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,, 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 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


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.

Explore Our Ecommerce Resource Library

Find relevant content to accelerate your ecommerce business. Stay on top of industry trends and best practices.

Global Ecommerce: Weekly News (6th September 2022)

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 6th September 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon announces new inventory and distribution service, AWD Amazon has launched Amazon Warehousing and Distribution (AWD), providing inventory and distribution services to its sellers as a means of addressing current supply chain issues. AWD is now available for sellers using Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA), i.e. outsourcing their fulfilment to the platform. Amazon has plans to expand the service outside the platform in 2023. [Read more on Charged Retail]( Amazon Web Services (AWS) launches in the UAE AWS, Amazon’s cloud-computing platform offering, has launched its second region in the Middle East and now provides its services in the UAE. The move will now allow anyone in the UAE who utilises cloud technologies to harness AWS’s advanced platforms and APIs. An estimated $11 billion USD is expected to be added to the UAE’s GDP thanks to the implementation, with an average of 6,000 external vendor jobs to be created annually. AWS is now available in 87 zones across 27 regions, with sights set on expanding further across Australia, Canada, India, Israel, New Zealand, Spain, and Switzerland. [Read more on Charged Retail]( --- Other Marketplace News --- Lazada to launch in Europe Alibaba-owned ecommerce platform Lazada is set to launch in Europe, marking a refreshed internationalisation push from the company. The move follows toughening economic conditions and performance in Southeast Asia, advancing the need to tap overseas markets. In Europe, Lazada will face tough competition from giants like Amazon and Zalando. Lazada’s exact entry strategy is to be confirmed and will be reliant on macroeconomic and market conditions, according to Lazada CEO James Dong. [Read more on DigitalCommerce360]( Chinese ecommerce giant Pinduoduo to launch cross-border platform in the United States Pinduoduo, a Chinese ecommerce giant rivalling Alibaba and JD, has announced it will be launching a new cross-border ecommerce platform. The marketplace is set to launch in the United States next month, as part of the company’s larger push into new markets. Pinduoduo found success in China thanks to its rock-bottom price offerings and harnessing of social commerce marketing, emulating strategies similar to fast-fashion giant Shein. [Read more on Yahoo Finance]( Alibaba launches its biggest B2B sales event, ‘Super September’ China ecommerce giant, Alibaba, has now launched its month-long B2B sales event ‘Super September’. The event provides 40 million buyers and 200,000 suppliers with the ability to connect on the platform, showcasing a ‘virtually unlimited’ number of products. The event hopes to foster new cross-border business relationships to tackle supply chain challenges currently faced by businesses. [Read more on Charged Retail]( --- Other Ecommerce News --- Klarna’s losses quadruple in first half of 2022 BNPL provider, Klarna, has reported losses of $581 million USD for the first half of 2022. This figure is almost four times larger than a year earlier, where $129 million USD in losses were reported. The company attributes the losses to employee costs, technology investments, and rising credit losses. Klarna’s figure reporting comes amidst worsening economic conditions, fresh legal and regulatory scrutiny, and pressure from Big Tech competitors. [Read more on The Financial Times]( [Read more on the Guardian]( One fifth of Snap employees to be laid off amidst poor financial performance Social media platform Snap (‘Snapchat’) has announced it will be laying off 20% of its employees and closing out a number of projects following a year of poor financial results.The move will see 1,200 employees globally lose their jobs, saving the company an estimated $500 million USD in costs. Snap is currently valued at $20 billion, an 84% decrease from its valuation of $130 billion last year. [Read more on Charged Retail](

Global Ecommerce: Weekly News (30th August 2022)

