5 Things Your Product Images Should Have to Maximize Sales

10 Min. Read

The right product photography can be everything when selling online. A repeatable, consistent style for your product images is intrinsic to building a brand and brand personality, and is essential.

When people look at your product pages, they want to see proof of value and quality. Great images can help you showcase the quality of your product as well as create transparency and trust with your prospective customers.  In addition, how your images display together on category pages is an important consideration.

The better your product images, the stronger the impression you will make, making it more likely that they will continue to browse your page – and eventually convert to paying customers.

If you’re looking for ways to help you boost your eCommerce store’s bottom line, then read on to discover what your product images should have in order to help you engage, convert, maximize sales, and eventually achieve product excellence.

But first…

Product Images the Right Way

Hiring a Photographer or Going it Alone?

You must decide whether you want to hire a photographer to create your product images or if you want to do it yourself.

Let’s take a quick look at each option so you can make a better-informed decision as to what’s best for your business.

Option #1: Professional Product Photography

Professional Product Photography - Image Source

If you have the budget for it, investing in a professional photographer or agency to take all your product images is a great idea. 

Rather than trying to come up with a smart product image strategy by yourself, you can simply hire someone who is experienced and skilled at this type of photography.

One of the major benefits of hiring a professional is that it ensures that you will get high-quality, optimized product images that will set you apart from the competition and bring you great results for your marketing campaigns.

If you have the budget for it, here are some tips on what to look for in a photographer:

  • Make sure they are skilled in product photography
  • Make sure they understand the goals you have for your brand visuals
  • Check their professional references to confirm they’re experts

You can check out their previous work on their blog, social media, and portfolios to ensure that you choose the right person for the job.

Keep in mind that oftentimes when you hire a photography company it becomes a variable expense within your business and you’ll need to manage it accordingly.

Option #2: DIY Product Photography

product picture
DIY Product Photographyage Source

Images of your products (both by themselves and in use) are among the most effective merchandising and marketing tools at your disposal.

Since consumers can see or touch your product in person, you need to convince them using your product photography.

That’s why great product images are crucial for the success of your online brand.

But, if you can’t hire a professional photographer, it’s not the end of the world.

The fact is, you don’t need a huge budget to create polished and professional images of your products.

Just follow the steps listed below to learn how to take photos like a pro and you’ll still be able to get great product images that drive sales.

1. Get the Right Type of Equipment

If you’re going it alone, here’s the type of equipment you’re going to need:

  • A camera or your smartphone
  • A shooting table or light tent
  • Studio light or ample natural light
  • A tripod (unless you have very steady hands)

With these tools, you will be able to master product photography on a tight budget.

Let’s take a closer look at each.

Camera or Smartphone

If you are on a super tight budget, a smartphone will work just fine. However, if you can, try to get a high-quality camera, such as a DSLR camera, as these tend to help improve the overall look and feel of your product images and will allow you to shoot in a high enough resolution.

Shooting Table or Light Tent

Setting up the background for your product shoot is important and it can simplify the whole editing process.

You can either use a light tent, which is a box-shaped device with translucent walls. Its purpose is to distribute the light evenly around the item you’re shooting.

Or, to cut down on costs, you can use a simple chair in your home or office as a shooting table.

You also need a white backdrop that is easily removable when retouching images. For this, you can use a chair-mounted sweep.

All you need is a roll of craft paper that will reflect the light onto your product to improve image quality.

DIY photo table
Shooting Table - Image Source

Lighting

Lighting is the main determining factor in the quality of your images. Good light is the key to great product photos. So, make sure that your light sources are on point so you can produce beautiful results.

With regard to lighting, you have two options:

  • Natural Light: Great to use if you’ve set up a chair mounted sweep
  • Studio Light: Ideal to use if you have the budget or if you’ve created a lightbox

Tripod

A tripod helps to eliminate camera shake, which improves the overall quality of your product photos. It’s a simple tool that brings consistency, focus, and stability to your shoot. If your budget doesn’t allow for a tripod, you can simply use a stool or a pile of books to help keep your camera fixed.

Now that you have everything you need to take great photos, let’s move on to the next step.

2. Create Your Raw Images the Right Way

You need to be able to shoot your raw product photos in a way that represents your products in enough detail and in the best light.

Furthermore, the way you should your images should minimize the amount of post-production work that has to be done.

Fixing images can take up a lot of your time (and money), so it’s best to spend more time making sure that you shoot your images as close to the desired end state as possible.

eCommerce product photography generally falls into two main categories that you can use across your marketing channels and on your product page.

These are:

Product-Only Images

These are clean-cut images of your product on a white background and should include your featured product, as well as a variety of images that showcase the product from multiple angles.

These types of images should describe your product at a glance and are perfect for your product page. When done right, they serve to nurture your page visitors and nudge them toward making a purchase.

Below is an example of a product-only image.

product display
Product Only Image - Image Source

InContext/Lifestyle Photos

These types of images show your product as it is meant to be used, or alongside other complementing products.

Lifestyle shots tell a story and they are best suited for blog posts, social media, emails, and various other marketing channels that are at the top of your conversion funnel.

For the most part, you need about a dozen images on your product page, most of them product-only shots, as these are the highest-converting.

You can then mix in a couple of in-context snaps to boost emotional engagement on your product page.

