Images play a huge role in the success of an ecommerce website. They can impact conversion rates, return rates, and even the number of people who actually see your merchandise (see tips 10 and 11 for more on that).
Obviously, with so much at stake, it’s important to get your ecommerce images exactly right – which means you have to master not just product photography but also some post-shoot optimization. Here, we offer 13 tips that will help ensure your ecommerce images are up to the task of boosting your conversion rate, lowering your return rate, and improving the overall experience of customers who visit your site.
1: Wear neutral colors to photo shoots
Okay, you probably aren't planning on being in the picture yourself, but still, be sure to wear black, white, or gray. Any other color could bounce light onto your photo shoot and discolor the images you take, which could lead to customers getting something that looks different from what they saw on their screen.
This, in turn, could lead to returns: 22 percent of product returns happen because an online image of a product didn’t match what arrived in the mail. Who knew that your wardrobe choices could have such costly consequences?
2: Spend time on prep to save time on editing
Setting up an ecommerce photo shoot can take time: you have to adjust the background, make sure the products are clean and dust-free, adjust the lighting, get the zoom just right, etc. But it will always take less time to set things up well on the front end than it will to edit out dust or smudges via software. In this case, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
3: Aim for eight images per product
As recently as 2016, online shoppers expected just three images of the products they were shopping for. Today, that number has shot up: customers expect eight individual images of a product they’re seeing online.
This can mean a bit of trial and error...make sure you bring your patience to the shoot! If you’re capturing your ecommerce images yourself, you may shoot dozens to get eight that are good enough to keep. If you’re outsourcing photography to a freelancer, you’ll have to clearly define in your contract how many images you want of each product.
4: Capture products from every angle
If eight images per product sounds like a lot, keep in mind that shoppers want to see products from every angle: front, back, top, bottom, and so on. They want to verify quality and functionality. They want to know which ports a gadget has or check whether a pattern is only on the front of a pillow.
So use your eight images wisely, to tell the full story of what a product is and what it can do.
5: Include both product images and lifestyle images
Of course, not all eight of your ecommerce images have to show the product against a white sweep. Including one or two lifestyle images – that is, images that show the product in the context it’s meant to be used – can help tell its story to shoppers and help them visualize themselves actually using the product.
If you’re going the DIY route to capture your ecommerce images, consider outsourcing lifestyle photography to a professional. There are a lot more variables when you move past a static background, so it’s best to invest in getting these images right.
6: Make images large
Larger images convert better than smaller images. But this doesn’t mean you should ditch everything on a product page but the image itself. Instead, play with page designs that allow for larger image real estate relative to words, links, and buttons.
Larger images have proven to drive up to 63% more clicks.
7: Make images interactive
Ecommerce images have to do the work that actual physical products do in brick-and-mortar stores. It’s no surprise, then, that images that shoppers can physically interact with – by zooming in and rotating, for example – are better at gaining customer trust than those that can’t be manipulated.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to ensure your images are high-enough quality that users (especially those on mobile) can zoom in. On Amazon and Etsy, images must be at least 1,000 x 1,000 pixels to allow zooming; on Shopify, the minimum size is 800 x 800.
8: Show all possible product configurations
In addition to showing a product from every angle, it’s important that ecommerce images show every possible version of a product that shoppers might order. If, for example, you’re selling three different sizes of lotion, you’ll want to include images of each bottle. If you’re selling a pair of pants in four colors, you’ll want to show each.
If you’re selling configurable products (like furniture or clothing), capturing images of every possible iteration can be an overwhelming task. In those instances, it may make more sense to tap into the power of virtual product photography, which lets you produce images with the help of software. All you need is a 3D file of your product.
9: Create a consistent user experience
It’s easier for customers to compare products when you present them in a consistent way. For best results, make sure the default image of every product you sell has the same orientation (square performs best on mobile), uses the same background, and shows the same angle of the product.
For example, you might opt for a square image with a white-sweep background that shows the front of a product.
Mobile devices account for about 54% of ecommerce traffic.
10: Optimize images for mobile
More than half of ecommerce traffic comes from mobile devices. If your ecommerce images aren’t optimized for the mobile viewing experience, your potential customers won’t see them and therefore won’t buy.
To ensure you’re optimizing for mobile…
- Compress images to ensure fast site speed. Larger images take more data and more time to load. This can send impatient mobile shoppers back to their search results in hopes of finding a faster-loading result (more than half of mobile users will leave a page that won’t load in three seconds). See tips for compressing images.
- Make images responsive. Wordpress sites have this functionality built in; if you’re not on Wordpress, make sure your developers know how to make images responsive so that mobile users get served a smaller, faster-loading version and desktop users see a larger version.
- Test your page speed. To see how your ecommerce site is doing speedwise, use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. It will grade your speed and offer suggestions for making it faster (and therefore more likely to rank in search and earn traffic).
11: Optimize images for accessibility
Images won’t be visible to some of your site visitors, whether because they have visual impairments or limited bandwidth. To ensure these visitors understand what you’re showing them, use the alt tags in the HTML of your images.
Alt tags offer an alternative to the image itself. They should describe exactly what’s in the image (e.g., “sleeveless, knee-length blue A-line dress on white background”).
12: Support images with product descriptions
A picture is worth 1,000 words, but words can help clarify what’s in pictures (e.g., specific component types, durability, weight, compatibility, etc.). To ensure your ecommerce images are performing at max capacity, include product descriptions with every image. Include more than just a list of specifications. Buyers want to know the benefits of product, not just its size and color. Overall, aim to be clear and concise – bullet points may be helpful.
13: Track product returns
We mentioned above that nearly a quarter of returns happen because the image of a product didn’t look like the product a customer received. This matters in ecommerce, where return rates are about three times higher than they are for brick-and-mortar stores.
When customers return a product, always ask why. If you’re finding that a mismatch between expectations and reality is a common complaint, it may be time to reevaluate your product images.
Better product visuals have proven to cut down on returns by as much as 40%.
Better Ecommerce Images = Better Results
Online, product imagery is one of your most powerful tools for communicating the substance and quality of what you’re selling. To maximize the odds that you’ll win customer trust, convert shoppers to buyers, and minimize returns, follow these tips. And if you want even more guidance on how to scale your eCommerce product photography, take a look here.
Feeling overwhelmed by how much work your ecommerce images have to do? Find out how virtual photography can create perfect images every time – without you ever having to pick up a camera.