Neglecting Product Images – An Effective Way to Destroy an Online Shop

Mari Oksanen Written by Mari Oksanen - Apr 3, 2014

Online material is the main influencer in making an online purchase decision. The product images should therefore be high quality and they must introduce the characteristics of the product in detail. When, in addition to still images, moving image is also needed, the online merchant’s to-do list is suddenly full.

”High-quality product images provide a clear competitive advantage”

Sissos and Costo do not compromise on the quality of the images. We interviewed Turkka Toivola from Sissos and Anders Bengs from Costo regarding the topic.

Sissos has more than 10,000 active products. Even though a part of the images come from the suppliers of the products, there is work to be done with the image process every week. The idea is to have several pictures (4-5) of each product in the shop, so that the customer can see what they are buying. “High-quality product images are a clear competitive advantage for us,” states Turkka Toivola from Sissos.

Costo sells ecological accessories that it manufactures itself. There are 300 different products, and they are also available in different colours and patterns. In addition to product images, Costo also uses images for creating mental images and building the brand.

Managing the image process requires proper equipment and creative solutions

“We have our own studio and proper photography equipment. You simply can’t do it well for cheaper.” Sissos believes in quality, and the company has invested EUR 10,000-15,000 in their photography equipment. They have their own photographer. Costo also has their own studio, built in an office room. The basics can be found in the studio, such as lights and different kinds of backgrounds. Anders Bengs estimated the value of the photography equipment to be EUR 4,000-5,000. “Product images will be taken immediately when the new model items arrive."

Costo - kuvia ottavat tutut ja tuntemattomat ympäri maailmanIn terms of other pictures, Costo has created a phenomenon that allows for an affordable way to receive images also from abroad. “The theme is to photograph our hats worn by locals around the world.”

Costo’s personnel do not travel with a pile of hats, but the photographers are known and unknown people. “We have mentioned on Facebook, for example, that if you go on a trip, you can get a hat and photograph it on your trip, worn by a local. We use the images we receive depending on the quality.” This creative solution enables the continuous growth of an affordable and unique database.

The copyrights for product images stimulate discussion

“Competitors have used our pictures in their shops without permission. Luckily, we have been able to amend this situation with discussions,” explains Toivola from Sissos. “We don’t want to put a large watermark on the images, because we want the details to be clear. If we didn’t know our competitors personally, we might have to do this.”

The situation at Costo is different, because the products are their own. Bengs hopes that the photos will spread: “If somebody shares our images, it is good marketing for us. And if another online shop is selling our products, we want them to use our own images. This is how we ensure quality.”

Could the pictures be used also outside the shop?

Sissos’ and Costo’s customers have a completely different way of being online. Both companies are familiar with the idea of using the images where the customers are.

“Our customer base is a bit conservative, so there is no use for us to go rushing for diffeCosto - kuvia hyödynnetään verkossa monipuolisestirent channels with our photos. Facebook is the online channel that has proven useful, and the images are also used in printed advertisements,” says Turkka Toivola.

Costo’s customers are much more active online. The images are therefore used on websites, e-mails, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. The company encourages sharing the pictures: “You can, for example, pin all the products in our online shop.”

Tips from Costo and Sissos for online merchants

  1. Images sell. Don’t underestimate their importance.
  2. Good quality is not cheap. You should invest in photography equipment and premises.
  3. Photography requires expertise. If you don’t have the competence, you should outsource.
  4. Think about what kind of messages you want to send, what kind of ideas you want to generate with the images, and whether the images support your brand identity.
  5. Make sure that the colours look authentic in the pictures.
  6. It is important that the details of the products are visible.
  7. If you sell garments or apparel, you should take photos of someone wearing them.
  8. The importance of moving images is increasing. Consider e.g. Youtube, Vimeo, Vine or Instagram.
  9. If you don’t wish for others to use your pictures, you should protect them with a watermark, for example.

I believe that by investing in product images, also the return rate decreases: the product corresponds with expectations.

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