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 30th August 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon set to shut down Amazon Care Amazon is closing its telehealth service, Amazon Care, which launched in 2019 as a trial program for its headquartered employees. Later the service was rolled out nationwide for employees and other companies. The ecommerce giant has now made the decision to move away from the healthcare space, believing it was not the right long-term solution for its enterprise customers. [Read more on CNBC]( Peloton closes new deal to sell on Amazon Following a recent deal, Amazon customers will soon be able to buy Peloton fitness equipment on the marketplace, marking Peleton’s first move outside a direct-to-consumer model. According to Peloton’s CCO, there are already around half a million searches on Amazon for Peloton products every month, despite having no presence on the marketplace. Some key products include the original Peloton Bike, retailing for $1,445 and Peloton Guide for $295. [Read more on Charged Retail]( --- Other Marketplace News --- 60% of Malaysians are buying from local sellers on Shopee A recent survey of nearly 3,500 respondents found that nearly half of the shoppers prefer to purchase from local sellers due to shorter delivery times. Other shoppers decide to shop locally due to the quality of the products made in Malaysia and an interest in keeping the economy running. As a result, smaller local merchants have been able to grow their businesses, and shoppers benefit from shorter delivery times, products of high quality and supporting local businesses. [Read more on The Malaysian Reserve]( Flipkart’s social commerce platform Shopsy crosses 100 million users Flipkart launched a social commerce arm, Shopsy, in July of last year, which has now surpassed 100 million users, ahead of its target timeline being the end of 2022. This acquisition of new users has made Shopsy one of the largest platforms of its kind in the country, and is expected to onboard a further 100 million by the end of 2023. The platform is centred around boosting local entrepreneurship and powering ecommerce for consumers across tier 2+ regions where users face challenges around trust and navigation when shopping online. [Read more on Business Standard]( Meta joins Amazon and Walmart in bid for Indian ecommerce market Amazon mentioned earlier in the year that it would be building a logistics division in-house through its purchase of a 51% stake in Ecom Express, an end-to-end logistics firm, to make ecommerce deliveries more efficient in the country. Walmart operates Flipkart in India and is set to continue its investment in the marketplace. In an effort to compete in the Indian ecommerce market, Meta has partnered with Indian ecommerce company, JioMart, to offer customers a grocery shopping platform within its WhatsApp chat feature. [Read more on Pymnts]( --- Other Ecommerce News --- Ecommerce in Spain worth €57.7 billion in 2021 Spanish ecommerce saw 11.7% growth compared to last year, largely attributed to cross-border sales. In the final quarter of 2021, ecommerce sales in Spain were at €16.9 billion euros, at least 60% of which came from cross-border sales. Transactions from foreign locations to Spain generated a turnover of €1.56 billion in Q4, a growth of 27.7% compared to Q4 a year before. [Read more on Ecommerce News](

Global Ecommerce: Weekly News (23rd August 2022)

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 23rd August 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon to add mental health support to primary-care service Amazon is set to move into mental health therapy with its primary-care division, following its recent acquisition deal of One Medical. The plan is to partner with virtual behavioural therapy service, Ginger, to offer its Amazon Care users with on-demand access to mental health services, licensed therapists and psychiatrists. [Read more on Charged Retail]( GMB union calls for £15 an hour minimum pay at UK Amazon warehouses Amazon recently offered its warehouse workers a 3% pay rise, which in comparison to the June inflation rate of 9.4% left employees disappointed. Following this, hundreds of Amazon warehouse workers stopped work last week, protesting against the minimal pay increase, seeking a minimum of £15 an hour. Recent protests consisting of employee walkouts and sit-ins aim to get a better offer out of Amazon. [Read more on The Guardian]( Amazon third-party sellers have received their first-ever holiday fee hike Amazon’s third-party marketplaces account for close to half of the company’s online sales. The company introduced a 5% fuel and inflation charge to its third-party sellers earlier this year, and has now implemented another inflation increase charge. Commencing 14 October, any seller who uses Amazon’s fulfilment service is subject to the price hike, which is set to be an additional 35 cents per item for products sold in the US and Canada. [Read more on Charged Retail]( Amazon puts a pause on UK grocery shop roll-out as the cost of living increases Amazon has slowed down on its UK roll-out of till-free Amazon Fresh grocery stores following disappointing sales and the rise in cost of living. Allegedly, the company is no longer looking for potential sites to expand and if more stores are opened, they will likely no longer use a till-free system, as consumers become more cautious about spending. [Read more on The Telegraph]( --- Other Marketplace News --- Shopee overtakes Alibaba across international markets Shopee has surpassed Alibaba and taken the top spot for sales outside of China. Singapore-based marketplace saw a year-on-year increase of 51.4% at the end of Q2 of this year, while Alibaba saw a 3% drop during the same time period. This can be seen as a promising development for start-ups and their ability to compete with some of the largest ecommerce giants in the market. [Read more on Exchange Wire]( H&M reopens its official store to Alibaba’s Tmall ecommerce platform It has been nearly 18 months since Alibaba removed H&M from its Tmall platform, following H&M’s criticism of human rights abuses in Xinjiang. It is estimated that over a million people, predominantly minorities in the area, have been unlawfully detained in camps across the city. Brands including Nike, Adidas, Burberry and Converse were swept up in the controversy, however H&M was one of the first to be targeted for speaking out about the issue. [Read more on Charged Retail]( Klarna launches new feature allowing UK consumers to view full online order history Buy-now-pay-later company, Klarna, has launched a new feature on its shopping app, which allows UK consumers to view their full online order history, regardless of whether they purchased the product using Klarna. The feature also shows delivery tracking and aids consumers in managing their online purchases more conveniently. [Read more on The Industry]( --- Other Ecommerce News --- Online marketplaces responsible for £280 billion business turnover in the UK Nearly 900,000 UK businesses are currently selling on online marketplaces, generating an estimated £282 billion worth of sales each year. This figure represents 6% of the UK’s annual business turnover, highlighting the notable contribution that marketplaces make to the UK economy, along with the potential for further growth in this area. [Read more on Charged Retail](