Everything to Know About Ecommerce Photography

Scott Davis

November 29, 2021

You’ve seen the headlines: Articles raving about shopping online being convenient and hassle free. However, as a brand you know moving to ecommerce comes with its own set of challenges, one of them being that customers can no longer see a product in person or examine it in their hands. What was once a huge touchpoint for convincing the customer vanishes into a thin screen.

To be successful in online sales, you need to offer your customers a clear view of what your product looks like, feels like, and acts like, making ecommerce photography essential to the buying experience. This means spending time and money creating clear pictures of your product, so that customers are drawn to it and their expectations satisfied when their shipment arrives.

Why does ecommerce photography matter?

Photos are the first thing customers look at when searching, and, often, the only thing customers look at to decide if they should give the product more time. Buyers click the photos that appeal to them the most. If they can’t figure out what your product is quickly by looking at a picture, they’ll move on to another product, potentially from a competitor. They won’t buy a product if they can’t clearly see what it will be like in appearance, functionality, and value.

Customers also recognize poorly photoshopped photos, creating doubt in the quality and authenticity of a product. However, when seeing multiple clear photos customers can picture themselves with the product and trust that what they see is actually what they get. If a brand is putting effort into photos, it sends a message that they also put effort into everything.

The clarity of the photos also allows customers to know exactly what they're buying and how to use products. Bad lighting or placement causes confusion on colors and size, leading to returns and dissatisfied customers leaving reviews complaining that what is advertised is not what they received. Good pictures, on the other hand, lead to brand loyalty and a positive brand reputation, as well as higher ranked listings on marketplaces like Amazon. Basically, great pictures lead to more sales and happier customers who leave happy reviews, creating more customers.

Things to consider before you take ecommerce photos

Your skill level

When it comes to product photography, what is your skill level? Do you have experience with taking pictures, or access to editing software and locations or a studio? If the answer is no, it may be better to outsource this need. Remember, if you are going to take the time to invest in quality photography, you want to get the most value possible for your customers.

Your budget

What is the amount you are willing to spend? A good budget will depend on your product type and your photography needs. Great product photography can get expensive, so do your research and budget accordingly. Is it more beneficial to spend the money on equipment and do it yourself, or hire someone with expertise and equipment? Remember, strong photos will increase your sales and save you money on returns. Spend the time now and you’ll see that the cost is worth the investment.

Your timeline

When you are planning to launch a product, you need to make sure you leave ample time for the photography process. This includes creative meetings, studio shoots, and editing. Do you have a launch coming? A holiday campaign on the horizon? Start planning now.

Your asset library

If you are updating a product instead of starting from scratch, gather the photos that you already have. You and your photographer or creative director can work from there to decide what you want to build upon and how to create a great shopping experience. Analyzing what you already have can better inform what gaps you need to fill and what direction you want to pivot.

What you’ll need to start

A lot of preparation and resources go into taking great ecommerce photos. Whether you are starting things up in-house or looking for ways to vet a potential contractor, here are a few basic examples of what you’ll need:

  • Neutral background: The majority of ecommerce sites require that your first photo be of your product in front of a white background. The neutral/white background eliminates distractions and highlights exactly what your product is, so have a few pictures on hand from different angles.
  • A good camera: A camera and tripod are vital to focused, clean images. If you plan on taking your own photos, invest and learn how to use a camera professionals use, like a DSLR. If you are in a bind, you can use a smartphone–just know those pictures will require more editing and will not be as high quality.
  • Good lighting: Look for a space with natural light, but not direct sunlight, as you want to limit the shadows. Lamps and other lighting sources also help highlight your product- take a few tester shots to decide exactly how/where to position the product and light features.
  • Editing: Know what editing software you want to use and be familiar with it. This happens after the photo shoot, and will enhance the pictures that you have taken to be used on your website, social media, and in ads. Remember to stay honest when you’re editing, don’t change what your product is through editing, because customers will notice and reviews will reflect the changes.

