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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MAP Pricing vs MSRP: What's the Difference? (blog header)
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MAP Pricing vs. MSRP: What's the Difference?

“MAP” and “MSRP” are two of hundreds of acronyms floating around in the world of ecommerce, and they’re two of the easiest to confuse and misunderstand. While MAP and MSRP do play similar roles, they also have key differences that can work in tandem to support and protect your brand on marketplaces.

So what are MAP and MSRP and why do they matter? Here’s what you should know: 

What is MAP?

MAP (or minimum advertised price) is the minimum amount that a manufacturer or wholesaler recommends resellers advertise their products for. MAP pricing policy is essentially a one-way boundary you set to protect your brand, protect the margins of your resellers, and maintain fair competition across all of your distribution channels.

When setting a MAP policy strategy, remember the important things you’ll want your MAP policy to do are:

  1. Protect the interests of your brick-and-mortar resellers, giving them the margins they need to display and carry your product as well as sell it.

  2. Stay small enough that it discourages resellers from heavily discounting your products and keeps competition fair.

  3. Accurately reflects on the brand image and value you want to reflect.

“Advertising” and “recommends” are the key terms here. MAP policies should only recommend the price that is advertised online or in-store for a product, not attempt to fix the actual selling price of the product—that’s illegal—or recommend the actual selling price. That’s MSRP’s job.

Benefits of MAP

MAP not only keeps competition fair, but allows you to control your brand identity and promote consumer trust of your product and brand. Here are some of the benefits of having MAP policies:

  • Better brand protection and control

  • Creates a level playing field for retailers

  • Reduces bad customer experiences

  • Provides an accurate performance analysis

How Can Brands Effectively Enforce MAP?

It’s critical that MAP policies are structured in such a way that a brand avoids violating anti-trust laws. One way brands can effectively enforce MAP is by simply monitoring online product prices across digital channels to identify fluctuations in the market. 

At Pattern, we help brands not only develop a MAP policy, but also enforce it. Enforcing MAP policies and gaining marketplace control includes finding unauthorized sellers, which Pattern’s data finds. Once Pattern finds the unauthorized sellers, Vorys eControls (Pattern’s legal partner) steps in and handles the takedowns of unauthorized sellers, continuous enforcement of brand management, and reseller policy enforcements.

What is MSRP?

MSRP (or manufacturer’s suggested retail price) is how manufacturers standardize pricing across their resale channel and determine what price is fair for their product. The key difference between MSRP and MAP is that MSRP is the actual price manufacturers set and recommend retailers charge for their goods while MAP is the advertised price. 

MSRP doesn’t necessarily have to be the final price of a product—it’s most often a starting price—but it is determined by taking into account all of the costs associated with the distribution and manufacturing process for a product and the margin amount resellers need in order to make a profit. MSRP also establishes value. For example, if a brand wants to build a premium brand, the MSRP can reflect the actual or perceived value of their product.

Benefits of MSRP

Setting up an MSRP for your product includes the following benefits:

  • Maintains brand equity

  • Establishes brand and product value

  • Standardizes costs across marketplaces

How Can Brands Effectively Enforce MSRP?

Like MAP pricing, MSRP has to be set up as a one-way policy and not an agreement between a manufacturer and a reseller to avoid landing a manufacturer on the wrong side of the law. It’s a recommendation, not a contractual bind. As mentioned for MAP policy, Pattern helps brands effectively enforce MSRP with our proprietary data and expertise to protect their brand. 

How Do MAP and MSRP Work Together?

MAP and MSRP have different applications that may prove useful in different scenarios. For example, MAP policies are typically more useful in marketplaces where competition is fierce and price erosion happens easily if sellers are left unchecked. Ideally, however, MAP and MSRP are a dynamic duo that work together to serve the interests of your brand, support your resale channels, and protect your resellers.

Setting an MSRP establishes value for your product and lets your resellers know you’re serious about controlling channel conflict, maintaining pricing equity, and protecting their margins so they’re more confident setting pricing at the MSRP level.

