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How to Improve Your Shopify Using Image Optimiziation: 10 Efficient Ways

How to Improve Your Shopify Using Image Optimiziation: 10 Efficient Ways

How to upgrade your Shopify store without extra budget? Check our 10 ideas on how to do that just with image optimization.

Liz Kasian

Jan 20, 2020

What Is Image Optimization?

Have you personally ever bounced from a website, as it took too long to download? Who has the patience for it, right? No data is worth waiting for 5 seconds!

Yep, if a website takes as long as 5 seconds to download, the bounce rate could be as high as 38%, with 4 second download time resulting in almost a quarter of all users giving up and anything under 3 seconds only has 10% of the users bouncing.

Big ecommerce players like Amazon, share jaw-dropping estimates about the potential result of a 1-second delay in page speed: such a minor website speed slowdown would cost the company gargantuan $1,6 billion in annual sales.

Now, that we looked at crime and punishment, it is time to define image optimization.

Image optimization is a set of actions with image size management and SEO fields in an image file. That means image is web optimized when it has the smallest size + required quality level, and has relevant image title, alt text and image description for Google image recognition. Proper image optimization leads to faster page load, lower bounce rate, higher conversions and top Google poistions.

How Do Quality Photos Affect Your Sales & Conversions?

You never get a second chance to make a first impression

The attention span of an average internet user is literally estimated in seconds. If you failed to capture the user’s attention, off they go to your competitor.

Be it in social media, on your website's product page or a big ecommerce platform, like Shopify, Amazon or Alibaba. Product photography plays a role at every stage of a user’s journey: 

  • Awareness > Instagram ad > “What’s this gorgeous dress here?”
  • Consideration > Facebook business page > “Let me zoom into this detail shot – is this a hand-made button?”
  • Purchase > website product page > “OK, I do love Boho style, the price is right – so let me see: is it turquoise or cyan for me?”
  • Retention > email marketing > “What? special deal for members? Love the scarf too!”
  • Advocacy > message to a friend > “There, catch the link, darl! Hand-made boho garments at the price of the mass market! Just don’t buy the cyan Brazilian style boho dress”

At each of the phases of a conversion funnel, a potential customer can leave your website. The correlation between quality product photography and sales stats is abundant. From our decade-long experience in e-commerce, the investment into professionally made product images is considered by marketing professionals to be the most basic action with one of the highest returns across the spectrum.

What Camera Should Be Used To Take Product Photos For Shopify?

First off: ideally, you wouldn’t. 

Ideally, it would be product photography professionals who do your product shots. That’s easier, and let’s be honest - cheaper. You do not need to become a big spender and buy all the equipment, and photographers usually use one camera and a set of lenses for different product categories.

But if you are the thorough type, who needs to be in the know on all the nuance of the trade, AKA a control freak (sorry, just joking), then here is a small cheat-sheet table for you of the most popular devices used to create product pictures. 

 

Cheapest & Simplest 

Expensive, used by high-end studios

The best price/quality choice

Which device?

Put your attention on
those with 80+ points
for camera quality here  

Canon 5D Mark IV - the modern standard of the industry

($2,500 for body only)

Cameras with APS-C sensors, like Сanon EOS Rebel T7i

(600$ for body only)

Price

you own one anyway

$2500-$45000 (and even higher)

$600-$1500

Image Quality

medium

highest

good enough 

Size

small and compact, discreet

biggest and bulky, indiscreet

mid-sized, rather discreet

Special training

None required if you ever had Instagram account

About a year of training for decent skills

A few months of training at least to gain some skills

Good for

Lokal shop, that’s just starting 

Established brands with budgets 

Any studio/skilled freelance photographer


A very important thing to remember: the camera itself is not a cure from blurry shots. You need to help your camera “see” your products in a way you need it. That’s why lenses that you use are much more valuable than camera itself. 

For product shots you may need a special macro lens for small objects -  Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM - 700$. Or a decent standard telelens Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM - 1,600$. 

And of course, the lighting. For an image to look professional, you need to get studio lighting equipment and acquire some knowledge on how to use it right. Don’t gety us starting on that, it’s a whole other story.

How Many Photos Should I Take For Each Product On My Shopify Site?

