Product images. 📸  You already know they’re absolutely essential for your online store. But what can great photos really do for your products? And how do you make sure that your photos actually increase conversions? 

Shopper expectations are higher than ever — and that includes your product photography as well, especially as leading smartphone brands have placed professional-grade cameras in our pockets. (Although many of us lack the skills to take advantage of them.)

So do you have to hire a professional? Or can you get away with using manufacturer photos? (Spoiler alert: Only as a last resort.) If you go the do-it-yourself route, how do you make sure it’s not a DIYsaster?

In this article, we’re sharing all the best tips for getting stellar product images for your online store that enhance your brand and drive more sales. 

The scoop on product images

  • The goal of great ecommerce images
  • Follow these 4 core rules for product images that convert
  • Can I use product images from the manufacturer?
  • Should I hire a professional product photographer?
  • Should I take my own product photos?
  • Showcase real customers
  • The golden rule of product photography

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The goal of great ecommerce images

Obviously, the whole point of product images is to get people to purchase. But to make sure you get your product photography right, it helps to think about how product images help increase sales. Great product images do three things well:

  1. They inform — and set correct expectations. When you can’t physically handle the product before buying, pictures are the next best thing. Accurate, informative product images help set the right expectations for your customers. (After all, the last thing you want to get is a “not as expected” review.)
  2. They inspire confidence in your brand. Your product images signal the legitimacy and professionalism of your brand, as well as reinforcing your brand aesthetic. 
  3. They entice shoppers to purchase. Images can help make your product look more appealing and inspire interest and desire in your customers. 

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Follow these 4 core rules for product images that convert

It’s one thing to understand that the right product images definitely DO matter. But establishing a set process for sourcing, posting and optimizing stellar product images takes work. 

So how do you make sure the product images on your online store meet all of the right goals? 

1. Keep it consistent

The most important photos in your online store are your individual product shots. Why? Because they provide the clearest information about your product and showcase it without distractions. Most stores provide product shots on a seamless background with gentle natural light. 

Make sure that your principal product photos are consistent in look and feel, formatting, and size. Not only will this help your shop look more professional, it will make it much easier for shoppers to compare options side by side. 

Consistent does NOT have to mean boring

While marketplaces like Amazon often have requirements for the main photo (because they also prefer to keep a consistent visual appearance on their platform 😉 ), you have a bit more latitude when you operate your own store. 

So, if the thought of sparse product photos on a plain white background feels a little lackluster to you, there are plenty of ways to get creative with your styling… without taking the limelight away from your product. Check out these examples: 

2. Put your professional foot forward

People may not judge a book by its cover, but they will absolutely judge your online store by its pictures. As many as 90% of online shoppers are influenced by image quality. It’s a simple fact: The quality of your photos send a clear message to consumers about the quality of your products, as well as the legitimacy and professionalism of your business.

This means that underexposed, out-of-focus, messy-background images have zero place on your site — whether you’re running your business out of your garage or doing $1M+ in annual sales. 

Professional-quality photos are an absolute must (even if you’re taking them yourself). This encompasses look and feel, as well as the ability to zoom in on details without losing image quality. You may even want to use 3D images or video to enhance your image set. 

3. Satisfy shoppers’ curiosity

Quality isn’t the only thing that matters — quantity does too. Your customers want to see your product from different angles, they want to see real images of each available color variation, and they want to see standard product images alongside action or lifestyle shots. 

Top sellers on Amazon are typically using 5-8 images for their products. That’s just enough to provide shoppers with the information they need to feel confident without being overwhelming. 

4. Be true to your brand

Like the rest of your ecommerce website, your product photos are a reflection of your brand — from how you style your models and backdrops to how you edit your photos. Make sure you have a clear vision of your brand and that your product images reflect it!

Can I use product images from the manufacturer?

Maybe, but we certainly don’t recommend it. 

In most cases, manufacturers are not going to provide photos that are designed for consumers, and you probably won’t be able to achieve the critical characteristics for high-converting photos.

This is important for any online store, but if you’re selling on a marketplace like Amazon, manufacturer photos can be particularly risky because you just might end up using the same photo as other sellers. 😬  

Not the best look when you’re trying to build up your brand (plus you’ll probably lose sales to lower-priced sellers). 

If there’s just no way around it, make sure you get permission from the manufacturer or supplier before you take the photos from their catalog. You may even be able to edit the photos slightly to achieve a more consistent, on-brand look among your products.

A word about labels… 

If you’re selling a widely-available product under a private label, the best thing you can do is get product images with your logo on them (never default to the supplier’s logo!). This will set you apart from other marketplace sellers, help build your brand reputation, and provide a seamless experience for your customers.

Should I hire a professional product photographer?

If you don’t feel confident in your photography skills, it may be worth investing in a professional photographer to shoot your product images. Here’s how to make sure you (and they) get it right: 

  • Check out their past work. Are they experienced in product photography and do they have all the right equipment?
  • Create a list of all the product images you need. Consider different angles, grouped shots, etc.
  • Discuss your brand aesthetic with your photographer. 
  • Provide any image requirements set by your marketplace. 
  • Plan to do a separate session for lifestyle/product in-context shots if needed.
  • Make sure that you own the rights to all product photos.

Should I take my own product photos?

Even if you don’t consider yourself an expert photographer, you’d be surprised how easy it is to take high-quality photos with little to no professional equipment. While there are plenty of in-depth guides on how to take a great product photo step-by-step, here are our top tips to getting it right: 

  1. Use a good quality camera or one of the leading smartphones. 
  2. Use a consistent setup — it’s better to position your camera with a tripod and reposition or swap around your products than to move your camera around. 
  3. Use professional presets for easy, all-in-one photo editing. The Adobe Lightroom mobile app is free for Android and iOS devices, and there are many free and paid preset options available so you don’t have to worry about manual photography settings. Plus, applying the same preset to all of your photos can ensure you have a consistent look and feel for your brand. 
  1. Optimize your photos for page load speed. These days, we’ve come to accept lightning-fast load times — and people won’t care how great your photos are if they get tired of waiting for them to load. 

Showcase real customers 🤩

Sometimes the best product images are the ones you don’t create for yourself. While you should always make sure to have standardized product photos for your site, if you can support them with user-generated content, all the better! (Plus, you’ll generate some serious love with your adoring fans.)

The golden rule of product photography

When it really comes down to it, the best advice we can give is this: Sell unto others as you would have them sell unto you. 

Do you want to feel you can trust the businesses you buy from? So do your customers. 

Do you want to feel you’re getting a quality product for the price? So do your customers.

Do you care if you get the color/shape/size you expect? So do your customers. 

Great product photos are worth the investment — whether of time, effort, or money. And trust us, your customers will thank you! 

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