Rachel Jacobs – The BigCommerce Blog https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog Ecommerce Blog delivering news, strategy and success stories to power 2x growth for scaling brands. Wed, 14 Mar 2018 19:41:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/cropped-e8d7fa0a-3b0e-4069-91b1-78460a4d4af1-150x150.png Rachel Jacobs – The BigCommerce Blog https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog 32 32 How 29 Sites Built the Perfect Ecommerce Product Pages (Best Practices & Examples You Can Steal) https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/product-page-examples/ https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/product-page-examples/#comments Tue, 20 Feb 2018 15:00:12 +0000 https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/?p=23984 It’s official. Mobile commerce is on the rise (and not just browsing, but actual conversions) Google is getting more serious…]]>

It’s official.

  • Mobile commerce is on the rise (and not just browsing, but actual conversions)
  • Google is getting more serious about their mobile algorithm, separating it from it’s desktop version to account for mobile consumer habits and preferences
  • Webstores are officially storytelling complements to Amazon, where price and convenience reign.

These 3 factors all mean one thing:

Your product page is the most important page on your site.

Build your product page effectively and both your traffic and conversions will skyrocket.

Fail to do so, and almost all your marketing and advertising efforts will fall short of goal.

This is risky business – and it’s the same business that digital marketers building landing pages have long been grappling with.

Your product page is now a landing page – at least in function.

This means it needs to (in order of importance):

  • Use psychological triggers to convince browsers to add to cart
  • Grab consumer attention immediately to the add to cart button
  • Fully explain both the product and the company (after all, consumers are bypassing your homepage)
  • Build trust in the product and company, often through social proof
  • Upsell or resell to increase AOV

There are a variety of ways to do each one of these, and we’ll focus on each section below and show you examples of how folks are turning their ecommerce product pages into landing pages.

The key is to focus on these 3 best practices:

  1. Keeping your product page focused on the product and consistent with your brand
  2. Boosting your customers’ loyalty and confidence
  3. Inspiring customers to become promoters of your brand.

The bottom line is that the quality of your product page — its visual elements, content, and navigation—has the power to make or break your store.

Let’s dive in.

The Anatomy of a Perfect Product Page

Product pages are ubiquitous. They are an industry standard –– a best practice, if you will.

Browse any online store and the multitude of components typical of product pages are recognizable on nearly every site you visit.

And that’s because, as the Baymard Institute so elegantly puts it:

It’s often on the product page where users make up their mind on whether or not they want to purchase the featured product.

This makes the product page layout, product page design, and features, the centerpiece of the user’s ecommerce experience.

At the same time, the product page layout and features are under a lot of strain as they’re largely a template reused for almost every single product on the site.

So, the question becomes:

How do you create a high quality user experience on a single ecommerce product page that you can easily replicate across your entire catalog?

7 Ecommerce Product Page Best Practices

Well, first you make sure that you have all the necessary elements of a product page to begin with.

From there, you can update and optimize.

Here are the 7 product page requirements:

  • Feature image
  • Gallery or product photos
  • Product overview, including title, price, features, CTA and customization options.
  • Product description.
  • Social proof, including review and ratings.
  • Similar product suggestions (upsell and cross sell).
  • Human interaction for any help or guidance needed.

Let’s walk through what each one of these are before we dive into examples.

1. Feature Image.

The single most important element of ecommerce product page design is your feature image.

This is an eye-level, mid- to long-shot that showcases your product.

Just imagine what an ecommerce product page would look like with a poorly lit and pixelated image, or even without one at all!

Would you trust a store that failed to properly photograph their products?

Your feature image can excite visitors or turn them away as it forms their first impression and helps them decide whether to look further.

Your best bet is a polished, perfectly centered product image with a white or light background and soft or no shadows.

You’ll also be able to use this image on Amazon in the case you sell your product on that marketplace. In other words, two birds, one stone.

Take a look at Stormy Kromer’s product image below. It is clean. It is large (you can zoom in on it). It looks like it is worth the price.

Beyond the feature image, the product page must convince the browser of the item’s value.

2. Gallery of product photos.

If your feature image successfully wins over your visitors, the next thing they are most likely to do is browse your image gallery.

Galleries are another important aspect of ecommerce product page design. Ideally, you will have about a dozen images in such a gallery, most of them clean-cut, like your feature image, and showing your product from all relevant angles.

It’s also good to include at least one or two in-context or lifestyle images to invite an emotional response from your customers.

You can even add a 360-degree shot, too, that engages consumers even more or a video that conveys other information or answers customers’ questions.

Do you need a dozen extra images?

No. You only need enough images to allow consumers to better visualize your products –– especially the details.

Other than paying for shipping, not being able to touch or feel, or try out, a product is the most hated aspect of online shopping.

If you can solve for that with only a few images, more power to you.

Here’s a great example by Solillas, where they have 4 total images:

3. Title and overview.

Beyond the images, your product page needs to give high-level information of the product right off the bat.

That information includes:

  • Product title.
  • Price.
  • Features and components.
  • CTA.
  • Customization options.

Ideally, all of this information lives above the fold. That isn’t always possible (in fact, it is rarely possible).

Many brands make up for this with aesthetics.

Instead of using heavy text for an overview (this is *not* the description), they use colors, fonts and icons.

Let’s look at a couple examples.

Ethel’s Baking

Ethel’s Baking nails the product image (yum!). Beyond that, the product overview information is clean, branded and clear.

Here is what they do well:

  • Use of iconography to highlight important and differentiated product information (in this case, gluten free)
  • Branded font as a way to bolster the brand even on a product page (where users may not have even seen the homepage)
  • Review visibility in the form of stars (more use of iconography). This helps to build trust.
  • Customization options up-front.


There’s so much that goes into ecommerce product page optimizations, including things like product focus, great images, copy quality, product reviews, button placement, access to important information, etc.

The list goes on and on.

My #1 piece of advice is to focus on aspects of your product page that instills trust while diminishing anxiety. These usually come in the form of reviews, shipping, return policies, etc.

— David Feng, Co-Founder and Head of Product, Reamaze

Hook & Albert

Hook & Albert does a great job with their overview section as well.

In fact, later, we’ll look at their entire product page as a great example of a landing page.

Here is what they do well:

  • Beautiful imagery up-front, showcasing packing needs in image #2 that is vital to understand for the buyer
  • Limited time offer call out to increase conversion
  • Review visibility in the form of stars (more use of iconography). This helps to build trust.
  • Need to know specs information before the fold (AKA without having to scroll)
  • Chat option.


Now let’s look at an example that goes a bit more minialstic in an effort to address the brand’s specific audience.

FLOS’s products come at a higher price point, meaning there is a longer buying funnel in general.

To push consumers to purchase, they must include information that helps to visualize the product in their space as well as communicate value.

Here’s how they do it:

  • Multiple product-solo and lifestyle product images
  • Designer call out to speak to the value prop
  • Clear customization options available
  • Dimensional sizing charts to help consumers visualize the item in their space
  • Chat option.

All right – after you get your product overview accomplished, now it’s time to really drive home your product page SEO capture any lingerers.

To do that, you need unique product descriptions.

4. Unique product descriptions.

Product pages are the most important part of your store, not just because they inform customers about your products and entice them to buy from you.

They are important also because great product pages help with your search engine rankings and bring in more customers in the first place.

Improving your product pages is one of the easiest things you can do to improve your sales, and all it takes is a bit of time.

Here is what you need to create highly ranked product pages:

  • Unique product description
  • Product videos
  • Social proof (which we’ll cover in the next section).

Unique product description

Writing a unique product description can be challenging.

After all, it’s hard to measure how well copy is doing at converting someone. It’s more of an assist than the player making the goal.

That said, writing product descriptions that are both optimized for your product page keyword (typically your title) as well as speaks to your branding is the goal.

To do that:

  • Use Google to search for your keyword. Take a look at your competition’s product pages. Your goal is to make yours better.
  • Use bullet points and graphics to get information but boring to read informational across.

