5 Tips for Great E-Commerce Product Photos

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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E-Commerce Product Categories: How to Best Merchandise Your Products

One of the most common situations my clients deal with is determining the best product categories for their e-commerce website. This is especially true for startups or new companies who aren’t as well-versed in e-commerce strategy or design. The following is a modified excerpt from my ebook E-Commerce for Everyone: How to Launch a Successful Online Store Using Bigcommerce (or Other Hosted Platforms), which outlines possible categorization strategies you can use to help shoppers find products and increase your conversion rate.

The importance of effective product categories and navigation cannot be overstated. After all, if shoppers can’t find the products they want to buy, they’re not going to buy them – at least not on your website. To further complicate things, not all shoppers navigate the same way or have the same needs. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to provide a variety of category options so that all types of shoppers will be able to quickly locate and purchase the products they want.

Hierarchical Type Categories

The most essential way to merchandise your products is by their product type in a hierarchical manner. This means you’ll have a set of broad main product categories with one or two levels of subcategories below – the lower the category in the hierarchy, the more specific it will be.

For example, a furniture store might set up categories by room. But within each room, a shopper will need to narrow the results by a more specific product type. So in a Bedroom Furniture category, a store owner might create subcategories for Night Stands, Dressers, Armoires and Beds. Within Beds might be Bed Frames, Headboards and Mattresses.

These are the most common type of product categories and are therefore likely to be expected by your website’s visitors.

Attribute-Based Categories

If many of your products have features in common, it’s worth setting up attribute-based product categories. This method of organization cuts across Type categories and may appeal to a more style-focused or feature-focused shopper. For example, an online store selling video games that are already categorized by genre (type) may also want to offer categories based on operating system or platform. A television retailer should consider offering categories based on features like resolution, size or number of HDMI inputs.

Think about the attributes that are important to your customers and expose them as navigational elements through categories.

Function-Based Categories

It’s safe to assume that people are shopping your website because they need an item in order to do something. This could be anything from cooking a meal to celebrating an anniversary. If there are functional or occasion-based ways to categorize your products and you think they might be helpful to shoppers, there’s no reason not to offer them. For example a kitchenware store might offer product categories by cooking type, such as Mixing, Chopping, Baking or Grilling. Alternately, a gift shop should offer categories based on occasion.

Organizing Product Categories

When organizing your product categories, make sure they aren’t too broad or too specific. It’s frustrating for shoppers to navigate categories with hundreds of products while others have only a handful of products. Look at the initial list of items you’ll be offering and organize your categories so that each one has a manageable number of products that can be easily browsed.

Category names are also important. By using descriptive and recognizable category names, your visitors will quickly be able to determine where to find the product they want. To decide on the best category names, use tools like Google Trends or the Google Keyword Tool to see what people are searching for online. Using highly-searches phrases as category names will help your SEO and make the shopping experience more efficient for visitors.

Whenever possible, list your product categories either alphabetically or by order of broadest to most specific. Don’t put them in a seemingly random sequence and make your shoppers hunt for them.

Found this post helpful? You can download my entire ebook for Kindle here.

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5 More Ways to Increase Conversion Rates

Last week I gave you some sure-fire tips for improving sales with my post 5 Ways to Increase Conversion on Your E-Commerce Website. If you’re looking for more ways to ring the register, here are five more things that will help increase conversion rates for e-commerce websites.

Streamline Checkout

BigCommerce released a new optimized version of checkout a few months ago. Initial results have shown the new checkout to increase conversion rates thanks to its simplified, one-page design. I recommend giving this new checkout a try if your payment gateway is supported.

Upgrade Your Product Reviews

Shoppers love reviews, and store owners know positive reviews can increase conversion rates, but most built-in review systems are fairly basic. I’ve been using Yotpo for a few clients and highly recommend their advanced review platform. Yotpo allows photo uploads, rating of reviews (helpful or not), social media sharing and you can add on Product Q&A to let customers help each other (reducing email and phone questions to you). Yotpo also has a cool social media integration which will publish reviews as ads on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. If you’re interested in learning more or seeing examples, schedule a free demo. You can also read my recent blog post about Yotpo, which goes into more detail about all their features.