Ecommerce photography tips and tricks from Pattern

The goal of ecommerce photography is to accurately show your product, convince the customer they should buy, and beat the competition. No matter where you are in your ecommerce photography journey, these tips and tricks can serve as a great reminder of what to focus on to help the photography process go smoothly.

  • Have a vision: Know what kind of experience you want to give shoppers and what you want to show about your product beforehand. Have a clear brand strategy, and know that the photographer and others are there to help you show your vision.
  • **Know what you want to take pictures of: **Do you want to do all of your products, or start with your best sellers and move down? When you’ve decided what products to take pictures of, make sure they are ready to go. Then there’s no question about which product needs what pictures done, leaving plenty of time to get the great pictures you want.
  • Set up beforehand: If you are hiring a photographer, point out exactly where you want products to be shot, especially if you are on location. Have all the lighting ready, backdrops set, and props available. Now you can move through each shot seamlessly.
  • **Take angled pictures: **Showing your product from all sides adds diversity to your photos. It also shows customers what they’re buying, letting them look at the angles as if they were holding the product in their hands.
  • Show it in Action: Don’t just have bland, basic photos. Go a step further to put your product in an environment or on models. This lets customers know how it would fit into their lives and also how to correctly use the product. A customer is more likely to buy if they can understand where a product will fit into their life.

Whether you take on photography yourself or outsource it, proper photos can make a huge difference for your brand. If you’re not already convinced that you need to invest in your ecommerce photography, let’s sum up some pros and cons:

Pros of ecommerce photography

Great photography = reusable assets

You can use the photos on your d2c site, your marketplace listing, for social media posts, in digital advertising, etc. One great photo could lead to 10 positive customer touchpoints and make planning future content more efficient.

Competitive edge

By having high-quality photography you take an edge over your competitors. Clean and clear images appeal to customers and attract attention, making you the brand they want to go to in your space.

Minimize Confusion

As if picking the perfect size online isn’t hard enough, customers don’t want ambiguity when spending their money. Shoppers want to understand the type of material, the quality, the size, the true color, etc. before they make their purchase. No one wants to give away their money ‘hoping’ something will work out or knowing there is a high probability they’ll have to go through the work of a return.

Improve Reviews

Right alongside confusion, your reviews are greatly helped by strong images providing better product clarity up front. Customers whose expectations were missed will leave negative reviews, hurting your listing and selling potential. Customers who got exactly what they expected will be delighted. Think about it, if they were confident in what they were getting and still spent their money they obviously have a use for your product and are more likely to be happy with it.

Plus, positive reviews act as a trustworthy, outsider opinion on your product, validating your sales claims for new shoppers. We understand the importance of reviews and between investing in strong marketplace listings, setting correct expectations, and killer customer support, Pattern has been able to help our partners overall have an average Amazon rating of 4.5 stars, and we’re just getting started.

Reduce Returns, Increase Profits

With confusion and misunderstood products comes unhappy customers and negative reviews, you know that. But this also leads to higher return rates for those upset buyers. This can result in huge financial losses as some products can’t be resold once returned, forcing the company to eat the cost of production, shipping, and customer support.

Cons of ecommerce Photography

A final break-up

Unfortunately great photography will mean it’s time to say goodbye to your Shutterstock subscription! As fun as filling your extra image slots with pictures of women smiling over salads and men looking confused at a computer can be, your customers deserve images that tell the story of your brand and your product.

Taking the leap

While you may recognize stock images and outdated product photos aren’t doing you any favors, you’re thinking they’ve worked so far, right? And you may feel you’ve got a system in place that is convenient and comfortable. But comfortable doesn’t accelerate your brand’s growth. You’re going to have to take the leap and try something new for your brand to keep up in the ever-growing ecommerce world.

Lucky for you, ecommerce product photography doesn’t have to be scary. Working with Pattern means that your ecommerce photography is included in your partnership, along with SEO optimization, advertising, shipping, warehouse logistics, and so much more.

How Pattern can help with your ecommerce photography

Pattern’s world class creative team can help you capture not only great product photos, but also bring your brand vision to life.

