The 2020 Ecommerce Product Photography Guide to Storytelling Success

Pattern Data Science

January 13, 2020

It’s easy for anyone to put up one or two crappy images that display their product on Amazon or other marketplaces. So what really makes your product images and photography stand out from the rest? After all, ecommerce product photography can make or break your product listings when it comes to conversion, branding, and even customer satisfaction.

The secret to successful product photography that converts is actually quite simple, and all boils down to getting one thing right: Storytelling. 

Pattern’s product photography experts are among the few in the ecommerce world today who understand that the difference between adequate and excellent listings is curating a brand story. Of course, a successful brand story not only translates your brand image, but also gives information to the consumer in a way that encourages them to make an informed purchase. 

Let’s dive into why storytelling for ecommerce product photography is so important, some best practices that’ll help you stand out from the rest, and then take a look at a few case studies that’ll put our money where our mouth is, so to speak.

Why storytelling is important for product photography

Picture this: You’re browsing for a product on Amazon. What catches your eye first? Is it the title? The shipping date? The price? All that’s important once your interested is piqued, of course, but before anything else, it’s most likely the product image that caught your attention. According to Vouchercloud, 93% of consumers say visuals are the top factor affecting their ecommerce purchase decision.

Whether consciously or not, your brain automatically runs through a checklist similar to this:

  • Does the product seem like what I'm looking for?

  • Does it look durable, nice, tasty, beautiful, or X characteristic that I need right now?

  • Do I trust that the product will be what I need?

You can tell all of these things and more in the milliseconds it takes you to glance down the first page of search result images. For sellers, having product photography that resonates with consumers is the small-but-extremely-important difference between a scroll and a click. 

There are two overarching reasons why you absolutely must get product photography right by incorporating storytelling:

1. Show don’t tell. Showing (and not just telling) a story with a product photography first and foremost gives you a chance to visually explain what a product is like before a consumer ever gets into the specifications outlined in the product description’s bullet points. You can easily call out things that customers care about (like size, form, and style) without a single word. Talk about effective!

2. Build trust. Consumers can tell if you’ve put effort into your initial product photography. If your initial image gives a good impression that you’re trustworthy, that your product is what they need, and that it’s better than your competition, you’re already far ahead of other sellers who could care less about their images. (Because what story does that tell the consumer?) 

Best practices for product photography storytelling

So what can be done? How does one tell a story through product photography? According to Scott Davis, Pattern’s Director of Photography, it’s a fine mixture of technical know-how, experience, and strategic decision making. 

Scott suggested these 5 best practices for ecommerce product photography that brands should start implementing to really start seeing results.

1. Make sure product photography gives context.

Scale, style, and use are important things to convey in an ecommerce product listing image. At its core, the idea is to make the online shopping experience as similar to a real life shopping experience as you can. 

Ways to give context through product photography:

  • Make sure your images and clear, sharp, and well lit.

  • Show the product in use in a lifestyle image. This will help consumers understand how the product can be used, and also give them an idea of how the product occupies space.

  • Show the product in action. If it’s a container, show it filled with something. If it’s a clothing item, show how it fits when worn.

More and more consumers are relying solely on online marketplaces to buy things they would normally find in physical stores. Ergo, brands who give consumers a more complete online shopping experience are bound to rise above the rest.

Take our brand partner Pandora. With charms and jewelry, it's extremely difficult to understand size and fit unless you show it. (Telling customers it weighs 1.3 grams and is 11.3 x 8 millimeters wide isn't going to do much.)

Look at these two examples of images on a product listing. Which one are you more inclined to buy? 

ecommerce product photography guide 2020

Probably the one on the right, right? It shows you how the charm fits on a bracelet, and also gives an idea of the item's functionality.

2. Take time to fully understand your brand story.

Do you have an in-house creative team? If you’re one of the lucky few that do, are they making decisions to consciously tell your story on Amazon and other marketplaces in a way that'll increase conversion? 

It’s important that your creative team takes enough time to fully understand your brand and your story, inside and out. Unfortunately, many brands turn to creative agencies to deliver product images or mockups for product listings who could care less about digging into a brand story. The disadvantage there is that many agencies just want to get a job done—they’re not looking for long-term growth or watching out for brand equity.

At Pattern, Scott explained that one of our greatest advantages is that we operate almost just like an internal creative team with our partners. Since we’re actually invested in the product’s success because we purchase it up front, we’re not just selling a service. 

“An agency or another service provider can easily take photos of your products for you,” Scott said. “But Pattern can help recommend the types of images that are going to help your product sell better. There's a difference between doing what you're asked and being a partner and understanding your brand enough to help do the right thing for your brand.”

3. Be strategic.

You need a creative team who can make strategic decisions on your behalf with sales in mind—otherwise you might end up wasting a lot of valuable time and resources on things that (at the end of the day) don't convert into more sales. 

