The Importance of Product Photography and How to Do It on a Tight Budget

Any eCommerce store owner knows just how important images are for online selling. Even you as a consumer would probably base a huge bulk of your decision-making on product photos. After all, online shoppers can’t see the products with their own eyes, much less inspect them in their hands.

Not only are people naturally visual, but the sense of sight also plays a huge role in online shopping because customers can’t touch, smell, or even taste (for edible items) the products. Visual information is actually 90% of what’s transmitted to our brains.

Having an online store means you should also know what goes into product photography and what type of images would engage visitors and increase conversions.

Here are some important tips to keep in mind when doing product photography:

Choose the Right Background. 

Product photography only makes use of two backgrounds – plain white which allows the product to stand out, and a natural environment that shows the context of product use.

For instance, if you’re selling swimming attire, you can have photos of a swimsuit on a mannequin against a white background and also photos of it worn by someone at a beach or by a swimming pool.

When you use a white background, it enables customers to see and appreciate the product at a glance. And when you have in-context images, you give them ideas as to how the product will benefit them. These lifestyle photos are also good for social media use.

Provide Several Images in One Product Page. 

Don’t be content just putting up one or two images on each product page. It should be at least five, inclusive of both backgrounds described above.

If your store doesn’t have a zoom feature, then it’s crucial for you to include closeup photos as well as various views. Remember that every customer would want to view different sides because they want to feel as if they’re actually in a physical store examining the product in front of them.

Always Have Good Lighting. 

One important element that you should never take for granted or do without is lighting. For your images to appear professional, even if you’re just using your cellphone, you should make sure that sufficient lighting is present.

You can check out instructional videos online that will show you how to use ambient and artificial lighting for DIY product shoots.

If you can’t afford to hire a professional photographer, then you should learn these DIY techniques.  Pixelz has a great tutorial on how to set up your own studio which you can view here.

Boot-strapped photo studio courtesy of pixelz - click for a tutorial.
Boot-strapped photo studio courtesy of pixelz – click for a tutorial.

Set Up a Shooting Station with a White Background.

It’s easy to set up your own shooting station for your products. You can simply use a chair and then clip a roll of craft paper onto the top. Let the paper move down along the backrest and fold/sweep across the top of the actual seat as it follows the natural shape of the chair.

Improvise a Light Box or Light Tent. 

Instead of buying a lightbox, you can make your own. This is an open-front box with translucent sides that enable the even distribution of light around the object in the center.

To create one, just grab a plastic container box and take off the lid. Cover the bottom and sides with white paper to serve as diffusers. This will help get rid of unnecessary shadows.

If you can buy studio lights to place on each of the sides, then do it. If not, just place your light tent or box beside a big window.

Use the Proper, Fitting Surfaces for Products. 

The surface you use depends on the product you’re shooting. Oftentimes, you will have to have a flat surface that will not add any shadows or will not disturb the product you set up. For clothes, it’s best to use a mannequin or have a friend wear them. For jewelry, come up with a bust using cardboard.

Utilize a Makeshift Tripod or a Smartphone Stand. 

It’s vital to use a real tripod if you can afford one. These days, there are plenty of affordable tripods that can last you very long. But if you don’t have one, you may opt to place your digital camera or DSLR on top of a pile of books so you can have stabilized photos. This way, you can avoid blurry images.

If you’re using a smartphone, then use a mini tripod for cellphones or one of those inexpensive phone stands.

Use a Good Smartphone with a High Resolution Camera.

Nowadays, smartphones have become so common that you can actually get one with a good camera for a very affordable price. If you don’t know how to maneuver a professional DSLR, a smartphone camera is the best way to go about it. The images also have very high resolution and you won’t have to worry about manual settings.

Learn Basic Photo Editing Skills. 

No, it’s not really necessary for you to spend much time learning how to use Adobe Photoshop. There are much simpler photo editing software or mobile apps that you can avail for free, such as Canva, Pixlr, Fotor, and Snapseed.

In post-processing of images, you can adjust lighting or exposure, sharpen, crop out unnecessary things that may have been captured in your framing, and get rid of things you don’t want to include in the photo. For example, you can erase any signs of the mannequin, bust or stand so that only the product will be shown against a white background.

These simple tips will surely get you started on product photography for your eCommerce store. With trial and error, you’ll be able to come up with your own professional-looking images that can have a huge impact on your business.

Your Store Wizards – February 2020 Update

Scott SanfilippoFebruary is the month of love and what’s not to love in the ever-changing world of eCommerce? It’s also the time of year where many store owners have completed an analysis of the holiday shopping season and are planning ahead for the next one.

Here at Your Store Wizards, we’ve been getting more and more questions from our clients about moving platforms. Many feel that a redesign just isn’t what their store needs this year.

They’re looking for more.

Continue reading “Your Store Wizards – February 2020 Update”

Considering Changing eCommerce Platforms? Read this First.

The new year may have you thinking about making some changes with the way you operate your eCommerce business. The rush of the holidays provides a great insight into where you can look to improve.

From researching a new order management system or hiring more customer service reps, to choosing a better shipping software solution or even switching platforms your store runs on. All these and more are valid things you should be looking at to improve and streamline your operations in 2020.

Over the past several months, we have received many inquiries from our clients about one of the items I mentioned above – switching platforms. As you know, moving an eCommerce store from one platform to another is not a decision you should make without knowing all the pros and cons, and even then, it’s best to get your trusted developer partner’s insight as well.