We only hire top talent for our directors and photographers—so you can trust they have the expertise needed to take great photos and help you deliver even better results. Here at Pattern, our goal is to dedicate resources to your products to help them sell better. If you’re unsure of what you want, then Pattern can also help you with your ecommerce creative strategy.

Whether you choose to take your own photos or hire professional photographers, remember to tie everything back to your vision. With that said, it’s time to get to work and create content that will please buyers and increase sales. Want to learn more about Pattern’s creative expertise? Reach out today.

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Aug 10, 2022

Pattern Increases American Pet Brand Tmall Sales by 500%

American Pet Brand, one of the largest manufacturers of electronic pet training products in the U.S., had entered into the China market and, after a few years, established an impressive level of brand awareness in the country.  Content with their level of success in China, the brand was cruising on Tmall without much support. 

However, without investing in their brand growth and maintaining a competitive edge with advertising on Tmall, sales slowed down and their social media engagement with customers became idle. The brand was left trying to figure out how to regain its momentum.

After a year of flailing, American Pet Brand realized they could not do it alone and partnered with Pattern to redirect its trajectory on Tmall. Pattern, an ecommerce accelerator, provided the global expertise and resources the brand needed to regain control and succeed on Tmall.

Pattern Developed and Executed a Brand Creative Strategy 

Building from a strong brand foundation in one of the world’s largest ecommerce markets, Pattern’s experts:  

1. Focused on Brand Image across Advertising and Marketing

Pattern’s China experts worked with the brand to reactivate the existing customer base and attract new customers through a series of marketing activities. Using proprietary technology and data-driven insights, Pattern developed and launched advertising campaigns to drive both traffic and conversion to its listings. 

Additionally, the brand launched influencer marketing campaigns that heavily revolved around Key Opinion Leader (KOL) and Key Opinion Consumer (KOC) campaigns. With the extra validation from key voices in the market, increased the reach of and American Pet Brand profile.  

2. Updated Product Listings to Optimize Tmall Presence for All Products

Pattern experts helped the brand optimize the Tmall store set up, design, and customer service support. The increase of customer support is essential to gain a competitive edge on Tmall.  Primarily because positive customer experiences improve a brand’s Detailed Seller Rank (DSR), and is crucial if you want to ensure that one-time purchasers of your brand are converted into repeat purchasers.  Together, these improvements provided for a global increase in customer experience satisfaction.

3. Re-established Seller Control with a New Reseller Cooperation Arrangement, including Marketing Terms

Pattern’s team worked with the brand to set and execute a new reseller cooperation arrangement that invited resellers to purchase through the official channel with better control of pricing, discount, content, and marketing messages.

Creative Refresh Leads to 500% Sales Growth on Tmall

Together with Pattern’s China experts, American Pet Brand was able to achieve incredible results:

  • 500% sales growth in only 3 months

  • Successfully reactivated the customer base and existing resellers with effective, consistent, and focused marketing campaigns

  • Increased brand awareness from social marketing activities, which also increased engagement 

Pattern Drives Revenue on Tmall and Beyond

Working together with the American Pet Brand team, Pattern revived the brand and redirected its sales trajectory on Tmall. The quick sales success showcases that by focusing an ecommerce strategy on key brand and advertising components that drive traffic and conversion, a brand will grow its profitability on global marketplaces.

Looking to succeed on Tmall and beyond?  Contact Us.

Aug 9, 2022

The Ecommerce Equation: 4 Levers CEOs Use to Drive Marketplace Revenue

Developing your ecommerce strategy for digital marketplaces like Amazon, Walmart, Tmall, and Alibaba gets complicated fast—there’s a lot to think about, including marketplace SEO, product photography, advertising tactics, disjointed sellers, distribution logistics, managing ratings and reviews, and more. It can be overwhelming for brands, especially those with small teams, to know which behaviors to optimize for for the highest gains in profitability.

The good news? Revenue performance all comes down to data. Pattern was built on a data science approach to ecommerce success. We find the patterns that drive profitability, then apply them to boost our brand partners’ revenue on ecommerce channels.

