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7 Benefits of Retouching in E-commerce Photography: How Post Production Drives Your Sales
The guide through the world of photo retouching intricacies and key benefits of professional processing.
Apr 20, 2021
Retouching product photos for E-commerce sites may seem like a minor omittable step, but it has endless benefits – visible to the eye as well as visible on your sales report dashboard only.
If you own an online store, manage it as a digital marketer or make your living by shooting items for ecommerce – this 5-minute read is guaranteed to bring a fresh perspective as to why you should pay more attention to the post-production stage.
Retouching is actually one of the most tedious parts of the cycle of commercial photography, as well as one of the most impactful stages of the process in terms of sales. Furthermore, post-production image manipulations are fairly expensive too.
Let’s define retouching and see how it’s different from editing.
Retouching is a post-production process of alteration of the raw image file with the purpose of introducing changes to the shapes, shades, colors, size, of the items in pictures, resulting in physical alterations of the initial visual objects. Such post-production manipulation is mostly performed by Adobe Photoshop or similar technology.
Removing blemishes and spots, adjusting fly hair, liquifying rough edges, smoothing the skin of a model are all examples of retouching.
Image editing is a simpler process, that involves some tweaking of the saturation, color, or resizing of the image. It doesn't introduce physical changes to the objects in the photograph.
There are endless benefits of uploading meticulously retouched photos to your online store, but let’s start with the most basic one – and fundamental for the conversion of the online store:
Indeed, people are used to sleek websites and glamorous celebrities looking at them from ecommerce sites and Instagram pages – they don't feel at ease when they see something imperfect. We have all been spoilt by the abundance of the hi-res images flooding the net. Long gone are the times, when low res distorted images of the 90s on the screen were considered as hi-tech.
Consumers’ standards are high, as most websites employ top digital experts to create a picture-perfect world that users are happy to pay to belong to.
People are inherently brought to the phase, where their tastes as per visual objects have been elevated, unbeknownst to them.
So when they see an imperfect image or website, they flee the crime scene.
There are so many beautiful things to look at, why stare at something low-res, distorted, creased, or overexposed.
When time on page is high, Google knows your content is loved by your clients, so it aims to show it to more people.
Professionally retouched commercial photography allows potential customers to investigate every inch of the product, appreciate the texture, colors, fine details.
Viewers can zoom in and scrutinize the details they care for. So, basically, users spend more time on the page, signaling you have a nice ecommerce store and pushing your search rankings up.
We have all been there as users. We scroll Instagram feed and the finger freezes, as the eye catches a neat image of a product.
With the relatively new Google shopping ads, pictures literally sell – as all a customer sees is a few words of product title and description, a price, and an image.
Guess which ad gets clicked best? The one with the best picture and reasonable price.
Customers are more likely to buy from a professional than from a crook.
This is why all crooks dress as high-flying pros.
They know they should look perfect, so the potential client believes the inside is as sleek and spotless as the outside.
By retouching the images to have the same color background, liquifying edges where needed, and cropping so that borders are similar throughout the shop, you lullaby a customer into thinking you are trustworthy and professional.
Consistency and polished looks mean brand credibility. So having professional product images on your website is as important as having a secure payment system, when it comes to building trust towards your store.
Return rates have killed a lot of smaller ecommerce stores. 30% of all products purchased online get returned – which is more than 3 times as high as 8.89% return rates in offline stores.
Mind you, the terms and conditions of return are a vital factor for an initial purchasing decision, as 79% of shoppers want free return shipping.
22% of the surveyed users cite the reason for returning the purchase as “product received looks different”.
This confirms that retouching of the product photography shot for ecommerce should be minimal and true-to-life.
As the cumulative effect from all of the above benefits, E-commerce photography retouching ultimately helps drive store conversions.
If clients have a chance to scroll through a series of well-made hi-res images of the product, neatly lined up in a carousel, zoom in on fine details and check out the lifestyle shots – they are more likely to imagine that product as part of their life and purchase it.
Product photo editing used to enable commercial sales has long trespassed the frames of the stores as such. With so many new features in Business Manager of Facebook and Instagram – many merchants end up selling across social media exclusively, never even bothering to set up a website.
This is where the quality of images is probably even more vital than on product pages of the website. This territory is dominated by entertaining highly engaging content, so ads and product shots must live up to those high expectations.
50 million small businesses on Facebook can’t all be wrong, right? If you are still doubtful, almost half [49%] of users 18-29 y.o. confirmed, they purchased something after seeing it on a social media ad.
Ecommerce photo retouching and editing fulfill many functions to deliver the visual appeal of the products to potential customers across different channels.
If you are selling via Amazon, eBay, your own online shop, Pinterest, Facebook, or TikTok – you may need different formats of images. Not only will they need to be different in terms of size allowed and the format, but they also need to match the feel of the chosen channel.
This is why professional photo studios that specialize in commercial photography pay a lot of attention to creating the resulting image, that's a perfect match for the chosen channel and audience.
The post-production phase can be and should be minimal if the shoot itself is well-prepared and the background, lights, reflectors, items are positioned optimally.
Nonetheless, even the best of pros in the trade need to introduce some changes to the result to perfect it and make it the killer selling a vehicle that it is inherently.
These are the most common manipulations performed in the process of product photography retouching:
Behemoth marketplaces of ecommerce usually require a picture of the sold object to have a white background. Not only does this trick make the anyway visually overcrowded marketplace simpler to perceive, but it also brings focus to the object itself.
Sharpening the object will grant more emphasis to it visually. Used selectively on some specific parts of the item or product, it may help direct customer’s attention to a certain detail.
Bags and clothing may end up having somewhat rough edges on the raw shots. Cleaning them up makes the image a neater and more commercial look.
Somewhat underexposed or overexposed images can be adjusted during post-production editing. Mind you, that this is not a panacea for all cases, some of the mistakes are too critical to be corrected, so it’s vital to manage the lighting correctly during the shoot.
Even though there's been quite a bit of shift toward body positivity recently, some minor tweaking of the looks of a model is still a service a client wants to see delivered.
Be it teeth whitening or blemish removal – they all help produce a more appealing lifestyle product photo.
Resizing, cropping, and saving images in the formats recommended by different channels is a mundane but imperative step for higher sales.
Some platforms, like Shopify, need the highest resolution and will resize images accordingly. In other ecommerce marketplace merchants have to upload images with exact sizes for specific placements.
Even within one channel, you will have different sizes advised – for example, images for stories placement will differ from images for timelines placement.
Feeling like delivering a message with a catchy slogan? Need to have technical specifications designed on your product item? Such textual inserts help to provide the user with the crucial piece of data at a glance, which also may help drive conversion up.
Product photo retouching is no rocket science, but it's a set of skills one masters for years. While simple image editing or resizing is fairly basic, producing web-ready visual content consistently for different channels requires mastery and experience.
Squareshot photo studio has been delivering impeccable results for more than a decade for over 50 clients, who sell on Amazon, eBay, Shopify, Facebook as well as in their own online stores.
Our subscription plans start at just $9 per month, which makes it an affordable way to boost your ecommerce sales with high quality product imagery. Give Squareshot a try!
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