We covered this topic in detail, so if you were to get an in-depth understanding of the issue, please check out our piece, where we tell exactly what types of images are best for each ecommerce product category. 

The rule of a thumb is that in order to provide a detailed understanding of your product and satiate the curiosity of a user, who got as far down the conversion funnel as the product page, a bare minimum of 4-5 photos of a product is a standard.

Online shoppers will expect to see a full-sized front image as a hero one complemented with 3-4 product shots at different angles, with props, models or other items from the collection.

Is It A Good Idea To Use A Video Of Products On The Shopify Ecommerce Store?

Absolutely so. Videos increase time on page, lower bounce rate, boost conversions, create a stronger emotional impact.

Whenever possible, do use a video of your product to tell a story, to incentivize purchase intent, to convince, to seal the deal.

Shopify Photos Requirements

For everyone who has ever wondered:

  • What size should my Shopify images be?
  • What shape or form product images are best for the Shopify ecommerce shop?
  • What file extensions are accepted by the Shopify platform?

The size requirements for Shopify photography:

  1. Images should be up to 4472 x 4472 pixels (file size should not exceed 20 MB).
  2. Square images of 2048 x 2048 pixels are recommended – this is high enough resolution for your products to look professionally.
  3. If the images are below 800 x 800 pixels, the zoom function will not work for such product photos.

Depending on the theme though, Shopify will adjust the size of the images based on the size of the web space allocated to an image and the device it is used for. So it is recommended that marketers load the highest resolution up to the limit specified above and let Shopify optimize the size.

Shape-wise, square images are the safest choice, that looks great irrespective of device, theme, etc. If your concept has to use any other shape, make sure to triple check what it looks like on all devices.

When it comes to the file format, that photos can be uploaded into Shopify, JPG, PNG, GIF, TIFF, BMP are all accepted, with JPG being the most common choice.

10 Ways To Optimize Your Shopify Photos

Looking for more specificity on how to optimize product images for Shopify? Check out best practices that Squreshot crystallized based on years of excellence in product photography. 

Choose the right file type

JPEG: If you are wondering what file format to use for your images for the Shopify store, in the majority of cases the safest bet is to go with JPEG. They provide the best compression without detriment to quality.

PNG: the next alternative:

  • if you don’t have the JPEG images, opt for the PNG-8, bot PNG-24.
  • if your website has some decorative images with little nuance or detail, where reduction of the quality is unlikely due to the absence of much detail – as PNG is the smallest of the file extensions.

GIF: animated, so they have the power to keep the attention of the user. But GIFs are heavy. Our recommendation is only to use GIFs for smaller formats in your web design, like thumbnails – never for big hero images.

Use image sitemaps

If you would like to have full control of how Google sees your product images, the most advanced thing to do would be to create a separate site map for your images. 

Some coding is involved and there is no simplified version to render it for rookies, so we will direct you to Google resources, which explains in detail what needs to be done.

Screenshot%202019-12-14%20at%2012.51.05.png
Image Tag definitions for image site map by Google 

Thumbnails optimization 

Thumbnails are dangerous due to how they are featured. They are usually featured at the bottom of the page. “People also viewed” kinda gallery. 

Great news for Shopify users: Shopify will optimize thumbnail images automatically!

Still, to avoid indexing of the thumbnails instead of the product images, make sure to keep the alt text different or even skip alt text for thumbnail altogether.

Is It A Good Idea To Use A Video Of Products On The Shopify Ecommerce Store?

Absolutely so. Videos increase time on page, lower bounce rate, boost conversions, create a stronger emotional impact.

Whenever possible, do use a video of your product to tell a story, to incentivize purchase intent, to convince, to seal the deal.

Shopify Photos Requirements

For everyone who has ever wondered:

  • What size should my Shopify images be?
  • What shape or form product images are best for the Shopify ecommerce shop?
  • What file extensions are accepted by the Shopify platform?

The size requirements for Shopify photography:

  1. Images should be up to 4472 x 4472 pixels (file size should not exceed 20 MB).
  2. Square images of 2048 x 2048 pixels recommended – this is high enough resolution for your products to look professional.
  3. If the images are below 800 x 800 pixels, the zoom function will not work for such product photos.

