Great photography is an essential part of any e-commerce website. It can improve user engagement, serve as a business USP and improve your SEO efforts. As world photography day has recently passed, I thought I’d shed some light on how photography can give e-commerce websites a competitive edge.
Limitations of E-commerce
Online shopping is growing in popularity as an alternative to conventional shopping. Last year, £114bn was spent by consumers online, with IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Indexpredicting an 11% growth this year.
But despite offering a lot of great advantages – like being able to shop any time of day and access more products at the click of a button – e-commerce has its limitations when it comes to user experience.
E-commerce shoppers lose the physical sensations experienced within the offline shopping environment. This is a major downfall of e-commerce, as customers can’t see or feel the item they’re thinking of buying (hence the growth in customer dependence on product related user-generated content).
Good e-commerce photography can bridge this gap. Having high-quality imagery of your products can give your customers a much better experience and encourage them to make a purchase.
Photography can also work alongside interactive on-site content. Giving your customers the ability to interact with imagery, enforcing the sensation of consumer empowerment.
Bugaboo, shown in the image above, do a great job of allowing customers to experience their products through high-quality photography, along with interactive digital content.
Their homepage strongly expresses the businesses products and their expertise, whilst translating a human essence to the website by incorporating context with the products they offer. Giving customers such a unique experience when shopping for such an ordinary item allows Bugaboo to charge a premium price on the products they sell.
Gain a competitive advantage through product photography
It can be difficult for smaller shops to compete with large retailers in the physical world. But online, the playing field is much more level, as any website can technically outperform another with the right strategies in place.
This is where great photography can give you a real advantage. If you’re selling the same or a similar product to your competitor, but your photography is of a higher quality and makes it easier for the customer to imagine the physical product, it’s likely to enjoy a higher conversion rate.
Larger retailers might be offering the same type of products, but won’t be able to offer the same level of in-depth knowledge and detail you can offer within your business’s niche. Express this through enriched on-site photography that lets customers understand that you’re a market expert within your field.
Bellroy, shown above, utilise on-site photography to thoroughly express the essence of both their business and product. The product range isn’t huge, but what they do emphasise is the level of expertise their business holds within their market. They juxtapose high-quality imagery with minimal stop motion video which enhances the customer experience and user understanding of their product. Providing a bespoke experience to your customers will enrich both on-site engagement and value perception.
Sourcing a photographer
Whether you’re hiring a freelancer, or taking it on as an in-house job, sourcing the right photography can be challenging.
Volusion put together a great poster, shown above, explaining the different factors concerning producing photography yourself, and outsourcing the work.
My understanding of on-site e-commerce imagery is that it should be high quality, consistent, and easily digestible. As long as these factors can be produced within your imagery by either doing it yourself or outsourcing, your e-commerce website should give your customers a good representation of your business, and the products you sell.
Photography for SEO
Optimising your on-site imagery can give you another angle to target potential customers.
Traffic doesn’t always solely derive from the conventional search engine results page, it can also derive from image searches, like this one shown below:
A lot of product searches are carried out through this channel, as some people may have an idea of what they are looking for, but not necessarily know the exact match product name. Unlike conventional search engine results pages, viewer’s don’t necessarily click the top ranking result. Instead, viewer’s browse through the list of images, then click on images they feel is relevant to what they are searching for.
Google image search has started to include shopping ads within their image results pages. This enforces the value of having a presence within image results pages as an e-commerce store. Getting a head start by having a strong organic image result presence early on will help you establish yourself in image SERP’s, as the inclusion of PPC campaigns will create a much more competitive environment within this search space.
Optimising your on-site imagery using relevant image names, titles and alt text will allow your images to be easily legible by search engines. Providing this information correctly will improve your image’s rankability for relative search terms within image result pages, giving your e-commerce website another avenue for gaining customers.
Taking the plunge
When incorporating photography on-site, make sure it expresses narrative about your business and the products you sell.
Creating static pages, whilst solely using imagery for literal representation of products will not exploit the medium to it’s full potential. Enrich the user experience by presenting users with an aesthetic website, with easily digestible imagery which translates both your purpose and offerings.
Lastly, utilise image SEO to improve your e-commerce website’s traffic avenues, as not all sessions derive from conventional search engine results pages!