How Important are Product Images?


You’ve got an e-commerce website, you have a physical product to sell – how do you approach photography and how much of a big deal is it?

We’ve delivered lots of e-commerce websites and have seen a few different approaches to product imagery. We thought it was worth expanding on the topic and discussing how we recommend handling these and where to focus your time.

Are they important?

Let’s get this out the way first, yes they are. Hugely so actually. In another recent blog we covered how writing high quality content for your site is absolutely essential and skipping this step is  real own-goal in terms of promoting your products and website. Images are equally, if not more important.

The culture of online shoppers is changing. There’s more choice and competition than ever before for anyone selling products online, so you have to work much harder to get eyes on your site and product catalogue. A key way in which this can be seen is the increased “laziness” of shoppers; they don’t have to work as hard to find what they’re looking for, so they don’t! Why should they sift through a badly organised product catalogue to find what they’re looking for when there are companies out there with highly targeted PPC campaigns to show them the exact item they’re looking for and spoon-feed them a method of purchasing said item.

How do product images fit into this?

Imagery is the first thing that people see of the product they buy, the product image is the focal point and first-step towards selling your customer the product. Here are some of the common mistakes that people make:

  • Not got an image for the product? Failed at the first hurdle, your customers will miss it.
  • Used a low quality image that doesn’t showcase the product? You’ve just failed to make this item look appealing and also given your customers the impression that you don’t care by publishing a poor photo.
  • Used a generic image for a non-generic item? People like to see what they’re buying more than ever before. Online shopping is used to replace visiting stores where visitors would have been able to inspect the products, Show them what they’re buying and give them the confidence to buy.
  • Stolen somebody else’s images? Aside from infringing on intellectual copyright and being generally uncool, you’ve failed to take advantage of the opportunity to make your images and service stand out.

Consistency is key

If you’ve got a store with 10 products this is probably quite easily done, you probably took all your photos at once / in the same place / using the same photographer. It’s a little more difficult when it comes to a product catalogue of 2,000 items.

What you’re looking to achieve is a library of product images that fit in with the theme of your site, match as closely as possible and using similar framing, backgrounds, style and angles. This can be the difference between your store looking polished and professional or like an online flea market.

Want to see this done well? 

Take a look at a couple of our customers:

Prints With Personality ( bold, colourful, vibrant and clear – this site shows how to do imagery on a larger store. There’s a huge range of products here but none of the ranges look out of place. They following a clear visual style and you can’t tell the difference between a brand new image, or an image from 2 years ago.

Outside The Box Joinery ( A tiny store with a handful of products, but look how the strong visual style carries through to all the products, and indeed site imagery. It’s dark, subtle and absolutely on-brand for the company. 

Wrapping up

Hopefully if you run a store, you read this and are still happy with the imagery you use to sell your products, if not then perhaps it’s time to take a look at this and make some improvements. Don’t sell yourself short, customers buy with their eyes and have higher standards / expectations than ever before.