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The role of product photography in e-commerce marketing

The role of product photography in e-commerce marketing

Too vital to overlook, best paid 100% attention to. Leverage the importance of images.

Pylyp Sukhenko

Aug 25, 2021

The role of product photography in ecommerce marketing is as fundamental as the engine to a car. First of all, there is no eCom marketing without commercial images to start with, just as there is no car without an engine.

Secondly, if your engine is in so-so condition, despite the top-notch everything else – leather interior, shiny exterior, reliable brakes, and even well-oiled transmission – the driving is not going to get you far.

Just how much product photos impact conversion and sales?
Statistics confirm the importance of product imagery in online sales:

  • With $818 million in revenue in 2019, Etsy knows a thing or two about why photography is important. 90% of Etsy buyers confirmed, image quality influences them to buy, more so than cost, shipping, or reviews.
  • All marketers dream of finding a magic way to increase their conversion by a couple of percent each step of the funnel. A Czech retailer Mall.CZ managed to drive conversions on category and product pages by a massive 9.46% by just making their image larger.
  • A 360-degree product image helped increase conversions by a staggering 10-30% for Golfsmith online store in the UK.

With enough numbers to sustain the vital role of commercial imagery for online sales, let’s dive into the juicy details and tried tricks, so you can boost your brand awareness, drive your conversions, and reduce your return rates.

7 reasons successful e-tailers keep investing in professional photography services:

Long story short, the visual facet of the ecommerce business is a decisive factor at every stage of the conversion funnel: from the awareness stage, interest, consideration, intent, evaluation, purchasing through to loyalty formation.

Each. Step. Of the way. And yes, if you manage to push that stray visitor from one stage to another closer to BOFU depends on A LOT on how professional your e-commerce photography is. This is how [long story long version]

Conceive Brand image in the customer’s mind, mold and sustain it

When we think Ferrari, we think red and endless road curves. When we think Nike, we think of close up details.

These brands consistently use the same color pallet, angles, backgrounds, photography techniques, and other tricks to mold and sustain the brand image. 

The chances are, you will be able to guess a brand even without a logo in sight when it comes to brands who cared to use product images to form the brand's identity in the first place.

Attract new audiences by creating finger-stopping aesthetics

Yes, finger-stopping. You heard it here for the first time. You know how you scroll your social media newsfeed totally bored out of your mind, and then something catches your eye and you actually pay attention?

This is the finger-stopping effect that ecommerce product photography has. Especially hero shots with a creative twist.

Taking the customer from being blissfully unaware of your product to actually paying attention is a beginning of a long yet rewarding path.

Power of persuasion: convert the onlooker into a buyer

Let me tell you a story: a post came up on Facebook with such an amazing description of the T-shirt, how well it fits people with my body type, how great and straight the seams are, how befitting color is for people with my complexion, that I bought it right there.

Sounds legit? Nah. It’s a lie from “A post” till “right there”. Nobody ever bought anything on Facebook based on text or description – even if it were written by J. K. Rowling. Texts can certainly add to the purchasing intent. But no purchasing intent came from means other than visuals.

Get ahead of the competition

Pretty much everything has been invented in this world. Specifically, in ecommerce. There are a few ways how you can beat your competition:

  1. Provide a better product
  2. Provide a cheaper product
  3. Provide a product faster
  4. Provide a better service

In e-commerce though, there’s another secret weapon:

  1. Provide a better online shopping experience [yes, we remember, that images are on top of this multi-layered pyramid].

Now, you can hack a system with a tool so obvious and straightforward as a camera. Voila. You can beat your competition with a camera after all. Pretty satisfying, isn’t it?

Signal Google you are damn serious: Your X factor in the SEO battle

Google takes care of the user first and foremost. They know which way their bread is buttered. A happy user means a lot of advertising revenue.
This is the reason why Google wants you to upload:

  • Fresh unique visual content [stock photography popularity is so over – it would be boring if the same smiley faces would look from all advertising boards, right?]
  • Content with proper Alt text [initially designed to help visually impaired people navigate the net, this feature now helps Google to rank visual content too]
  • Content in certain dimension & resolution [Google knows it all about mobile-responsive design and want a user to look at hi-res images at all times on all screens]
  • Engaging and eye-catching pictures [Google knows a screen of a user is the most expensive and crowded digital property in the world, so its smart algorithms know down to millisecond how engaging your images are – remember the finger-stopping power of an image?]

Sharing is caring or the tale about the power of a viral image

Even though memes are probably the most shareable content publicly [and there’s no beating the memes], many of the ecommerce images are shared in direct messages or groups.

Say, a friend sending a Facebook ad to a friend: “This is the pajama I saw the other day on the high street I mentioned I so badly want”.  Or a grandchild sending grand-parents a few shots from Google search, outlining exactly what type of a monowheel she wants for her upcoming birthday. 

Or a teen sending a product image of a pair of jeans from his feed to a group of peers with the caption: “Just shut up and take my money”.
The images as cool as to be sharable are the dream come true for any digital marketer and online store owner.

Lower your return rates

Return rates are a curse of ecommerce. It's a catch 22 with so many contradictory factors that you need to find a balance between. You have to offer a free return to be competitive, yet you risk wasting all your hard-earned money on returns. 49% of retailers offer free returns, so if you don't – you risk losing your customer at the screening check. Moreover, 92% of buyers say they'll buy something else if the return was hassle-free.

Yet, one of the big reasons for return sited is “product received looks different”. 22% mention the product image and the product itself are 2 different things. There you have it. You can lower your return rates by making sure your product photos are true to life and descriptive enough.

Fundamental tips on how to leverage the importance of the product images for your online store's success

Keep it minimal or go fully-fledged wild 

Product photography for marketing campaigns is best sleek and minimalistic or crazy and eye-catching. Minimalistic images can still have some artistic interpretation to them using background, scarce but carefully selected props, or even lighting.

If your product allows for boisterous colors or a bit of a challenge to the norm – going wild can only be recommended. Combine the seemingly un-combinable. Go with bold colors, conflicting props, and angles. Dare the mundane accustomed order and be rewarded by higher engagement and even virality with any luck.

Showcase alternative views of the product to grab the attention by the horns

Angles matter. Prospective is capable of bringing in dimension to the flattest idea. Solo images and group photos alike may benefit from angled positioning specifically when combined with effects from different lens types. If your product allows it, think if you could use a fishing line to make the product levitate for a hero shot or category page shot? 

Lighting, props, and backgrounds are your best friends

Product photography for ecommerce is somewhat restrictive in terms of marketplaces requirements. But then comes the hero shot with plenty of space for artistic interpretation and lifestyle photography. Commercial images for marketing campaigns are also the creative kind and an absolute favorite by art-minded pros.

This is when a combination of textured backgrounds [rusty metal sheet or pink fur], specially-created shadows [think palm tree leaf or window blinds effect], and parable props can entice the onlooker and convert into a buyer.

Squareshot product photography studio appreciates the value of imagery 

Why are photos important? They can help you sell stuff. As straightforward as this.We have produced high-quality commercial images for over 1000 fast-growing brands, and we can help your brand expand too. Check out our extensive portfolio before you leverage the role of a perfect shot. 


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