At Your Store Wizards, our goal is to ensure that when you’ve made the decision to start the due diligence process, that you’re making the right choice for your business. We’ve migrated dozens of stores on many platforms including Yahoo! Small Business, BigCommerce, Shopify, Magento and more and are well versed in the pluses and minuses of each.

We’ve put together a list of Frequently Asked Questions about moving platforms that can help you start out in your preliminary research:

Why should I consider changing platforms?
There may be many reasons why a store owner may want to look into changing platforms. The most common is that their current platform lacks features that others offer, or features they are paying extra for may be included at no additional cost on another platform.

When this comes up as a reason, we always suggest reviewing your current site and make a list of “must-have” features that exist on your current site as well as a “wish list” of features you’d like but aren’t part of your site today.

Take those lists and compare the features to the platform(s) you’re considering and see whether or not they’re available and if there would be any cost savings.

Is it possible for me to “outgrow” my current platform?
Unless you’re Amazon, chances are you’ll never get to the point where you actually outgrow a particular eCommerce platform but some platforms are faster to innovate new ideas and technology.

Most modern platforms can handle any volume of orders and vast numbers of items, but you may outgrow its features or capabilities. It is very important to weigh the pros and cons of a new platform.

While switching platforms may open up new capabilities, are you ready for the learning curve?

Can I save money by moving to another platform?
Yes. And no. There are many different things to consider when it comes to platform costs. One platform may charge a low monthly fee and takes a percentage of each sale, while another has a higher monthly fee and no additional ones. Then there are some platforms that charge a monthly fee in addition to a fee for each item as well as bandwidth.

When considering a platform change, it’s best to review what you’re paying now and compare all the different pricing options for the platforms you’re considering – including any hidden fees that may not be disclosed upfront.

I’m tired of paying for 3rd party services in addition to my monthly platform fees. By moving somewhere else can I avoid that?
Probably not. Today’s popular eCommerce platforms offer hundreds if not thousands of add-on apps that are built by 3rd party developers, such as Your Store Wizards, that provide additional functionality that is not included out-of-the-box.

These 3rd party apps provide a great deal of value to store owners and their customers. By having 3rd party developers create these add-ons, the platform provider can focus on what they do best – making the base functionality of the cart rock stable and continually updated.

Some platforms rely more on 3rd party developers to create popular features like apps, while others build them into core functionality. If you’re concerned about costs and the number of 3rd party apps you will need for your store, be sure to have a discussion about this with your developer partner.

A competitor of mine just moved platforms and their store is now so much better than mine, I think I need to move as well.
Sometimes you have to keep up with the Jones’s, other times you don’t! Just because a competitor has moved to another platform doesn’t mean you have to in order to remain competitive.

Their sales and customer satisfaction may have increased after a platform change, but the opposite could have happened as well.

I’m afraid of moving platforms because I heard my SEO can take a hit.  Is that true?
This should not be a concern if it’s planned out and done right. In addition to planning out your new site’s design, you also need a plan in place to redirect pages if URLs are going to change. Your SEO will take a hit if you don’t redirect pages, but using a trusted developer partner you can rest assured that this will be part of the overall plan.

Is it expensive to move platforms?
Platform moves involve more than just a new design for your store. Costs for moving include that design and programming cost as well as a charge for data migration. Your developer is going to need to take all your data from your existing store (items, copy, orders, customers, etc) and put it into a format that can then be imported into your new store.

Depending on the size of the store, this can be quite time consuming and manual. While there may be some 3rd party tools to help with this data transfer, hours still need to be spent doing it as well as validating.

When coming up with an estimate, we look at the complete picture – data, custom programming/features, etc to come up with a price and how many hours we feel it will take to complete the project.

I’m seriously considering moving platforms, but my mind isn’t made up just yet. Can we talk?
Absolutely! We want to make sure that moving platforms is right for you. If after our conversation we feel that you’re best staying put, we’ll tell you. We’ll also try to address any concerns you have with your current platform and see if there are any solutions that can be implemented to alleviate them.

If we feel that a move is best for you, we’ll carefully analyze the pros and cons of each platform, and make a recommendation on what one you feel will benefit your business the most.

To schedule time to talk, simply fill out the form at the bottom of this page.

My mind is made up, I’m ready to move! What’s next?
If your mind is made up that 2020 is going to be the year to move platforms, it’s time to have a serious discussion. We want to make sure that moving platforms is the right decision. If it is, we then want to make sure that you’re moving to a platform that is going to be best for your business.

We have a fairly straight-forward process we engage in when clients come to us for a move:

      1. We review the current store for features, custom code, etc and ask you for those “must have’s” and “wish list” items.
      2. We review your backend data including items, copy, orders, customers, etc and determine how much time will be needed to manipulate the data for a successful transfer.
      3. We discuss your current platform and the various options you have and make a recommendation either to stay where you’re at or move to a specific platform that will fit your needs better.
      4. We provide you with a complete project scope, timeline, and straight-forward pricing for our services.
      5. If you agree to move forward, we will get to work designing mockups of your new site before our programmers get to work building.
      6. You’ll be involved in every step along the way through the design, build, data import, and SEO preservation process.

If you’re ready to have a discussion about moving platforms, even if you’re just curious as to whether a move is right for you or not, we’re here for you! Just fill out the form below and we’ll schedule as much time as you need to make sure you’re making the right decision.

Talk to us about moving platforms, we’re here to help!