Some basic strategic practices include:

  • Take inventory of the types of content you’re displaying and its usefulness to you. Do you have computer generated renders of your products? Should you? Are you using spins? Videos? Do you even need them?  

  • Then take inventory of what types of content you should or could display that would help your product sell better. Would a 360 spin image help your customer get a better idea of your product? What about a video?

Remember, the goal here isn’t to be willy-nilly about including any and every type of content that you can, but to decide strategically what product lines and which specific ASINs could benefit from some extra love.

4. Utilize content offerings on different marketplaces. 

We’ve hit on product photography and images so far, but those aren’t the only ways you can tell a brand story on Amazon or other marketplace product listings.

  • Use A+ Content

Options like A+ Content (formerly Enhanced Brand Content for Vendors) can really help your brand shine on Amazon. Even eBay, Walmart.com, and Google Shopping offer sellers options for customizing their product content and listings.

Check out this example for A+ Content from our brand partner Thymes. Learn more about incorporating A+ Content on your listing here, here, and here.

A+ Content on Amazon helps your product convert

  • Use image slots correctly.

Of course, then there's the basic things like having one or two different images on a given listing. Amazon gives you up to 9 product image slots on a given product listing. While they usually only display 7 at a time, more are available if consumers click into your listing. You'll want to make the first main image a simple photograph with no graphic text. You want the image to stand out, but not at the expense of the product.

Of course, if you can clearly tell your product story in 4 or 5 images (which Scott recommends as a minimum image count), don’t waste your energy on pumping out more images just for the sake of it. As Scott said, there may not be a benefit to going above 6 or 7 images, but there is a clear disadvantage if you’re only giving 1 or 2 images.

5. Don't forget to get the technical elements right.

Finally, if you're going to make the effort to tell your brand story on a product listing, at least make sure you get the basic requirements for photo size and color down. You can go through all of Amazon's product image technical requirements here

In addition to the minimum requirements, we recommend you do the following:

  • SizeAmazon requires images of at least 1000 pixels or larger in either height or width, but those hardly show up well when a customer is zooming in or examining a product more closely. Scott recommends using at least a 2560 x 2560 pixel image (note that there’s a 10,000 x 10,000 pixel limit). As 4K and 5K monitors become more and more common, it's important to have larger images to make sure your product photography and imagery on a product listing can look great even on the largest monitor.

  • ColorAlthough Amazon says images in either sRGB or CMYK are acceptable, the reality is that Amazon will end up converting your image to sRGB anyway. Take the effort to convert your images to sRGB first to ensure the best color experience for your customers. After all, if you do something that makes your colors look bad on your end, chances are it'll only get worse on a consumer's end of things.

Pattern product photography case studies

We’re proud of the creative work we do for our partners, and we’re committed to going above and beyond expectations to make sure we tell their brand story right on the marketplace. Here are examples of our favorite product imagery and photography that we’ve done for our brand partners.

Pure Encapsulations

As a premium vitamin and supplement brand, we made sure Pure's Amazon listing looks and feels just as excellent as their product. After using our images and Enhanced Brand Content for a month, Pure’s increased units sold by 325.7%. 

Notice that we have 7 different product images and video for customers to go through here. The main image is basic, clean, and crisp—it is even able to highlight small physical details like the raised name around the bottle.

Pure Encapsulations increased sales by over 300% with Pattern's product photography experts on ecommerce

Next, we have great supplemental (pun intended) images of the product, including the pills, as well as lifestyle imagery that tells Pure's story in a unique and effective way.

ecommerce product photography example

Popsockets

Popsockets uses 3D renders of their product. However, for an item like Popsockets, it’s important to give context about what the product does. 

Popsockets ecommerce product photography 2020

For example, the first simple render of a Popsocket doesn't tell us anything about the size and use of a Popsocket. However, once you show the Popsocket in use (as in the images below), the whole narrative changes.

ecommerce product photography for popsockets

Jewelry Brand

For this jewelry brand, scale and contextual images are extremely important because of the size of their product, as we mentioned earlier. Our creative team added lifestyle contextual images to their product image list to give consumers a better feeling of each product's use and style. 

ecommerce product photography example for Pandora

using lifestyle images for ecommerce product photography helps sales grow

Paslode

Adding lifestyle photography helped Paslode give consumers a good sense of how a Paslode nailer could be used. We helped Paslode develop out their product images in a way that gave consumers a better idea of what the would feel like and look like in real life. 

Paslode's ecommerce product photography got a life with Pattern's creative team.

Having multiple images for ecommerce product images helps grow sales.

Contact us below to see how Pattern can vamp up your product photography (at no added cost to you!) through a Pattern partnership.

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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