And a key pattern we follow for all brands on digital marketplaces is the ecommerce equation: revenue = traffic x conversions x price x availability. As brands zero in on these four pieces of the equation, they can simplify and focus their efforts to reach truly profitable ecommerce growth. 

1. Drive Traffic to Products

The first part of the equation is traffic—you need to get people to see your listings if you want to generate sales. There are two ways to drive traffic to your products: through organic search and paid search. Striking the right balance between both for your brands is crucial to driving enough of the right traffic to your products, ultimately increasing your ecommerce revenue.

Knowing this, Pattern provides the resources and technology needed to drive traffic to your product listings. Our brand management team, advertising specialists, and SEO technicians work in harmony to create a unified strategy to boost your brand’s organic profile and balance that with a paid advertising approach that works for your brand and listings.

Using this method, we took Feetures socks from ranking on longer-tail terms like “no show athletic socks black” to driving traffic on parent keywords like “no show socks.”

2. Create Content that Converts

Getting customers to your product listing is only half the battle. Once on your listing, you need customers to convert. Conversion is key to the ecommerce equation because it leads to real product purchases and revenue. Traffic without conversion leads to more time and ad spend without the ROI.

Optimizing your images, product description, bulleted details, customer reviews, and buy box performance is key to successful conversion. If you’re going to spend time and effort driving traffic, you should make sure customers can easily and clearly find what they’re looking for when they arrive at your listing.

While your imagery and descriptions are important, you also need to build customer trust to drive conversions. Studies show that your customer service efforts matter too—84% of people trust online reviews as much as friends, making strong reviews an important factor of conversion on marketplaces.

The good news is as you provide a quality product and a great marketplace experience, you’ll build brand equity, increasing your customer loyalty. Then, as your reputation, reviews, and traffic grow positively, marketplace algorithms will recognize your popularity and improve your rank accordingly. Rank drives both traffic and conversions, helping you to optimize your performance further. As your brand equity grows, your conversions will continue to grow with it.

3. Control Your Price

While setting a strategic price is an important step in your ecommerce strategy, it takes more than that to truly control your price on marketplaces. 

Without proper control and with wide distribution, your product could end up in the hands of disjointed sellers who lower your marketplace price to sell their inventory and make quick profits. With one seller lowering price online, other authorized sellers and retail partners are forced to lower their price to compete, creating price erosion and sending your brand down the profitability death spiral.

This Death Spiral damages brand equity, hurts conversions, and can lead to Buy Box Suppression on Amazon, hindering traffic as well. And as prices get lower and lower, your profit margin withers away, decreasing your overall revenue.

Using our data-driven insights and Pattern’s eControl partner Vorys, we help brands implement narrow distribution, identify and take-down unauthorized sellers, eliminate price erosion, and control their price online. Focusing on price control, Pattern helped LifeSeasons, a premium supplement company, take back 91% control of the Buy Box on Amazon.

Download the LifeSeasons 1-Page Case Study Here

4. Optimize Your Product Availability

The last piece of the ecommerce equation is availability. It makes sense to think of availability as a contributing factor in conversion, but we felt that it’s important enough to call out on its own—you can fully optimize your traffic, conversion, and price, but without availability, you can’t grow revenue for your brand.

A lack of availability leads to stock outs, losing conversions to competitors, losing possession of the buy box, poor customer reviews, a decrease in traffic…the list goes on. The best-performing brands on ecommerce digital marketplaces optimize their availability with high-end technology, optimize their cash on hand, and inventory time on hand to keep the ecommerce equation powered and optimized in their favor.

How Pattern Drives Revenue Using the Ecommerce Equation

Pattern is committed to  solving the ecommerce equation. We partner with brands to provide the expertise, resources, and technology needed to drive traffic, create content that converts, protect price, maintain availability, and ultimately accelerate ecommerce revenue and profitable growth. 

Interested in improving the results of your ecommerce equation? Schedule a call.

