I don’t care who you are, you need more photos on your site. (And not awful user-generated ones.)

October 15, 2017

I am writing today to try to impress on operators at all levels to up their game a little on product photos.

I have never seen a single online commerce site that had sufficient photographic content to satisfy me.

The titans like Amazon, Home Depot and Wal-Mart can’t get there because their assortments are these massive, seething, frothy oceans of products that are constantly changing and I don’t blame them for not trying all that hard. I’d probably try not to think about it either if I were in their place. I think the middle tier doesn’t consider it strategic enough, and the little guys are all focused on other things.

I am writing today to try to impress on operators at all levels to up their game a little on product photos.

Every year at Internet Retailer, there are half a dozen booths of companies hawking apparatus for rapidly photographing something from all angles. Go get one of those and find a co-op student to crank product through it for free. Then watermark the images, put them out there and watch your conversions soar. If you have fewer than 10,000 items in your assortment there is no legitimate reason not to do this.

Don’t just photograph the shiny products, either. Show me what I really get.

Start with the box. Are the contents in their own individual baggie? Oh, it comes with a power adapter, and a USB cable? That’s nice.

Oh, that shirt comes with an extra set of collar stays? Fantastic added value.

Oh, the earrings come in a velvet box? She’ll like that.

Other than just the raw user-experience benefits and the I-now-know-what-I’m-getting buyer-confidence boost, this can have broader advantages as well. If you have a dozen high resolution images hanging off a page with a long description of each of your products, Google Images is going to eat your site up. Suddenly every comparison shopper in the world interested in your widget is going to see your photos in Google’s Image Results callout right there between results seven and eight. At no cost to you.

Last but not least, do not attempt to cut corners by encouraging your users and customers to submit their own product photos. Beyond the obvious logistical hassles, have you ever seen a customer photo that actually looked good? That made you want to buy the product more? NOPE. User-generated photos invariably feature items soaked in finger smudges and shot on heinous 80s-era Formica counters that somehow manage to simultaneously look dirty while still reflecting the camera flash, all with sadly non-ironic faux-wood paneling in the background. No thank you.

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