Regardless of the type of images you’re creating, it’s likely you’ll have thousands of them if you have a lot of products.  To combat this, it’s highly recommended that you use a software to manage your photos to keep them organized and readily available.

Below is an example of a lifestyle photo.

Lifestyle photos
Lifestyle Photos - Image Source

3. Show Detail and the Full Product Range

As previously mentioned, you need to provide your viewers with all the necessary viewing angles.

But, even more than that, you need to ensure that your product images have all the details prospects need in order to make an informed decision whether or not to buy your product.

To ensure that your images carry enough detail, you need to shoot in a high enough resolution that will allow you to show close-ups of the product.

This is particularly important for items like clothing and jewelry that people expect to be able to see clearly up close.

This means you will have to provide the option of zooming in on the product details.

Additionally, some people aren’t very good at visualizing, so rather than leave things to people’s imagination, if you offer different styles, sizes, or colors of a product, shoot a range of sizes, colors, and styles with your products so people can see exactly what to expect.

Pro Tip: When you’re taking your product photos, make sure people can see everything that you’ve mentioned in your key product feature or tag line. For instance, if you mention “silver studs on the back of a shoe”, make sure your customers can see them.

4. Use the Best Post-Production Techniques

Product Imagery - Image Source

Retouching your photos after the shoot is crucial to achieving a professional, polished look. There are a ton of easy editing programs that exist out there, and you can choose the best editing tool for you depending on your needs.

Here are a few popular options for photographers on a budget:

  • Canva: A free and user-friendly online editor ideal for marketing materials.
  • Snapseed: A free, powerful, fully-featured mobile app.
  • Pixlr: A free tool with a lot of Photoshop functionality.
  • Fotor: A free, easy-to-use smartphone editing app.

These are just a few of the many free image editing tools available online.

Any one of these will serve you well in helping you get rid of a multitude of flaws in your images, especially if your background and lighting weren’t on point.

Here are some post-production techniques to help you get the most out of your product images:

  • Pay special attention to color correction
  • Use presets to make your photo editing more efficient
  • Use shadows to enhance your images and add a professional edge
  • Sharpen images and remove unnecessary elements
  • Don’t over-edit your images

Remember, consistency is key in everything you do.

Maintain high quality, but also maintain consistency in everything, including your image background, lighting, modeling, look, feel, size, formats, etc.

Despite every product image being different, observing the basics of branding and consistency in this way will help portray your brand to customers as being professional, safe, and trustworthy.

5. Optimize Your Product Images

Image optimization is the final step in our list of things your product images should have to maximize sales.

It will help you ensure that you don’t reduce your page loading speed so you can maintain or improve your SEO (search engine optimization).

The majority of eCommerce platforms and marketplaces have their own sets of photo editing requirements, so find out what yours are.

But, there are a few best practices that will serve you well regardless of the platform you’re using.

First and foremost, leverage your Google Analytics and Shopify Analytics data. Combine these two sources of data for a holistic overview.  This is only possible on the fly with Conversific.  It provides a wealth of information about what your customers want, – what they are buying and it enables the segment customers accordingly.

For example, see what products they are buying together. This enables store owners to have an image style for specific items that sell well together, categorize them and generate a category specific template that works with a specific image style template.

There are many other things that can be classed as best practice.

I’ve listed some of them below:

  • Maintain a Consistent Image Size: On your photo editing tool, create a product image template using a blank file that is resized to the required dimensions. This will ensure that you maintain a consistent size for all your product photos.

You can optimize your images and shave off unnecessary kilobytes using Photoshop or any other free minifying tools online.

  • Reduce Page Load Times: Every second counts on your product page, and a slow loading page can hurt your conversion rate. That’s why you need to reduce the image file sizes (Ideally under 70 kb) to keep your page load times to a minimum.
  • Choose the Right File Types: You will likely be working with either PNGs, JPEGs, or GIFs. For the most part, JPEGs will be your main focus since they are standard internet image files that support higher-quality at much smaller file sizes.
  • Name Your Images Correctly: Instead of using the names assigned by your camera (e.g DCMIMAGE10585.jpg), rather take the time to name your product images more descriptively and use the right alt tags (the image descriptions that customers see whenever they mouse over your product image).
  • AB test your images with a CRO tool like OptiMonk.

Include as many keywords and relevant metadata as you can. This will also help boost your SEO efforts since images also show up in Google searches, and in the SEO software market, you have to take advantage of every little opportunity to help your page rank higher and stand out.

  • Meet Thumbnail Requirements: The majority of eCommerce websites employ thumbnails as a way to provide customers with a quick visual reference for the product. However, this can impact your page load times, so make sure your thumbnails are also optimized so they don’t hold up your product pages from loading.

Conclusion

Your product images can enhance the appearance of your online store and serve as an important marketing and sales tool.

Use the information in this article to help you create high-quality, professional product images that will set you apart from competitors and drive sales to your eCommerce site.

Over to you. Are you ready to create your own product images that will attract and convert more customers on your site? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Ron Stefanski

Ron Stefanski

Ron Stefanski is an online entrepreneur and marketing professor who has a passion for helping people create and market their own online business. You can learn more from him by visiting OneHourProfessor.com

You can also connect with him on YouTube or Linkedin.