Let’s look at a couple examples.

Subzero Superfoods

Subzero Superfoods does a fantastic job on their product pages. Beyond having great product photography, they turn their product description into a true journey.

How do they do it?

  • Use iconography to quickly showcase important product features
  • Include directions or recipes if relevant for your product (how to put it together, etc.)
  • Be fun in your product copy –– if that’s in your brand’s standards.
  • Include images and showcase what else is included in the product. This helps to prove out value.


Maybe you’re thinking right now:

I have way too many SKUs to get that detailed about every single product.

That’s a fair thought.

Let’s look at an example of brand that also have thousands of SKUs and how they manage their product descriptions effectively: Marucci.

Here is how they do it:

  • Keep the product descriptions short and sweet.
  • Use additional photography to draw the eye to the information.
  • Include relevant, must-know info including specs, etc.
  • Link off to additional product information on the blog to increase site interlinking and SEO.

And while unique product descriptions are necessary, there’s one more factor to the product description game that will help increase your search rankings and your conversions.. And that’s product video.

Product Video

Videos are a fantastic way to show off your products and make your shoppers feel like they’re getting an in-person demo.

Remember, the #2 most hated aspect of online shopping is the inability to touch or try the product.

Video can help solve for this.

Even better, videos will drive more people to your pages thanks to better search results, then help convert them once they’re there.

Chew on these:

Why do videos increase search results?

Google uses a number of factors when ranking any given page.

Video is helpful because:

  • Video results in a click on your page (to play the video) meaning a signal of engagement to the algorithms.
  • Videos result in longer time spent on page due to the length of a video (keep them short!), meaning a signal of engagement to the algorithms.
  • Also, Google owns YouTube and rewards the use of it.

So adding videos to your product pages can help you in every aspect of the online sales cycle.

Product videos engage your users more, meaning they’ll spend more time on your site (increased page stickiness).

Great. So videos are a major benefit to your store, but how do you get your hands on them?

If you have product demos from the product manufacturer, that’s better than nothing.

But the best solution is to make them yourself.

Not only do you get to fully control the content of your video, but it’s better for your search results if you’re putting out unique content rather than just adding something everyone else has.

How to Make an Ecommerce Product Video:

If you’re not a professional videographer (few are), it may seem a little intimidating to shoot your own product videos.

Thanks to the glut of cheap cameras and easy-to-use editing software on the market, it’s actually pretty easy.

No matter if you are just starting up or are managing the ecommerce site or aspects of it for a multi-million dollar brands: you can start making and testing product videos right now.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Start with a script. Know what you’re going to say so you aren’t tripping over your own words. You don’t have to stick to the script exactly, but just have some talking points to help keep you on track. Make sure they include the key differentiators of the product.
  • Keep it short. In studies, some of the best performing videos are 30 seconds or less in length. And going over three minutes means performance plummets. Just keep in mind that attention spans online are even shorter than normal.
  • Show and tell. Take full advantage of the medium by showing the product in action, not just standing beside it and listing the features. When you mention a feature, show how it works.
  • Act natural. Not everyone is comfortable on camera, but you want to appear as natural as possible to set the right tone. Think of it as having a conversation with your customers, just like you would if you were showing them a product in person.

Let’s look at a few examples.

Giant Teddy

Giant Teddy makes great use of time by turning their product photo shoots into opportunities for product videos as well.

Given that for Giant Teddy, the size of the item in relation to other things is the most important aspect to get across, they can cut a short 45 second video with the photographer to showcase that feature.

Check out the video below and the product page here.


Kodak takes the idea of including a product video to the next level – using 4.

Then again, Kodak is hitting the ecommerce market hard. Their entire site experience is exceptional – with a WordPress front end for SEO and unlimited customization and BigCommerce for the checkout functionality to offset PCI compliance concerns and inventory management.

But, for today, let’s just focus on their product videos. You can see how they are laid out below.

See the entire page here.

Rand McNally

Rand McNally hits in the middle here. They produce videos specifically for their product pages,

This is especially effective if you can manage it. Rand McNally produces a small number of products, so they have the opportunity to make each one impactful.

See the video below to describe their GPS product here.

Pro Tip

While writing product descriptions is nobody’s favorite task, getting them right is essential.

If you are short on hours in the day, try a platform like Automated Insights that uses AI and machine learning to help you create your product description in half the time.

Though automated programs can save you a lot of time, make sure you give their results at least two rounds of edits by an actual person. Make them catchy and memorable, ensure that they tell a story, and pack them with all the info customers are looking for.

5. Reviews and ratings.

Product reviews build trust, and that trust increases conversion.

More than 80% of consumers consult reviews when making a purchase, and adding them to your site can help lift sales by as much as 18%.

In fact, reviews aren’t just helpful in increasing conversions.

They are a new and necessary aspect of our online shopping lives.

Research have found that social media impact on how we perceive a stranger’s recommendation has altered historic beliefs and assumptions.

In the International Journal of Market Research, M. Nick Hajili wrote:

“Trust, encouraged by social media, significantly affects intention to buy. Therefore, trust has a significant role in ecommerce by directly influencing intention to buy and indirectly influencing perceived usefulness.”

Drum all that up to mean one thing:

You need social proof on your product pages.

Let’s check out a few examples.


You need to build more trust with your audience.

I continually see ecommerce sites that put very little energy into making their product pages look better than just a generic page with no social proof.

Obviously you want to make it easy for the buyer to buy the product, but you don’t necessarily want a empty page.

Displaying reviews below the product and testimonials from major magazines or other outlets can be incredibly effective at building trust.

Overall, it’s important to provide real evidence that your ecommerce store is more than just another generic site.

– Daniel Wallock, Marketing Strategist, Wallock Media

Paul Mitchell

Adding social proof and product reviews to your page can take many forms.

Clearly it must include actual reviews.

But most sites already do that.

So, what can you do to take it to the next level? That’s where this example from Paul Mitchell comes in.

They’ve added respected third-party awards to the product page to help seal the social proof deal.

Two Leaves

Two Leaves, like Paul Mitchell, also allows for customer reviews.

On this particular product, there are more than 50 of them.

But, they also do something few others brands do – they humanize their employees and use their preferences (after all, we all have taste buds!) to highlight staff favorites.


You’ll notice in the example above that Two Leaves also formats their reviews a little differently than usual.

Let’s take that to the extreme.

MountainCrest uses a tool called RivetWorks to source product photos and reviews at the same time.

This gets them plenty of images they can use on their site and social media, along with the reviews and visuals for them to help sell their products.

See the full product page here.

6. Similar product suggestions.

Take a look at Sierra Designs’ impressive Related Products section.

It is clean, large enough to be noticed, and located below everything else so it’s not obtrusive.

These product suggestions are another layer to your on-site strategy that helps you further engage and delight your visitors with items that can complement their selection.

All product pages on your site are customizable in this aspect. Here is how you set up recommended or related products.

You essentially have 3 options. You can use one, none or all of them.

  1. Customers also viewed: These show up on the product page. It follows this logic: Customers who viewed this product also viewed these products. [photo]
  2. Related products: This also shows up on the product page, and can be manually set. It follow this logic: Products with similar names or descriptions; can also be set manually. [photo]
  3. You may also like: This is a pop-up after a customer adds an item to the cart. It follows this logic: Products that are similar based on name and description. [photo]

You can also market similar products via hard coding, apps, pop-ups, or even chatbots that serve as personal shopping assistants.

And don’t forget about using data to serve the right upsells and cross-sells at the right time.

If you are using BigCommerce Insights, you can use the Frequently Bought Together report to see which items make the most sense to upsell customers to.

6. Customization options.

If you’re offering items in different size and colors, make it seamless for customers to customize their selected product.

This is called hyper-personalization, and it’s one of the most popular ecommerce marketing tactics of the year.

Place easy-to-use customization options on your sidebar or another place, where they are clearly visible.

Every interaction counts, and the shorter and smoother each option is, the more likely customers will make a purchase.