Treat your product photos as mini-ads

Product images are great for what they are: featuring your product. But adding a small accolade, an icon with features, a badge or just some informative text may elevate the image and its value for users, arming them with info or even providing a Call to Action.

Image Title, Text description, Alt Text, Caption optimization

Google is pretty advanced but not as advanced as to be able to translate pixels into text. Make sure you explain to Google what is what on your images. 

Out of the array of the text fields that can be attached to images across different platforms, the most important for SEO is the alt text, AKA alt tag.

This is used to read out the image to visually impaired people alongside being the one huge factor in image SEO optimization.

While working with text field for image optimization, please use the following tips:

  • Make sure your Image Title, Image description, and Atl Text are different.
  • Make sure to use keywords in your alt Text
  • Make sure to make them descriptive yet precise, don’t cram with keywords.

Product sets and bundles arrangement 

If your product is a set of smaller items – congrats, Creator, this is your chance to shine! Sets may look messy, funky, orderly, classy just based on the order you place the items in.

We are not saying, using a ruler is a good idea – or, no, we are. For a perfect neat look, do use a ruler. Use whatever it takes to speak to an audience in the most visually appealing way. A mess is hardly one of those things. Even if parents know the Lego set will be all over the place ultimately, causing physical pain to all those treading on it, they need to buy a Lego set, that's neatly aligned in a nice orderly manner.

Decrease image file size

There are several ways to reduce image size in Photoshop, never miss an opportunity to provide just enough info for a quality image. The heavier the photo, the fewer sales are the short version of the longer statement, which contains a succession of actions with speed loading time, bounce rate and many more in between. 

  • Choose the optimum, nit the maximum quality for the given purpose
  • Tick the “Optimized” checkbox 
  • Use “Save For Web” Photoshop command
  • Tick the “Convert to sRGB” checkbox 
  • Save to the most appropriate file size

Play with the background to best convey the message

White background shots are the classic ones, that dominate the product photography realm like Tyson dominated the boxing ring.

Professional studio backgrounds are certainly best, as they are designed to reflect and deflect the light for the best results and are durable.

But if stuck with the low budgets, there are plenty substitutes, that can work, like a roll of drawing paper, a white mat board or even a white foam board.

Once you have a couple of classic images of your product, experimenting with a colorful background is a great idea for social media distribution. Textured colorful fabrics go well in the back.

Use lighting to save time during the editing

If you were to do DIY product photography and we are to give you one tip only, it would be: go watch a few videos on Youtube on Lighting in product photography.

Not only proper light is the main factor behind: professionally-looking vs amateur-made argument, bad light can also create lots of extra work for photo editor.

If you are in ecommerce, this is a long-term activity and you definitely cannot afford to commission the work to a professional product photography company, investing in basic lighting equipment, like so, worth just under 100$ is a good idea.

Alternatively, use 2 table lamps with a flexible gooseneck on either side of the object as light sources.

Get feedback on your product photos – better event – do an A/B test

Getting it right with the hero image is a mission in its own right. You may be a marketing guru with years of experience, but if you have a chance to get anybody but yourself to make a decision – that is a preferable scenario.

Ask your friends, family, do a poll on a Facebook page. Use one of the Shopify split testing plugins to do the math for you. You may love an image dearly, but if it loses in the conversion game to a lamer photograph – so be it.

Where To Get Quality Product Photos For My Shopify Store?

Well, you can DIY them. If you can afford it. The results, that are doubtful, have a high likelihood of looking unprofessionally and convey a lame image of your brand.

You can also hire a studio and freelance photographer. This could be a good value-for-money for an initial photo session. The consistency of quality may leave space for improvement, but the equipment and professional studio should help avoid major photography flops.

If your ecommerce business is such that has the volume or consistent regular change of collections, doing a contract with a professional product photography company or a studio is the best bet. This way you are guaranteed consistency, save time on ordering due to a smooth routine and may even trigger wholesale pricing based on volume.

How to outsource your product photography?

If after reading this piece on how to optimize images for the Shopify store, you conclude to outsource your product photography needs, we get it. If your e-commerce is based in the USA, check out our Squareshot portfolio to appreciate the level of quality of the product photography and apply for a free trial shot here. It's just a few clicks. See what your product is capable of as seen through the lenses of our talented photography crew.

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