MAP is the second half of setting a pricing policy. Setting a MAP price for your product, in addition to an MSRP, further standardizes pricing across your resale channel and gives legitimate resellers a fair environment to compete in while setting boundaries against unauthorized sellers harming your brand.

MAP combined with MSRP creates a stronger level of brand protection, giving your brand more sustainable, profitable growth.

Maintain Brand Control With Pattern

MAP policies can be tricky to draft, because there are so many legal lines to tiptoe around and so much nuance that goes into pricing. They can also be tricky to enforce without the right tools. At Pattern, partnered with Vorys, we have the tools and resources to help you maintain brand control on all marketplaces. 

As an ecommerce accelerator, Pattern can help you identify MAP violators and regain control of your brand online so that your image and your resellers are protected. To learn more, contact us today.

Athlon Optics Walmart.com Launch Has Record Setting Sales within 3 Days
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Athlon Optics Walmart.com Launch Has Record Setting Sales within 3 Days

Athlon Optics sells scopes and other optical accessories like binoculars for anyone who may be hunting, shooting recreationally, or competing.  After achieving significant success on Amazon, the brand wanted to launch on Walmart. As a growing marketplace with huge growth forecasts, Athlon saw their competitors already staking claim on walmart.com and saw opportunities for increasing their sales.

As a prestigious brand in its category, with loyal consumers, Athlon does so much with very few resources. With less than twenty employees in the entire company, managing everything from customer service to product development, their ecommerce team needed support to scale to a new marketplace.  And, they needed a partner who had a relationship with and deep understanding of walmart.com to accelerate their growth. Pattern is a one-stop shop for Athlon, providing the resources and expertise, so Athlon could also save budget and stop outsourcing so many different aspects of their marketplace business.

Athlon Optics Prepares for a Seamless Launch

Sometimes brands who transition from 1P to 3P with Pattern have no proprietary sales, marketplace data or content such as product images, video, or optimized copy. These circumstances create a more hands on transition for Pattern and may interfere with launch expectations. 

But Athlon was the consummate partner and overly prepared to transition to 3P– buttoned up, organized, and ready to take on walmart.com’s list of launch needs. Athlon provided all the required assets on time and was very organized.  The images were shot, formatted, and categorized as A+ content that Pattern ported over.  This process dramatically reduced wait times and lag times within the platform.  Plus, since the content was optimized for marketplaces, all images, copy, and listing information uploaded in the first pass. 

Pattern’s Walmart Expertise Leads to Success

But the content worked because of Pattern’s resources and marketplace expertise.  Pattern provided Athlon with a very clear outline of needs and expectations for seamless launch and this process has become a playbook for other brands on walmart.com.  The team’s mutual partnership and Pattern’s diligent follow up with and detailed attention to Walmart processes and logistics prevented Athlon from getting lost in the weeds. 

Three Days is All it Takes

The successful, thorough, and quick transition to 3P with Pattern secured Athlon most likely the fastest ramp-up periods for any brand on Walmart.com.  

Together we achieved success such as:

  • 'Best in class' turnaround–98% faster onboarding than average brand on Walmart.

  • First sale within the first week of landing at Walmart. 

    • Unprecedented turnaround considering the ramp up usually needed to gain momentum and traction with reviews on Walmart. 

  • Exceeded initial first month growth projection by 34%.

Athlon was so impressed by the ease and simplicity of its launch and execution on Walmart that the brand wants to grow our 3P relationship with other marketplaces such as Amazon Canada and Target+.

And, in the meantime, look out for Athlon Optics in Walmart Deal Days in 2022.  A huge win for any brand tied to organic advertising and new traffic opportunities across all media.

Pattern Helps Brands Expand Marketplaces 

Pattern has the 3P partner experience and deep expertise on Walmart and other global marketplaces to help a brand expand their footprint to maintain sales momentum and a competitive edge. Pattern, an ecommerce accelerator, takes on the responsibility of your stock and provides the expert resources needed to successfully launch and continue to grow your revenue on global marketplaces. 