Get a Professional Email Address

Are you still using an old AOL, Yahoo or personal Gmail account to communicate with customers? Don’t give shoppers pause by making them think you’re a mom-and-pop shop running out of your garage (even if you are). G Suite, formerly Google Apps, is an affordable way to get a domain-based email address for yourself and your employees. Plus, it comes with online storage, collaboration tools and more.

Do a Site Audit

If you’re like me, you are so busy day-to-day that you hardly spend any time looking at your website. Take an afternoon and go through your website as if you were a first time shopper. Has your design become cluttered or messy after lots of small changes? Do some pages have different size or color text? Could your product descriptions or policy pages use a rewrite? Forget what you know about your store and really think about the impression it makes to strangers. Then make a plan to tackle any issues you find. If you don’t have time to do this yourself, contact us about our website review service.

Go Responsive

If you’re still on a template that uses a separate mobile theme, you are missing out on sales. Responsive themes (designs that adapt to all possible screen sizes) increase conversion rates because they provide a better, more consistent experience for shoppers using any type of device (including those who shop your store on multiple devices). BigCommerce, SparkPay and 3dCart all offer responsive themes that will take your e-commerce website to the next level in terms of mobile-friendliness. If you want help customizing one of their base themes, contact us for a quote.

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Recognizing International Women’s Day and Day Without A Woman

On International Women’s Day, we  stand in solidarity with women around the world struggling for basic human rights, reproductive rights and equal pay. As a woman-owned business, we support all women who seek a better life free of discrimination, violence and job insecurity.

As part of the Day Without a Woman movement, we will be closed for business today, March 8, 2017.

Additionally, we will be offering one hour of free website or e-commerce consulting to women-owned companies now through the end of March. Please contact us by March 31 to book your free session.

Thank you for supporting women-owned businesses and gender equality.



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5 Ways to Increase Conversion on Your E-Commerce Website

First quarter is a great time to think about how to maximize sales in the new year. Here are 10 things you can do now to increase conversion and revenue in 2017.

Create a Marketing/Promotions Calendar

Now is the time to map out your store banners, marketing messages and promotions for the year. With a simple marketing calendar, you can plan weekly or monthly homepage banner updates, seasonal sales and topics for your social media and email marketing. I’ve found marketing calendars keep me focused and reduce stress because things are less likely to sneak up on me! Having consistency in your brand’s messaging means shoppers will see important promotions more often and repetition is known to help increase conversion.

Switch to Sitewide HTTPS

BigCommerce recently made sitewide HTTPS available to stores on all plans. By having your entire website on HTTPS (secure), shoppers will be more confident to purchase from your store, ultimately leading to an increase in conversion. In addition, Google is now starting to rank websites with sitewide HTTPS higher than those without.

Add Live Chat to Your Store

When shoppers have questions, most won’t bother to call or email you. By installing a live chat feature on your website, you can be instantly available to answer questions and help close the sale. Live chat is affordable and can be used as a general contact form when you’re not available to be online. My personal favorite is OLark, which allows you to see visitor behavior, create rules for when to initiate chats, customize the chat box and more. They are pre-integrated with Bigcommerce so it’s quick and easy to install the app, plus you can try it free for 14 days.

Activate Apple Pay and Amazon Payments

A great way to boost customer confidence and reduce their concern about shopping with a new store is be offering payment methods they already use. Shoppers who have Apple Pay or Amazon accounts can also checkout faster (since they don’t need to enter their payment information) and reducing barriers to checkout helps increase conversion. Depending on your current payment gateway, you may be able to activate one or both of these options in your online store.

Offer Toll-Free Customer Service

Even with long distance included on most phone plans these days, shoppers still prefer to call companies toll-free. Having easy, toll-free support reduces shopper anxiety and is likely to increase conversion. Getting a toll-free number is quite affordable and you can even choose a vanity number that spells out a word related to your brand or products. I personally use FreedomVoice and highly recommend it. Beyond the toll-free number, they allow you to route calls to your mobile phone during set hours so you can always be available for customers without having to list your personal phone number on your website. Plans start at just $9.95 a month and you can try it free for 30 days.

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