Aug 8, 2022

Global Insights: Spotlight on Amazon in Emerging Markets

We have analyzed Amazon in emerging markets compared to countries where it has already achieved dominance, following its reported growth of 22% between [2020](https://www.marketplacepulse.com/articles/amazon-gmv-in-2020) and [2021](https://www.marketplacepulse.com/articles/amazon-gmv-reached-600-billion-in-2021). Pattern’s [Amazon Consumer Insights Report 2022](https://info.pattern.com/amazon-consumer-insights-report-2022) has highlighted some interesting insights into the similarities and differences in the ways Amazon is used across 17 different countries. We carried out research on various macroeconomic indicators and data related to Amazon usage in each country to better understand the key factors that determine the suitability of the markets. In this blog we outline the most interesting Amazon global insights that will be of interest to brands determining where they should have a presence on the marketplace, particularly Amazon in emerging markets. Population, urbanization, and GDP per capita are all factors which have a large effect on ecommerce and marketplace strategy in a country. These factors need to be taken into consideration when understanding the potential a brand has when entering a new market. Notable takeaways from the report are highlighted below. Price of Amazon Prime The monthly cost of Amazon Prime varies greatly depending on how developed the Amazon market is in the country. We noticed that in countries with a higher GDP per capita and a more dominant Amazon presence, the price of Prime is substantially higher, for example, in the US ($14.99) and in the UK ($10.08). The monthly cost of Prime in the UK has [recently increased by $1.26](https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-62297014) due to higher operating costs, but we believe that UK consumers will accept this increase. As a comparison, less developed markets with lower GDP per capita figures, such as Poland ($2.56) and Brazil ($3.12), have significantly lower monthly Prime prices. Amazon purposely prices Prime to be very cost-effective for customers in emerging markets as a customer acquisition strategy and to help grow its market share more quickly. Desktop vs. Mobile India, Japan and Mexico were found to have higher percentages of traffic from mobile devices compared to other markets. This is in line with data which looks at the [leading countries based on retail mobile commerce sales growth](https://www.statista.com/statistics/1261743/leading-countries-mobile-commerce-sales-growth/), and shows how particular countries spend more time online using mobiles rather than desktops. App Downloads & Ranking In this year’s report, we made the decision to include data on the Amazon App (Android), as more consumers are shopping online on mobile devices. This is reflected in the average monthly downloads and category rank of the app. Mexico sees an average of 1.2 million monthly downloads of the Amazon (Android) App. This is expected, as Mexico is one of the regions that has a higher percentage of traffic from mobile devices compared to desktops. In terms of average monthly Amazon web traffic, Mexico is the 9th largest out of the 17 countries analyzed, but after the US and Brazil, is the 3rd largest in terms of monthly downloads of the Android App, highlighting the country’s preference for using the Amazon App. Visit Duration & Page Views In markets where Amazon is robust and well developed, like the USA, UK and Germany, consumers tend to spend more time on the platform and view more pages per visit, as there is more choice from a wider range of products to explore. On the other hand, in markets where Amazon is still either at its early implementation or growth phase, like the Netherlands, Poland, and Brazil, there is less on offer and a far smaller selection or products. Inevitably, we noticed consumers have a lower average visit duration and view fewer pages in these markets. We would expect to see these metrics increase as Amazon’s product selection increases in these markets. Top Selling Categories There are many similarities between the different markets in terms of the top selling categories in each country. Out of 17 countries, 12 had Home & Kitchen and 11 had Electronics in their top 3 categories. Regional differences can be seen with Sports & Outdoors only ranking as a top category in the UK, Video Games only in Japan, and Hardware only in Germany. It is important for brands to acknowledge that not all categories will sell successfully across all markets. Just because the category is popular in one or more markets, does not mean that it will work across all 17 instances that we analyzed. Our Amazon consumer insights report shows that although the online marketplace dominates online retail in the USA and several other Western European countries, the company is aiming to build that position in countries where it is newer in the market by taking into account the regional differences in consumer behavior and expectations within its proposition. [Download the full report here](https://info.pattern.com/amazon-consumer-insights-report-2022), and [contact us here](https://info.pattern.com/contact-us/) to learn how we could support your global marketplace strategy or for more information on how we partner with brands to represent them on Amazon.