January 5, 2016, 2:41 PM

How to take photos and write product descriptions for e-commerce sites

Lighting, angles and consistency are crucial photos. Keep descriptions concise and tailor the tone to your customer.

Lead Photo

In e-commerce management, the way you present your products is everything. Nothing will turn an online shopper off faster than a bad photo and a poor (or non-existent) product description. But if you feature your product images right, and pair them with the right copy, your professional product presentation will make all the difference when it comes to converting online browsers into paying customers. As quoted in this helpful article from Kissmetrics’ blog, “Using the right images can boost your site’s conversions and get you to connect better with your target audience.”

Why is Presentation So Important in e-commerce?

Images and descriptions are so crucial in e-commerce merchandising because they are your customers’ only point of access to your products. In a brick and mortar retail clothing store for instance, customers can hold a garment, feel the fabric, and look at it up close from every angle. They can also try it on and ask questions of a sales associate. In e-commerce, all your customers have to go on is whatever information you choose to provide for them. And since nobody likes to buy a product they can’t see and know little to nothing about, the more visual and descriptive information you provide, the more likely you are to make a sale.

A good visual presentation also strengthens your brand and improves the overall shopping experience. Nobody likes to shop in a store that looks messy and disorganized, and the same goes for online businesses as well. A nicely organized gallery with professional looking photos communicates professionalism to your potential customers, and simply makes your site nicer to look at, which means customers will be more likely to stick around.

Best practices for product photos

Product images are the first things your customers see when they enter your online store, so make them count with the following tips:

  • Quality –If it’s in your budget, it will be best to hire a professional photographer with a good portfolio of high-quality product photos. However, if that’s financially out of the question, you can easily take matters into your own hands. Thanks to rapid advancements in photo technology, you can buy a really nice camera pretty cheaply these days. Shop around for the best camera you can afford and photograph your products in nice even lighting (you can find relatively inexpensive lighting equipment online too). I find that a nice, smooth white background is best for making your products stand out and look clean and luxe.
  • Zoom – What’s worse than when you click on a product thumbnail to get a closer look and the same tiny image pops up again in another tab? It’s enough to make me move on to another store just on principle alone! Again, your customers want to interact with your products as much as their computer, or smartphone screens will allow, which means that large high-resolution photos with an option to zoom in are an absolute must.
  • Alternate Angles/Views – Providing multiple angles and viewpoints is another great way to give your customers a better feel for the product. Since they can’t have an in-person experience with your product, it’s a good idea to show the product being used if possible. If it’s a garment, use a model to show how the product looks when worn. If it’s an accessory or gadget, show it in use so that customers can get a better feel for its size and functionality. This also goes for colors. If a product comes in multiple colors or colorways (color combinations), don’t just list them, show them.
  • Consistency – While it is important that your individual product photos are high quality, it’s also extremely important that they all work well together to create a smooth, clean-looking browsing experience when viewed as a gallery. This is why I strongly recommend hiring a photographer, or taking the photos yourself, rather than relying on images from the manufacturer. You want your images to be as uniform in size, shape, and general aesthetics as possible. Doing your own photos will ensure that you have creative control over the look and feel of your store, which is important for your branding, as well as creating a pleasing user experience.

Best practices for product descriptions

From improving search engine visibility, to boosting conversion rates, a little bit of quality product copy can go a long way. Here are some quick tips for creating good e-commerce copy:

  • Tone – Make sure you keep a consistent tone of voice throughout all of your copy. This is something that you should spend some time thinking about before you get down to writing (or hiring someone to do your writing as the case may be). Think of your content tone as the voice of your brand. If your brand were a person, what would they be like? How would they sound? This will depend on what you’re selling, and who you intend to sell to. For instance, if you’re selling baby toys, you might want to go for a cutesy, sentimental tone that appeals to new parents, if you’re selling medical supplies, it might be best to stick to a more professional, serious tone, etc.
  • Length – Your customers want information about your products, but they don’t want to spend hours reading about every technical detail (depending on the nature of the product of course). Try to keep your descriptions short and to the point. Two to three sentences packed with relevant information is all you really need, the images will do the rest of the talking.
  • Flow – If you can’t avoid going into great detail about your products, try to give your customers places to rest by breaking up your copy with headlines, bullet points, paragraph breaks and spacing.
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