What’s more is that you can add in conditional logic.

Let’s look at a few examples.

Andie Swim

Andie Swim allows customers to add on logos, initials and more to their swimsuits.

Check it out below:

They set this up using product options.

In total, they have 7 product options deployed – 2 conditional.  


Marucci clearly does their product pages very well. Second mention in this article!

Beyond their typical product pages, they also have a customized product section.

See the experience below:

How many product options did you see? 14 – 1 of which using conditional logic!

And that one using conditional logic is actually an upsell. 


BonBonBon has mastered the art of hyper-personalization.

You can go to their site today, and order any combination of any number of BonBons that you want.

No kidding.

And – they didn’t use product sets to do this. They used plain and simple SKUs.

That’s right. Every possible box combination is entered on the backend as a SKU (hidden from customers typically). That’s how they can serve up the “price point in mind” feature.

Setup Hyper-Personalization On Your Site Now

On BigCommerce? Product options are out of the box. Follow the video below or the link here to set them up.

7. Human interaction and FAQs.

Finally, be sure to provide links to any additional information your site visitors might be looking for.

For example, include a clear link to your returns and exchanges policy page as well as to a frequently updated FAQs page that can answer any outstanding questions.

Our Pampered Home does this well. See their product page here.

You can even go a step further and install a chatbot that answers common questions.

You don’t want visitors to navigate away from your page by searching for more info on Google. If that happens, you have not done your job.

Coast New Zealand does this well, offering important informational based on data points. In this example, my IP address is coming in from the U.S. So, I get an international message.

Product Page Optimization

All of this work put into your product page is important for conversions. But, you want to make sure that it drives increased organic traffic over time, too.

More free traffic. More conversions. That’s a winning strategy.

Let’s look at how to do it.

1. Stay on top of your SEO.

SEO is the most affordable long-term strategy to sustainably generate leads, and you should always keep it in mind when building and promoting your product pages.

Keep in mind that your product page speaks to both people and search engines, so research your keywords well to get key-phrase ideas and enrich your SEO.

Below is an example of how different key phrases related to “pink shoes” compare according to data from Semrush.

Source: Semrush

Your product copy should be informative and memorable while also keeping SEO in mind and including the relevant keywords you have researched.

Likewise, invest time in optimizing your metadata both for your page in general and your images.

Include descriptive key phrases in the alt text of your images to give your organic ranking a leg up.

In addition, use videos to make your page rank better and drive more traffic.

Search engines favor pages that include videos because it’s a phenomenal way to create unique, quality content.

Another great way to boost your ranking through organic traffic is to join affiliate programs and generate backlinks to your page.

Getting links from authoritative industry sites and blogs tells search engines that your store is to be trusted and promoted.

7 Ecommerce SEO Best Practices to Improve Product Page Rankings:

Optimize your product pages now by following these seven ecommerce SEO best practices to increase your product page rankings and your conversion rate.

  1. Know how users search for your products by doing keyword research.
  2. Write unique product descriptions.
  3. Create titles, meta descriptions, H1s and Image alt tags based on keyword research.
  4. Use long-tail keyword phrases.
  5. Ensure you have product rich snippets.
  6. Add additional content to product pages.
  7. Promote and engage.

2. Curb the size of your images.

Your web page also must load fast enough on all devices, including mobile, so don’t overload it with images that take forever to load.

Rather, keep your images light. Follow your platform’s image guidelines to strike the right balance between quality, zooming capability, and a fast-loading site.

Every extra second your page takes to load can hurt your conversion rate.

Editor’s Note: If you are on BigCommerce, the platform takes care of image optimization for you – automatically. Learn more here.

With that in mind, test your images and your product page using Google PageSpeed Insights to see if you can optimize them for both desktop and mobile.

And use the world of tools out there to further optimize them.

Page Load Speed Is Often Overlooked. It Shouldn’t Be.

One of the most overlooked metrics on product pages is the time to load the site, and with a lot of ecommerce traffic coming from mobile, this becomes even more important.

We’ve seen with several brands massive improvements in conversion just by increasing the site speed.

– Eric Carlson, Co-Founder, 10X Factory

3. Keep a Uniform Look.

Finally, keep your product pages and images uniform and consistent across all your product lines.

Consistency promotes trust and increases your conversion and retention rate.

One way to maintain an orderly look is to use the same aspect ratio and product scale across all your product lines so visitors can easily navigate your pages without being distracted by the image style itself.

Keeping your images square is also good standard advice so that they look good on all devices, including smartphones.

Here’s a great example from Meeaudio. All images are perfectly sized for consistency and quick loading.

Product page optimization should be someone’s full-time job.

This process should be codified in your procedures, measured and executed continually.

The three metrics we currently use are 1: Search Results Page Rank, 2: Sub-Category-Page-Rank (online marketplaces), and 3: Sales Volume.

Sometimes when sales volume dips against historical numbers it is due to changes in the way pages are ranked. If you’re keeping an eye on these metrics and trends, daily, weekly, monthly you can adjust pretty quickly in order to regain your sales volume.

– Jason Boyce, Co-founder & CEO, Dazadi

The Impact of Powerful Visuals

The visual media you use on your product pages is up to your brand. But you have a lot of different options – and some types tend to work best for specific purposes.

Let’s look at each option.

1. Photos.

Quality images are your best brand advocates, casting the very first impression on your customers.

Everything else on the page, including content and navigation, is there to build on that first impression and lead your visitors to a purchase.

So take your time with your photography. Create unique and polished photos that evoke trust and boost your consumer lifetime value.

2. 360-degree shots.

360-degree shots are super interactive and make your page stand out. People love them!

They are proven to increase conversion, reduce returns, and attract more attention to your website.

While they can be pricey and complicated to shoot, if you can fit them in your budget, they can positively affect your bottom line.

3. Video.

Not only do people usually prefer video as a way of learning new information, video is also responsible for the majority of internet traffic.

On product pages, video helps your organic search ranking and is a great tool to grab attention, create relationships with your customers, or answer questions about product features in seconds.

Solo Stove, for example, uses a lot of videos on its product page to the delight of its customers and conversion rate alike.

Source: Solo Stove

While quality video production is expensive, if you’re just starting out, you can shoot a few seconds-long blurb videos that promote a lifestyle or answer questions with just about any camera.

Adding them to your gallery will give substance to your page and help your conversion.

Engaging Apps and Plugins (Tools!)

Another way to fortify your product page that no ecommerce store can ignore is using apps and plugins that interact with your customers.

They can help you tackle:

  • Abandoned carts
  • Answer questions
  • Offer suggestions.

You can also use apps to create a sense of urgency and scarcity, which are proven to boost conversion.

Some of the key tools you can employ include:

Source: Chatra

12 Best Ecommerce Product Page Examples

Your product page is one of your most important sales tools your business has.

Keeping it optimized and up-to-standard is a must. So, as a wrap up, let’s look at 12 innovative product page examples.

1.Hook & Albert.

2. Olive Clothing.

3. Coast New Zealand.

4. Marucci.

5. Enro.

6. Tabitha Simmons.

7. Kardiel.

8. Atkins.

9. Fresh Fronks.

10. Ethel’s Baking Co.

11. Handpicked Wines.

12. Solo Stove.


Don’t be afraid to go above and beyond the status quo. Most product page designs are very generic and follow a similar pattern as the competition.

That said, the most important metrics for ecommerce product page optimization range from social and referral traffic to conversion rates.

You want to see referral traffic coming to your site because it indicates that the story your product page is telling is compelling. You want to track conversion rates because it’s important that your visits are turning into sales.

– Ross Simmonds, Founder, Foundation Marketing

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How to Optimize Ecommerce Images for More Sales: A Guide to Image SEO & Conversion https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/optimize-images-for-web/ https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/optimize-images-for-web/#comments Tue, 30 Jan 2018 12:00:15 +0000 https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/?p=22831 How much attention do you pay to your store’s image optimization? Often times, brands get caught up on overthinking a…]]>

How much attention do you pay to your store’s image optimization?

