You need to catch your customers right away. One of the fastest ways to do this is to create an emotional reason for spending money on a certain item. Making a connection on an emotional level can be done through eye-catching product images.

Professional pictures need to show that your product will provide a fantastic user experience for the customers. Appealing to the consumers’ emotions will keep your engagement levels high and help you improve conversion rates as well. 

A case study conducted by the A/B testing giant VWO discovered that even a simple thing like changing the resolution of images can improve conversions. In fact, the store in question saw a 9% jump in sales over a period of a single month, simply by enlarging product images.

Professional doesn’t need to mean expensive. Make your photos consistent across your site in the style, lighting, positioning, etc. For extra consistency, you can even use CGI mock-ups.

To really connect with your customers at an emotional level though, show people your customers identify with using your products. The easiest way to do this is to ask for them.

Gorgias Tip: You can collect great User Generated Content (UGC) from Gorgias.
  • Create a rule in Gorgias to open a ticket asking for permission to use a photo when someone leaves a positive review,
  • Create a view of anyone you’ve identified as a great photographer and ask them for a photo
  • Run a giveaway on Facebook encouraging customers to post photos in the comments, and collect them through Gorgias.

Improve Images, Conversion Rate, and Customer Satisfaction!

High-quality images are better than old, low-res ones. The first will help you get more customers, others won’t

We’re sure that you got it by now, but just to recap, let’s go over the most important points:

  • Product images will persuade your customers to buy a product from your store
  • Images can also help you build a distinctive visual identity and differentiate yourself
  • If you really want to use the power of images you need to follow the best practices 

Remember, you're doing all of this to keep your customers satisfied. If anyone complains about a product image, you need to act quickly. 

Enter Gorgias. 

With the help of our helpdesk, you can see all customer inquiries and complaints in a single dashboard, and decrease problem resolution time by 68%.

Go now, sign up for Gorgias, get your 7-day trial, and solve all of your problems. 

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