5 Tips for Great E-Commerce Product Photos

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that if you click a link and purchase a service, I may receive compensation for referring you. However, all opinions expressed in this post are my own and based on my personal experiences with any mentioned products and services.

In a retail store, customers can see products up close to better understand their quality and materials. But online, you have to rely on photos to make up for the fact that shoppers can’t touch or feel your products in person. Good e-commerce photography can make all the difference when it comes to converting shoppers to buyers. Here are five tips for making sure your online store’s product photos really sell.

Be Consistent

There are two main styles of product photography. The first involves displaying only the product on a white (most common) or colored background. The second type of product photography is lifestyle-oriented. These photographs typically display the product in its intended setting. Before starting photography, decide on one of these two types and stick with it. Consistency will make it easier for new visitors to “get” your website and contribute to how they view your brand. It will also make your product photos easier to scan on category and search pages.

Size Appropriately

If possible, you’ll want to use large photos that give shoppers plenty of detail and allow them to zoom in. But you don’t want your images to be so large that they load slowly. Therefore, I recommend making the longest side of your photos (height on a vertical image, width on a horizontal image) at least 500 pixels. If you can make them 1000 pixels, that’s even better, but don’t go much larger to avoid slow loading.

Get Oriented

When it comes to orientation, it’s best to be consistent when possible. A list of all horizontal images will just look better than a mish-mosh of some vertical, some horizontal and some square. And unless your products really only lend themselves to one orientation (such as apparel, which often uses vertical photos), I recommend using a photo editor to crop them all to a square shape. This will allow you to center each image nicely on category listings, search results and product pages.

Show Multiple Angles

Informative e-commerce websites will show multiple photos per product – a main image followed by alternate views. You main product photo will be the first representation your shoppers see, so you may want to pick one that shows the whole product. Use alternate images to show different angles (like a dress from the back), close-ups of product details (such as wood grain on a table) or the product in use (such as a cabinet with its doors open). But, keep in mind that shoppers might now scroll through through all of your photos. Therefore, order your product photos from most to least important, thinking about what information will be necessary for your visitors to make a purchase decision.

Use the Right File Type

In general, your product photos should be JPGs. This is the most common file type for photographs and will result in the sharpest, clearest result. If using a photo editor, make sure you are saving the photograph “for the web,” so that it is the appropriate file size for website usage. Non-web JPGs have a higher resolution and larger file size because they are typically for other mediums like print, but their super-high quality is not necessary for the web and can result in lengthy load times.

If your photos will have text of any sort, save your JPGs at a slightly higher compression or quality level to ensure the text doesn’t look blurry or pixilated. If you have an image that is only text or non-photographic imagery, you may want to use a PNG or GIF format, which will more show text more sharply. For images with transparent backgrounds, always use the PNG format.

This post was adapted from my ebook E-Commerce for Everyone: How to Launch a Successful Online Store Using Bigcommerce (or Other Hosted Platforms), available on Amazon.com.

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