Often times, brands get caught up on overthinking a logo – spending days, weeks or even months before they launch a great idea just trying to figure out what symbol is appropriate for a brand they haven’t even started yet.

And then, when it comes time to actually launching, way too many entrepreneurs spend much too little time focusing on great product photography and branded imagery.

And yet, imagery continues to be the catalyst of our era – the communication vehicle through which people understand value or disregard and move on to the next.

Only video matches the picture’s power in this respect.

And you use your pictures everywhere:

  • On your product pages.
  • On your category pages.
  • On your homepage.
  • In your abandoned cart messages.
  • On your blog.
  • On your social accounts.
  • For your Facebook Advertising.
  • For your Google Shopping stream.

In fact, the only thing you don’t use images for is Google AdWords. And Google AdWords is often the most expensive PPC you’ll have.

What is Google’s Speed Update?

Despite image-less AdWords, Google is heavily invested in your brand and product images as well.

In January 2018, the company announced that mobile search algorithms will begin to take page load speed into account beginning July 2018.

This is being dubbed the Speed Update.

And there are 2 things that slow down page load speed:

  1. Way too much javascript often caused by too many apps and not enough built-in to your site.
  2. Way too large of images that are not optimized for screen size.

Less Apps. More Sales. Only on BigCommerce

“We recently re-platformed from Shopify Plus to BigCommerce. I cannot explain how angry I am that for months we have paid Shopify many thousands of dollars for functionality that comes as standard with BigCommerce!

Once we decided we were going to pull the plug with Shopify, we literally spent the three days on BigCommerce installing a template, customizing, and then completing our full product import.

The feedback I’ve had from people that I’ve shared the site with already is ‘It loads so much faster! The mobile experience is so much better!’”

– Richard Eib, Monroe and Kent

Test drive your data in BigCommerce

Platforms like BigCommerce alleviate these issue for you by:

  1. Building in more functionality to the platform. On average, BigCommerce stores use 2-5 apps. On other SaaS platforms, average is +15.
  2. Automatically optimizing all images for page load speed across any device. BigCommerce partners with Akamai, the leader in image optimization on the web, to automatically optimize all images for all customers –– with no extra effort or cost on their part.

Less Tech Debt. More Sales

“The decision to move to the Akamai Image Manager network has been a boost to our merchants, enabling them to deliver faster site load times and strengthen their overall mobile site performance.

What’s more, merchants did not have to invest costly time and effort to further develop optimized images for different devices, leading many to see an increase in site engagement and conversion – especially for mobile shoppers.”

– Frank Morrall, president at VisionCourse Media, an online marketing and design agency, and a BigCommerce partner.

The truth about image optimization, speed & your bottom line

Yes, images are one of if not the most important asset for your ecommerce store.

And yet, too often they are neglected –– store owners completely forgetting to optimize images for web.


  • Because optimizing your images for the web is just one additional step in a never ending to do list.
  • It is often seen as low priority, and thus forgotten.

But if you want to improve your conversion rate, your customer engagement, your loyalty and your lifetime value –– well, you need to start by paying more attention to your imagery.

But where should you start?

We’ve got you covered.

In this guide we’ll go through the most important concepts for you to understand regarding your images, and show you how you can begin implementing tips to increase conversion – right now.

Why images are so important

Before we jump in, it’s important to understand why images can have such a big impact on your store. Here’s a high-level view.

1. First impressions count.

Images are the first thing your customers see when looking at a product page, and those first few seconds can be crucial in determining if the product is what they are looking for.

In fact, in a 2017 study commissioned by BigCommerce and Square, American online shoppers cited additional product photography as the #1 thing they want more of from online brands.

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2. A picture is worth 1000 words.

Images help a customer ascertain the quality and details of a product better than any description.

In lieu of being able to feel the product as in a retail store, great product photography lets the user explore the various details of the product up close.

Indeed, in that same study by BigCommerce and Square, nearly half of respondents (49%) cited not being able to touch, feel or try a product as one of their least favorite aspects of online shopping.

This was the second most hated aspect of online shopping in the study.

3. Mobile is taking over.

As mobile shopping becomes increasingly prevalent, images will only become more important –– as evidenced by Google’s Speed Update move.

User’s are increasingly using images instead of text to judge the suitability of the product and even to navigate.

Do you think a customer will read each description first or look at the photo?

Having clearer, more appealing ecommerce product images means your products will get looked at, clicked on and bought more often.

4. Images can actually hurt your website.

Using unprofessional or poorly optimized images for web can have a major impact on your shopping experience and even where you rank in search engines.

  • Do your images load slowly?
  • Have you not added meta description?
  • Are people bouncing as soon as they land there?

You won’t ever get to Page 1 with that kind of behavior.

With that in mind, let’s walk through how you can make sure you have professional-quality and optimised photography on your ecommerce store.

Optimizing Images & Photos: A Quick Guide

The first step to optimizing your product photography (or any image on your site) is to first start with great photos.

But after that, a lot of the optimization process is behind-the-scenes.

In fact, optimizing your photos can be the strategic advantage you need to crush the competition.

They can’t see what you’re doing after all, but you’ll get higher search rankings which means:

  • More clicks.
  • More sales.

Combine that with the power and customizability of your site’s SEO (i.e. complete URL control across the board), and you’ll win on Google.

Let’s look at how to do this despite what platform you are on.

Automatic Image Optimization & Complete SEO Control

Online stores using BigCommerce get automatic Akamai image optimization for all images uploaded to their storefront.

  • No additional cost.
  • No waste of time.

Plus, BigCommerce is the only SaaS platform that allows you to completely customize all site URLs and metadata. The platform’s non-proprietary coding language also gets bonus points from Google.

Move data over now and see for yourself with a 15 day free trial.

Test drive a platform you control.

1. Start with good photos.

Having great ecommerce photography starts with taking the right picture.

Your photography doesn’t have to involve an expensive camera or setup. In fact, you can create your own DIY photography setup that will do the job.

But there are a few tips you can follow to make sure you are starting off with the best possible photos.

Make sure you have the right setup.

An ecommerce photography setup doesn’t have to be expensive, but if you’re just getting started there are a few things you should invest in to take quality photos:

  1. A consumer DSLR camera or smartphone. Most smartphones today have a camera that will be more than adequate for taking standard product photos. Using a smartphone also gives you access to hundreds of photography apps.
  2. A light source. Having a light source helps to provide even illumination of your image and will make a huge difference to the quality of your photos. If you’re starting out you might find it easier to work with a natural light source. In this case, using a fill light will help you eliminate the shadows on your image.
  3. A white sweep. The sweep will help diffuse the lighting across your image evenly and make editing your photos later much easier. This can be anything from a white sheet to rolls of paper.
  4. A steady surface. If you’re taking a number of photos, having a steady surface makes it easy to keep your images consistently placed.
  5. A camera tripod. Likewise, having a camera tripod ensures you can get consistently position photos every time. It also makes it easy to readjust your products without having to juggle a camera at the same time.

2. Showcase your products with multiple angles.

Look at any successful online store and you’ll rarely see one using just a single photo for any of their images.

Product photography can be used to showcase the best aspects of the product, so it’s important to include a variety of shots.

For example, at online clothing store Olive Ave, they use a variety of shots to showcase their product.

You can do this without models as well. Look at this example from KAOS.

Different photos can help showcase different aspects.

  • Long-shots showing the product on a model can help the user visualize how the product will look in a real-life situation.
  • Medium shots help them ascertain the overall look of the product itself.
  • Close-ups illustrate the finer details and quality of the product that can really sell its value.

3. Use a white background for your products.

Replacing the background of photos with a white background ensures that you will have consistently great looking images, no matter their order on your site or how you use them across the web.

