How to make e-commerce really work: Insights from our very own Ruth Holland
Everyone’s talking about e-commerce at the minute. And it’s not surprising.
According to Statista, e-commerce revenue is forecast to increase $1.4 trillion in 2017 to $2.1 trillion in 2018. The bad news? It's estimated that nearly one-third of all online purchases are returned. Further research suggests that up to 22% of these returns are due to products appearing differently in person than they do in the picture. This is where e-comm is falling short, but also where we can improve it, reduce returns and increase sales.
Studies have also shown that surface impact - how hard, soft, smooth or fluffy a product feels - influences our feelings and whether we buy. This is a problem for e-comm but good photography can change this by accurately picturing the details of products.
Today, e-comm is where big leaps in creative photography are currently being made, not to mention creative approaches to problems.
High-quality product images can not only boost sales but may also help you avoid returns from customers disappointed by the difference between the image and the actual product.
We sat down with Ruth, our head of Creative in London to talk about e-comm photography. We’re all curious about how brands can to stand out and increase their conversion rates.
So, what do you think’s interesting about the e-comm photography these days?
We’re seeing a new confidence in e-comm photography. Now, there’s a blur between campaign imagery and traditional e-commerce imagery.
Customers need to be confident about what they’re buying from an online image just as much as a campaign image. A customer isn’t just buying the product but the brand and the brand must be seamlessly represented across all media, but especially online. E-commerce photography is now on the same level of campaign imagery. This is really exciting.
Why do you love product photography?
Product photography is all about telling the brand story. High-quality photography represents a brand’s values and image. With a great photograph, we can show the care, creativity and craftsmanship that’s gone into each product and the brand as a whole. A great photograph also sells better than a simple cut-out image.
Give us an example of someone who’s done it right.
A company who has done great e-comm is 24 Sevres. They give virtual window displays with their photography. Customers then get the same attractive presentation online as at their famous Paris store. Their photography is either dynamic with movement or shows the clothes on mannequins like in the shop. By using the in-store shopping experience online, there is less of a distinction between online and bricks and mortar shopping. Online the customer can really get a sense of the brand without ever visiting a physical retail store.
Why does this new kind of photography work?
Customers need to be able to visualise a product properly - colour, texture, size. Showing items from different angles give this fuller experience like being in a shop. For us, it’s really about breaking down the boundaries between screen and customer with photography.
So, do you think brands should be nervous about e-comm sites like Amazon?
No, I don’t believe brands should be too nervous. Currently, Amazon lacks when it comes to the overall online shopping experience. At the moment it’s a one size fits all approach which alienates many savvy shoppers who expect imagery that is high-quality and unique to the brand. With online shopping, a big barrier for people is the difficulty of imagining themselves using a product.
How do we break down online barrier for customers?
With more dynamic, detailed imagery that highlights a product from many angles. Customers want to associate with the brand and have that emotional connection with it. This can be achieved with aspirational photography.
What do you do to make e-comm photography stand out from the crowd?
The standards of image quality are continually being raised across the market so brands increasingly need e-commerce imagery that sets them apart. Photography brings products to life. It changes them from static objects to living items that customers can imagine owning.
You’ve talked a lot about high-quality imagery so what do you think about video? Is it the ultimate moving photograph or does it have a different effect for e-comm?
When used effectively, video is a fantastic tool. We often suggest it to clients who want to elevate a specific product. It’s well known that videos increase conversion rates. The same can be said for more dynamic product photography. But I don’t think video will replace the need for e-comm photography. A mix of both is an ideal e-comm site.
Do you have any recent projects you can tell us about?
Recently, we’ve done projects with Cath Kidston, Tom Ford and Lipsy.
I also love the photography we did for Cambridge Satchel Company. We really enjoyed showing off the craftsmanship and detail of these products.