May 26, 2011, 11:08 AM

How Columbia Sportswear makes its photos look great on many devices

The company resizes its photo library so each photo can render 30 different ways.

Lead Photo

For fans of Columbia Sportswear apparel and footwear, a change in the season may mean it’s time for a new outdoor adventure, but for the manufacturer and retailer’s e-commerce team it means having upward of 40,000 new product images of its latest goods ready for use on its e-retail site, mobile site, interactive retail store window displays and in-store kiosks.

With each retail channel having its own image requirements, Columbia Sportswear needs to size each of those 40,000 images—which the company takes at its own photo studio—30 ways. To save time and simplify the process, the company uses Adobe Scene7 tools to take a raw image file and make it usable across all consumer touch points. The retailer says using the tools helps it save 200 employee hours each season that would otherwise be spent editing and reformatting files by hand, which is what Columbia staff did prior to implementing Scene7 in 2009.

The time savings and the flexibility of the tools help the company create a richer user experience for customers interacting with the brand, says Garrett Gonzales, e-commerce creative manager.

Gonzales describes one such as asset, the interactive retail store window displays at Columbia’s 50 bricks-and-mortar stores. They display information and images about Columbia’s products every hour of the day so consumers can interact with products even when retail stores are closed. “These tools give us the ability to create visual assets that can be used in unique ways in our store space,” he says. “Passersby can look at a series of products we are highlighting in a fun display.”

The ability to take one raw photo file and optimize it across sales channels also helps to make the user experience more consistent. For example, if a consumer accesses the e-retail site via mobile phone or tablet, the photos size and render according to Columbia’s specifications for the device used. The Adobe Scene7 tools also let mobile consumers zoom and rotate images the same way they could if they accessed Columbia’s web site from a PC. “We want to provide all the information in as many ways as possible in the ways consumers want it,” Gonzalez says. “The flexibility of our photo assets allows us to do that.”

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