White backgrounds are standard on almost every online store, and there are a few very good reasons for that:

  1. Your products will POP on a white background
  2. Your images will look consistent on collection pages
  3. It will save you money and time in editing
  4. You can easily reuse or replace the background on any of your photos
  5. Marketplaces like Google Shopping and Amazon now require white backgrounds

Using white-background images makes products easy to compare. Source: jenis.

You can use software such as Photoshop or Pixlr to manually replace the background of your product photos with a white background, or let services like Pixc do the work for you.

4. Save your images with the right dimensions.

Paying attention to the dimension of your image is crucial if you aren’t on BigCommerce.

  • If too large, you will cause issues with your page load time.
  • If too small, your images will look grainy (i.e. poor quality).

Use pixels to measure the dimensions of your images.

Your iPhone will have something in the range of a 12 Megapixel camera, which just means that the photos it takes consist of twelve million pixels. The photos produced by the 12mp camera will be 3000px x 4000px.

For ecommerce photography, that size is unnecessary. On BigCommerce, for instance, the optimal size for your product photos is 1028px by 1028px, while your other photos should be under 1000px on both sides.

Keeping your images square will ensure they display correctly and look good regardless of whether the contents of the photo are longer or taller.

When your images are sufficiently large enough in dimension, then the same image can be scaled down to be used in your thumbnails or in collection images.

And, if you have product zoom enabled, you can display a much higher resolution image.

Images can be scaled down to different sizes. Source: Martha Stewart Cafe Shop

If you don’t have access to software that can resize your images, like Photoshop, don’t worry.

Services like Pixlr and Canva can help you with basic editing and resizing needs.

Faster Checkouts. Less Development.

Again, if you are on BigCommerce, the platform uses Akamai behind-the-scenes to optimize and resize all images based on the device your customer is coming from. This means faster page load speed and less work for you.

5. Improve page load speeds by using the correct image format.

It’s easy to just choose the default save option when you’re creating your images, but knowing the difference between file formats and settings can have a massive impact on your site.

Your BigCommerce store allows for three different image formats: JPG/JPEG, GIF or PNG. Each of these have different benefits and drawbacks.

  • GIF files are lower in quality, but also in file size. If you need to create an image specifically for small icons or thumbnails, then you probably want to use a GIF. They’re also the only format available that supports animation (though keep an eye out for APNG). However, as the image size gets bigger, GIFS become less efficient at processing colors,.
  • PNG files support a wider range of colors, and also the only format that supports transparent backgrounds. However, this all comes at the cost of larger file size. If you need to edit a photo multiple times, you’ll want to export it as a PNG file.
  • JPEG images are the most common format used by digital cameras and online. They support a wide range of colours, but the JPEG compression settings allow you to strike a balance between image quality and file size.

JPEGS offer a good balance between file size and quality, while GIFS offer poor file size for more complex images. Image Source: Brook Lark

6. Experiment with quality settings.

In most cases, JPEG will be the file type of choice for your images. It offers a high quality image at reasonable file sizes.

One of the great benefits about the jpeg file type is the ability to choose the level of compression that you would like. Adjusting the compression settings enables you to reduce the filesize, at the cost of image quality.

Have a look at this example where the same photo has been saved using different levels of compression:

The result of using high, medium and low JPEG compression. Image source: Alex Jones

When not to use JPEG.

While JPEG is the most popular format for web images, there are a few cases where it’s best to use a higher resolution file type like PNG. For example:

  • When your image is mainly lines, icons or sharp images: JPEG compression may blur the line between the image and the background and make the contrast less apparent.
  • When the image will undergo multiple edits: The compression will slightly alter the image each time and after several edits, it may noticeably distort the image.

Not on BigCommerce? Compress your images with this free tool.

As we’ve already discussed, images will typically range in file size from a few dozen kilobytes in their compressed form, up to a few megabytes, depending on the file type and level of compression you have used.

If you’re on BigCommerce, once again, you do not need to worry about this section. Move on and read the next section.

For everyone else…let’s start here:

If you’re unfamiliar with the Byte data unit, each Byte is equal to 1024 of the previous one.

So to clarify:

1024 Bytes (b) = 1 Kilobytes (kb). 1024 Kilobytes = 1 Megabyte (mb). 1024mb = 1 Gigabyte (gb)

You don’t have to remember this, but just consider that you typically want to aim for photos that are under 100kb to reduce the time it takes for everything on your page to display.

An iPhone 7’s typical photo file size is around 3mb which translates to 3072kb, or more than 30x optimal image sizes!

Now imagine that you have a gallery of ten photos all of this size on your page, and you start to understand why compressing your images is important.

Most image editing tools will allow you to adjust the level of compression for your JPEG files.

But if your image editing software doesn’t offer good compression options, if you aren’t on a platform that does this automatically for you, or you aren’t sure on the level of quality loss that will be suitable for each image, you can use another tool to make your photo size smaller.

TinyJPG is one such service that is free – a free image optimizer – and will accept both JPG and PNG images.

Instead of you having to guess the right balance between quality and file size, services like TinyJPG analyze the image for you to determine the smallest possible file sizes, while still maintaining optimal image quality.

TinyJPG shows you your original image versus the optimized image.

Even if you already compress your images when saving, you’ll be surprised how much of an impact running them through a service like TinyJPG can have.

Search Engine Image Optimization 101

Images are a fantastic source of organic content that can help your rank better in Google.

There are a few things you should be doing to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your image content.

1.Use informative file names.

Image names are the first piece of information you can provide to Google to let them know what your image is about.

The default file name that come from your camera and looks like a string of numbers does nothing to describe what the photo is actually about.

When naming your images, describe the contents of the photo and use dashes instead of spaces. BigCommerce does not allow spaces in their image file names.

Renaming the file to optimize for keywords, including line drawing and happy woman.

2. Include appropriate alt text.

Alt text is intended as an accessibility feature, and that’s how it should be approached.

If the user is vision impaired, or if the image can’t be loaded, the alt text is what will be displayed.

But alt text is also used by Google to gain a better understanding of what the image contains.

That makes it a valuable spot to include the relevant search term that people looking for your product would search for.

Matching my optimized image file name with my metadata, page title and URL structure on my product page backend.

3. Provide context around your image.

The content that surrounds your image is also important.

Search engines act the same way as your users do, by using the content throughout the page to build up a bigger picture of what the page is about.

This can be particularly valuable on product pages where you can use unique descriptions to better describe the product in the photo.

Here, I’ve updated my product description to include all my keywords: custom art print, line drawing, happy woman. I’ve also included additional content and details for branding purposes.

4. Use images to improve the experience.

You can also go above and beyond and create a great user experiences by doing the following with your images:

  • Use good-quality, non-blurry photos. With smartphones and free editing software available, there’s really no excuse for not having good-quality photos. It makes for a better experience, and people are more likely to link back to pages with better photos.
  • Place them higher up the page. People don’t always scroll down to the bottom of the page, so make sure your images are higher up the page where readers will have the chance to see them.
  • Specify the width and height of each image. If the browser knows how big the image will be, it can load the rest of the content in place while it waits for the image to finish downloading. This can reduce the amount of time it takes for your page to load and create a better user experience.

Providing extra SEO information and optimizing your images to provide the best browsing experience will help increase the amount of organic traffic to your site, and improve the amount of time shoppers spend once they’re there.

Trick of the trade: Use open graph to show the right image on social media

The final thing you can do to get the most out of your images is make sure that when someone shares a link to your website, the correct image is shown.

Source: Kelty

By using something called the Open Graph protocol, you can make sure that your best product image is shown, rather than a generic logo or unrelated image.

Here’s where you can do this on the BigCommerce backend for each individual product.

The image you want to use is specified in your page’s header section, similar to how you might specify the title tag and description for the page.

You might find that for certain BigCommerce pages, such as your homepage, you may need to create a separate HTMLHead file where you can specify which image will be used.

Product Image Optimization Checklist

Product images have the power to make or break a sale.

Remember that your customers can’t pick up and feel a product. They rely solely on your descriptions and the visuals you give them — by way of ecommerce product images.