Learn more about Pattern’s expertise and partnership on Walmart.  Contact us today.

Amazon A+ Content
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Amazon A+ and Premium A+ Content: Pros and Cons Brands Need to Know

Long gone are the days when Amazon listings were limited to a simple product description, five bullet points, and eight pictures. As the platform, and number of sellers, has grown, sellers have had to be more and more strategic and eye-catching to increase traffic and conversions on their listings.

Brands on Amazon have plenty of attractive options available to design their Amazon storefront, which reside in two of Amazon’s content tools: A+ Content and Premium A+ Content (or  A++ Content).

Here’s the pros and cons of brands using A+ Content vs. Premium A+ Content:

What is Amazon A+ Content?

Amazon A+ Content is a standard feature available to all Amazon Sellers and free as one of the many benefits of Amazon Brand Registry. 

With A+ Content, a product listing can have more than a plain text description and standard photo reel–it can include high quality multimedia photos and videos alongside eye-catching information to share the product story, and not just the product appearance.

Some noteworthy features that Amazon A+ offers are:

  • Multiple, varied images of a product

  • Strategically concise introduction

  • Video

  • Bullet points

  • 360° product views

  • Matrix comparison charts

  • “What’s in the box” section

What is Amazon Premium A+ Content?

Amazon Premium A+ Content, or Amazon A++ Content, is a tool that goes a level beyond basic A+ Content, giving brands the ability to showcase their product’s most important features and benefits with a modern, visually appealing structure. 

In August 2022, Amazon announced Premium A+ would be available on Seller Central for free usage during a promotional period. Previously, Premium A+ content was available only by invite for brands using Vendor Central and could cost anywhere from $250K and $500K per product. 

With Premium A+ content, a brand visually communicates using imagery and video, and relies much less on text due to strict character limits for product descriptions. According to Amazon, implementing Premium A+ content can increase your sales by 20%.

For the first time ever, Premium A+ expands the usable real estate of the page, using the entire width of the screen for a sophisticated and modern feel.

Some noteworthy features that Premium A+ offers are:

  • Video

  • Full-width imagery

  • More space

  • Clickable Q&A

  • Interactive comparison charts

  • Carousel modules

  • Mobile-friendly and voice-friendly product pages

  • Testimonials

Pros and Cons of Amazon A+ vs. Premium A+ Content

Although their purposes are similar, there are some key differences between A+ Content and Premium A+ Content. Here are the pros and cons for each tool:

Basic Amazon A+ Content

Pros:

  • Free and unlimited use for all Vendors.

  • An effective tool to enhance customer experience and product listings.

Cons:

  • Less features than Premium A+.

  • It's not as visually appealing as Premium A+.

Premium A+ Content

Pros:

  • There are 16 extra modules to choose from that are media-rich and make an impact.

  • You have two more available module slots than Basic Amazon A+.

  • Overall, there are more possibilities for hyper-engaging content.

  • You can expect a sales rate increase of up to 20% with Premium A+, according to Amazon.

Cons:

  • Amazon has positioned Premium A+ content as more of an exclusive tool, requiring eligibility based on past content to qualify for Premium A+ content. 

  • Character limit restrictions are more strict than Basic Amazon A+.

Elevate Your Amazon Content with Pattern

Ultimately, both of these tools exist to help you and your brand provide customers the best online shopping experience possible. Although Premium A+ offers plenty of exciting new options for enhancing customers’ buying experience, it may not be for everyone. Optimizing your Amazon listing with A+ or Premium A+ Content can provide the best opportunity to build a strong reputation for better brand-recognition and customer affinity. 

Our creative and digital marketing experts at Pattern can help brands use A+ Content and Premium A+ Content to increase conversions and give buyers an amazing experience.

Learn how Pattern can help you increase conversions on Amazon. Contact us