So, are you nailing these best practices when it comes to your product images?

Here’s a checklist to make sure you are – 100% of the time.

1. Set up for success.

  • First up, steady your camera with a tripod (or any hard and stable surface) to avoid camera shake.
  • Next, make sure you shoot with sufficient lighting to light up both your product and the entire photoshoot space. You can do this by using multiple light sources (flashes, strobes and even normal desk lamps will do) but the easiest way is to use natural lighting.
  • Use the sun as an indirect light source. Take your photo near a window, and if it’s too bright, diffuse the light with white blankets, sheets or paper. Lighting up your product in the shooting stage will produce a better quality photograph and also save you a lot of editing time.
  • Consider shooting on a white backdrop. It takes a bit of extra time to set up, but it’s easier to remove the background later should you choose to do so, and it will help with your camera’s white balance calibration. On top of that, white reflects light whereas darker colors will absorb it, so your product will naturally turn out nicely brightened and contrasted.

2. Shoot multiple photos.

Everyone loves the convenience of online shopping, but let’s be honest, nothing compares to being able to physically touch the product.

When it comes to online shopping, difficulty visualizing what a product would look like in real life is one of the number one reasons behind purchase resistance. To help your customer visualize a product, take photos from different angles.

  • Start off with a “hero image”. It’s the first of a series of images of your product. The best option for a hero image is either a front-on shot or a 45-degree angle shot, depending on the product. In some cases, like shoes for example, a side-on shot might be more appropriate. The photo should be simple and feature only the product that you’re selling as to avoid confusing the viewer.
  • Following on from your hero image, include photos from above, below, the side, the back etc.

3. Take shots in context.

Next up, sell your product with some in-context product photos.

Show photos of your product in use. For example. complement a pair of pants with some nice shoes, a plate with a delicious-looking salad, or a vase with nice flowers.

The viewer should want everything in the photo (including your product wink wink nudge nudge).

However, you should refrain from using this as your hero image, because ultimately you want to show off (and sell) your product, not your photography skills.

4. Clean up finished photos.

There are also a few best practices you should keep in mind after you put the camera down.

A good idea is to remove the background and let your products do the talking.

Simple, white backgrounds draw attention to the product and will match any website design, so if you decide to change up your template, you won’t have to worry about getting new images.

5. Get the sizing right.

When it comes to uploading your ecommerce product photos onto your store, image size and quality both matter!

When you set up your online store, you choose the product image dimensions for your template.

For the best product image size, I recommend using a template that goes beyond the average 500 and 700 pixels. This is small for an image.

Don’t make the mistake of manually resizing your images to that size before uploading them to BigCommerce.

In fact, lowering the resolution by that many pixels will give you a blurry image. Images of any size, as long as they have the same width to height ratio as the template, will be automatically resized without any cropping or extra space on the sides when you upload them to your online store.

I always recommend 1200px on the longest side of the image to be safe, which also gives you a decent sized image if you choose to use a product zoom feature.

That being said, there is no technology that can make images bigger while keeping them just as clear, so when you set up your template, make sure your product zoom feature is no bigger than the dimensions of the file you upload.

Here are settings for your Bigcommerce store. Akamai will automatically resize for device your customer is using so that your page load as quickly as possible, giving your higher mobile search ranking.

  • Create a canvas of the size you want in Photoshop and drag your photos into the new canvas, resizing them within the new canvas and not the original files.
  • If you don’t have Photoshop or want something that’s a bit easier to use, use Canva. Just create a design using custom dimensions, upload your images and resize them in there. It’s too easy!

6. Be consistent.

Finally, you want your images to look consistent.

Your BigCommerce template will make them all the same size, and a white background will keep everything looking nice and neat.

But if you want to make your product images just look a tad more professional, adjust your product photos so that they take up 80-90% of the canvas.

This means that even on a page of differently shaped products, there will still be that element of consistency.

So, there you have it. A product photography and image optimization checklist to ensure your site load quickly, the images look great and you get more sales for less work.

Image Optimization FAQs

Improving your ecommerce stores images is one of the most effective ways to create a better shopping experience for your customers.

Better images can help customers be sure of the products they are buying, help you rank better in search engines and lower your site’s load time.

With the advice you’ve been given in this guide, you have everything you need to start optimizing your ecommerce product images to bring in more traffic and make more sales.

As a wrap up, let’s answer a few brief image optimization FAQs.

What is image compression?

When you first upload an image, the pixel and file size is often much larger than needed for your site.

Image compression compresses an image size (makes it smaller) without sacrificing quality depending on the device the person is viewing the image from.

For example, file size needed for a high quality print photo is very high. For those, you need a hi-resolution (hi-res) image, i.e. 4608 x 3456 image will yield a 15 x 11 print. Needs for web images are lower.

What is lossless compression?

Lossless compression describes the compression of an image file in which all original data can be recovered when the file is uncompressed.

With lossless compression, every single bit of data that was originally in the file remains after the file is uncompressed.

Does your store need to worry about this? It depends.

Best practice is to save all original files in the cloud with a backup. In other words, use Google Drive, Dropbox or Box to save your original, large files.

What is lossy compression?

Lossy compression or irreversible compression describes the compression of an image file in which inexact approximations and partial data discarding  are used to represent the content.

This means the original file cannot be restored.

For your online store, if you use this method, you will want to use a cloud storage file with backup to save your original files.

This type of compression will not save your original files, but it will increase page load speed. Image quality, likely will not be noticed depending on the device.

What is the difference between lossy and lossless compression?

The difference between lossy and lossless compression is the way in which the image is compressed.

In lossy compression, you cannot restore the original file.

In lossless compression, you can restore the original file.

Either way, you should store original files in a cloud service with hard drive backup.

Will users notice when product photos are optimized?

No. Images are optimized for device size without affecting the visual quality of the image.

Users will see no discernable difference, other than faster page load speeds.

What other image optimizer tools do you recommend?

Should images be responsive?

Yes, the images on your site should be responsive. This means they are compressed and optimized based on device the browser is using.

BigCommerce stores have this done automatically for them for free. If you use other ecommerce platforms, check with them on offered solutions and costs.

How can non-designers create quality images for a website?

We highly recommend hiring a professional photographers for all product images and using experienced graphic designers to ensure you have the highest quality images on your website. However, tools like Canva, Piktochart, Aviary and LogoGarden can help you create high quality images with little design experience.

Want more insights like this?

We’re on a mission to provide businesses like yours marketing and sales tips, tricks and industry leading knowledge to build the next house-hold name brand. Don’t miss a post. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/optimize-images-for-web/feed/ 2
How to Master Product Photography on a Tight Budget (We Did it With Less Than $50) https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/how-to-rock-product-photography-on-a-budget/ https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/how-to-rock-product-photography-on-a-budget/#comments Thu, 25 Jan 2018 15:00:18 +0000 http://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/?p=8046 Consumers seek time-saving shortcuts all the time, and their attention naturally gravitates to the quickest way to gather information: images.…]]>

Consumers seek time-saving shortcuts all the time, and their attention naturally gravitates to the quickest way to gather information: images.

Product images not only testify to the quality of your product, but also serve as windowfs into your ecommerce store, creating 2 very important things:

  1. Transparency
  2. Trust

When consumers view a product page, they are looking for proof of quality and value.

Images shape their first impression, creating a tipping point as to whether they will continue browsing and eventually make a purchase.

Here, we’ll show you how to take images that:

  1. Engage
  2. Convert
  3. Boost the lifetime value of your customers.

We’ll also go over how to optimize the photo creation process to save you time and money.

Keep in mind that you don’t need a large budget to create polished and professional product photos.

In fact, we will show you how to do it for about $50.

What is Product Photography?

Product photography uses specific techniques to showcases products in an attractive way and entice potential buyers to purchase specific products.

Product photography is an essential part of both online and offline advertising for successful catalogues, brochures, magazine ads, billboards, online ads and company websites, specifically when selling products direct to consumer.

Now, let’s take a closer look at why images are so important.

Why Photography Increases Conversions

90% of information transmitted to our brain is visual.

No matter how sophisticated, website visitors are first engaged by visual elements, not written copy.

Photos are a key part of a consumer’s decision-making process, ultimately determining conversion and retention rates.

The quality of a product photo reflects your brand image, creating the infamous first impression.

The key to making the most of their first impress is to present polished, professional images that evokes maximum engagement.

1. Quality visuals enhance every buyer touchpoint.

93% of consumers consider images essential in purchasing decisions.

Your images represent your product’s perceived value and quality. They speak directly to your target audience, making your product page and content more relatable.

Take Naturally Curly’s for example.

They offer amazing images of simple, everyday products, often making them cool and appealing.

Take a look at the product images below. How neat and trustworthy do they look?

Source: Naturally Curly

Again, you don’t need a large budget to create polished and professional product photos. In this guide, we’ll show you how to do it for $50.

2. Images are a key element of branding.

Branding should be central to every decision your company makes, including:

  • Your social media posts
  • Website updates
  • All your marketing efforts.

And images are at the helm of your brand. They are the first to grab attention, instill trust, and invite customers to take a further look.

Everything in an imagequality, subject matter, color theme and saturationshould speak in a uniform voice that resonates with your target audience.

Your goal is to form long-term relationships with your customers, and photos are one of the most important tools to achieve that.

Seriously Silly Socks does a great job at this. They offer polished but super brand-charged product-only images.

Source: Seriously Silly Socks

The 2 Types of Ecommerce Product Photography

There are two main types of images that should be used on your product page and across your marketing channels.

  1. The first are clean-cut, white background, product-only images. These should include your featured product, and a variety of images showcasing your product from different angles. Below is an example of Sierra Designs’ product-only shot.
  2. The second is in-context or lifestyle photos that show your product being used in its intended environment or alongside complementing products. Here’s the same product in a lifestyle or in-context shot.

Product-Only Images.

Product-only images are meant to show your product in its best light from all relevant angles.

They are usually shot on a white background, helping to create a consistent look across your product line.

These images describe your product at a glance and are best suited for your product page. Their job is to nurture page visitors towards making a purchase.

Contrary to what people might assume, you actually need about a dozen images on your product page, not just one or two.

Most of them should be product-only shots, with one or two in-context shots mixed in, designed to create further emotional bonds with your product.

Product-only images are generally the most suited for product pages, as they have a significantly higher rate of conversion.

In-Context Images.

Source: Dainty Jewells

Lifestyle shots, ones that tell a story, are best suited for social media, blog posts, emails, and other marketing channels at the top of your conversion funnel.

It’s also good to add a few in-context snaps to your product page, helping to to boost emotional engagement.

The same rules apply to taking lifestyle photos as in product-only shots, apart from the fact that lifestyle photos allow you a lot more creative freedom.

You can use a camera, with or without a tripod, or why not take your products photos outdoors, to a settings that suits your brand’s voice.

For outdoor shoots on a budget, it is best to use natural light.

You can achieve really beautiful results if you shoot early in the morning or in the late afternoon, when the light is filtered at a smaller angle.

Basic Product Photography Equipment and Process

For those new to photography, your first product shoot may seem overwhelming.

But after a few rounds, each step will become more natural, and you won’t even have to think about it.

The key is to find a process that suits your needs, optimize it, and create a set of guidelines to ensure you keep your images consistent.

Let’s take a look at our DIY product photography tips.

1. Set up your background and product.

Getting the right background is worth the effort, because it simplifies the entire editing process.

Use a white or light backdrop, as it’s easy to remove when retouching your images.

There are lots of ways you can improvise a background on a budget, and we will look at two that can be set up for under $20.

  1. A shooting table: You can create this with a chair you have in your home or office.
  2. A light tent

Shooting Table.

Source: Pixc

The first is a chair mounted sweep. For this, all you need is a roll of craft paper.

The simplest way to achieve this is by pushing a chair against a wall, and taping craft paper on the wall allowing it naturally fall to the ground, creating a seamless transition between the vertical to horizontal plane.

Or you can clip the paper to the top of the chair to improvise a stand for your sweep like the image above.

Light Tent.

The other budget approach is to create your own lightbox, aka light tent.

A light tent is a box-shaped device with translucent walls, designed to help distribute the light evenly around the object of photography.

Here’s how to set one up.

  1. To get started, you need a plastic storage container that you can put on its side with the lid off.
  2. Then, tape some white paper to the bottom, and you can also tape white paper or cloth on the sides to serve as diffusers, which helps to distribute the light better, minimizing unnecessary shadows.
  3. Depending on your budget, you can use artificial lighting and place them either side of the container, or for those on a budget take advantage of natural lighting by placing it your DIY lightbox next to a large window.

Setting up your Product.

It’s important to make sure you set your product up in front of your background on a flat, stable surface.

Once you get the lighting right, you’re almost ready to shoot.

If you’re shooting jewelry, it’s always best to use a bust. Those on a budget can improvise by making one from a piece of cardboard, like in the image below.

Source: Pixc

You can also use fishing line to suspend earrings and other small items, which is easily removed in the editing process.

Here are a few ideas for harder to photograph items:

  • Use glue dots and tape to fix small items in place.
  • For clothing, it’s always best to use a mannequin, which can be easily removed.
  • You could try experimenting with a hanger or even creative flatlay.
  • For lifestyle shots, why not ask a friend or team member to sport your clothes for some bonus photos.

Source: Pixc

If you are shooting large items, like furniture, you will need a stand mounted sweep that might cost a little more.

But you can improvise by getting a few rolls of craft paper, taping them to the wall, and letting gravity do all the work.

This technique follows the same principles as the table mounted sweep, only it’s a bit bigger.

2. Get your lighting right.

If there is one deciding factor that defines the quality of your images, it’s light.

Lighting can be very tedious to set up, but when done right, it brings beautiful results and significantly simplifies your post-processing.

You have 2 options:

  1. Natural Light: Best if you’ve created a chair mounted sweep.
  2. Studio Light: Best if you have the budget, or if you create a lightbox.

Natural Light.

Source: Pixc

When you’re on a budget, you should use natural light. It’s much easier to manipulate, and, for small in-house product shoots, it can save you lots of time and hassle.

Start by placing your shooting table near a large window, ideally one that allows lots of light into the room.

If the light is too harsh, you can diffuse it by placing a cloth or white paper over the window (see image above).

If the shadows are too harsh, use white plasterboard or cardboard on either side of the object, helping to reflect some light and soften it. It’s always best to shoot when the day is at its brightest, giving you more light to play with.

Source: Pixc

Better to have too much sunlight and minimise it, than not enough.

It’s very hard to create great lighting during the editing process.

But keep in mind never to shoot under direct sunlight. Just like a strong backlight, direct light can create harsh shadows.

Studio Lights.

Source: arqspin

If you have to use artificial lighting, you will need at least two softbox light setups to get the shadows right.

You can typically buy two clip-on light clamps, with strong bulbs for under $30. If your budget is slightly higher, you can get two softbox setups for about $50.

One of the lights should serve as your key light, and the other as your fill light or backlight, depending on your desired results.

Consider placing some white paper or cloth over them to diffuse some of the light, helping to achieve softer shadows.

Your key light should be placed in front often slightly to the side of the product, while your fill or backlight is on the opposite side, back or above.

Manipulate the angles and distance of the lights until you get soft, evenly distributed shadows.

You can also use white plasterboard or cardboard to defuse some of the light and further soften those shadows.

This is what lightboxes are designed to do; they are a diffuser of sorts, distributing the light evenly around the product.

With that in mind, studio lights give you more control over the entire process, especially if you are shooting multiple products over several hours.

Once you have the right setup, you can get consistent, professional results and recreate them for all your shoots.

3. Use a tripod.

Tripods bring consistency, stability, and focus.

It is easy to end up with blurry images when you try to get your entire product in focus, while holding your camera in your hand without moving.

If you can’t fit a tripod into your budget, use a pile of books or a stool to keep your camera fixed.

A decent tripod will serve you well for many years, and you should be able to get one for under $30. It’s definitely worth picking on up when you have some budget.

If you’re using a camera, set it to a low aperture (AKA a high f/stop), and slow shutter speed.

That way you will get a wide depth of field, keeping your entire product in focus, leaving your products looking crisp.

It’s vital to stabilize your camera when you are shooting with a wide depth of field in order to avoid blurry images.

4. Pick the right camera.

Source: Pixc

It is the most essential element to any product photography shoot: a camera.

Prices of DSLR and point and shoot cameras have steadily dropped over recent years.

Recommended DSLR Settings for Product Photography:
  • Don’t use a wide angle lens. You will distort your product.
  • Use the right aperture for the right shot. A wide aperture like f2.8 or f4.5 will narrow your depth of field, leaving parts of your product out of focus. A small aperture like f8 or f11 will give you a wider depth of field, keeping your entire product crisp and in focus.
  • Use the correct white balance. When shooting, you should set it to the same Kelvin temperature as your lights.

However, if you have a smartphone, you don’t need to worry about investing in a camera when you’re getting starting.

Smartphone camera technology has come a long way and sometimes you can take even better pictures than you might using a professional camera.

So as long as you get your lighting and background right, your iPhone or Samsung device can do a good job.

You might want to get a smartphone stabilizer or tripod, like Joby, at some point to help reduce blur and speed up post-processing.

5. Don’t forget post-processing.

Source: Pixc

Retouching your images after the shoot is vital to achieving a polished look.

Even if you shoot your product with a smartphone, editing can be the difference between mediocre and professional results.

For those starting out, getting the background or the lighting right takes a bit of trial and error. Thankfully photo editing can make a multitude of flaws magically disappear.

Retouching covers anything from background removal to color correction, mannequin removal, and shadow addition for a more natural look.

Photo editing is a time-consuming process, especially until you get the hang of things.

Luckily, there’s a world of free image editing tools available to help with all your photo editing needs.

Examples of Free Image Editing Tools:
  • Pixlr – Free and has a lot of the functionality of Photoshop.
  • Canva – User-friendly free online editor best suited for marketing materials.
  • Fotor – Free, easy-to-use smartphone app.
  • Snapseed – Powerful, fully-featured mobile app that is also free.

Let Professionals Handle Editing - Free Trial

For those who don’t have time or perhaps don’t want the hassle, you can opt to use an online tool designed to create perfect product photography – Pixc.

All you have to do is upload your photos from your phone (or camera), and pop them into our user-friendly dashboard.

Set your requirements, such as background removal or color correction, save them into a template, and submit. It’s that simple.

You’ll receive professional, retail-ready images within 24 hours.

Start a free trial.

How to Create Product Photography Guidelines

Once you have the process down to a fine art, make sure you take the time to create clear shooting, brand, and editing guidelines so you can maintain consistency as your business grows.

This step won’t cost anything, apart from the time it takes you to write it down!

Make sure you document all the minor things, including things like the distance between the camera and product, angles, and lighting setup.

Trust me, it’s worth the effort in the long run.

Keep in mind that your product photos are basically brand ambassadors, and maintaining consistency is crucial.

Create a technical guide and a template in your editing software that will help you maintain consistent size and scale.

Go a step further and create a style guide for your in-context snaps too.

Make sure you include:

  • Color Palette
  • Saturation
  • Focal Length
  • Shadows
  • Composition
  • Location and Context
  • Consistency

Share your guide with everyone involved in your product shoots, and post a copy in your in-house studio for quick reference.

Having an image guide will not only save you money in the long run, but also save you lots of time as you won’t have to repeat the training processes.

Instead, you can focus on more profitable tasks, such as growing your business.

Optimizing Your Images (and Increasing SEO)

Source: Envira Gallery

Don’t forget to optimize your images so you get the best quality possible, while also making sure you don’t reduce page load speed.

Most platforms and marketplaces have their own set of photo editing requirements, so make sure you find out what yours are.

When it comes to your product page, every second counts and can hurt your conversion rate.

Make sure you implement free minifying tools to optimize your images, and shave off a few unnecessary kilobytes.

Finally, always make sure you name your images correctly, including as much relevant metadata and keywords as possible.

This additional detail helps search engines understand what is in the image, helping to improve your ranking giving you boost in organic traffic.

More traffic = more customers = more money.

Google just announced that beginning summer of 2018, mobile page load speed will be a ranking factor for mobile search results.

That means that your site needs to load fast – officially – or no one will be able to find it.

To account for this, BigCommerce has integrated Akamai Image Manager into the Stencil theme platform. This integration delivers lighter, faster images at the highest visual quality by optimizing each online image for device type, image quality and download size.

Improvements to customer engagement from faster loading images has been shown to improve conversion by up to 19% and cut image prep time by 25% in Akamai’s studies.

Our own BigCommerce study has found enabling Image Manager can improve page load speed by up to 70% in a closed beta in Q3 2017.

Test a Stencil theme now to see the difference.

All The Tools You Need to Get It Done (<$50)

The world of ecommerce is showing no sign of slowing down, and your product photos provide prospective customers a virtual window into your business.

There’s no doubt about it, visual content plays a huge part in online purchasing decisions.

Consumers are constantly being bombarded with information online, and have to make immediate decisions based on the content you choose to offer them.

To stand out, create polished, consistent images across your product pages and marketing channels.

Make sure you choose images that fortify your brand, as this will help boost conversions and ultimately sales.

Once you master the lighting, background, and editing process, you’ll be on your way to product photography perfection!

Here are all the tools mentioned in here to get it done.

  • A shooting table.
  • A light tent.
  • Studio light.
  • A tripod.
  • A camera (or your smartphone!).
  • Image editing tools.
    • Pixar.
    • Canva.
    • Motor.
    • Snapseed.
    • Pixc.
  • Photography guidelines for consistency.

Frequently Asked Product Photography Questions

What are the different types of product photography?

  1. Individual shots: A shot of your product (with a white background).
  2. Lifestyle shots: Shots of your product being used.
  3. Scale shots: Helps users get a better ideas of the size of the product.
  4. Detailed shots: A close up view to highlight specific product features.
  5. Group shots: Groups of products showcased together.
  6. Packaging shots: An image of the product’s packaging.

What equipment is needed for product photography?

  1. Camera: Smartphones will work, but higher quality cameras tend to help improve the look and feel of product photos.
  2. Lighting: Good light is key, ensure both natural and any artificial light sources are on point.
  3. White backdrop: A white backdrop (such as a light tent) will reflect light back onto your product and improve quality.
  4. Tripod: A tripod will reduce camera shake and overall quality of product photos.

Have any product photography lighting tips?

Below are some quick tips to improve your product photography lighting setup:

  1. Use at least two lights.
  2. Get two identical cool colored 5000K bulbs.
  3. Create a seamless white background with some white poster board taped to the bottom of a large clear plastic storage container that’s flipped onto its side.
  4. To make a product float, use thread from a standard sewing kit to elevate the product and then erase the thread in post processing.
  5. For reflection, place a small piece of plexiglass under the product.

Should I invest in professional product photography?

If you can afford it, yes.

Photos of your product both by themselves and in use are some of the most important merchandising and marketing efforts you do for your online brand.

Because consumers cannot touch or see your product in person, your product photography must do the trick.

If you can, hire a professional. If you can’t, this guide will walk you through how to bootstrap it for the time being.

How much does a product photographer cost?

Product photography rates range from $7 a photo to $50 for setup and $25/hour – or more.

You’ll need to work with various photographers to get the pricing model right for your needs and your type of products.

For instance, if you have a large catalog –– $7 per photo probably isn’t reasonable and you’d be better off with an hourly range. If you only have a few products, you’re likely better off with an hourly rate.

How to Create Ecommerce Product Videos That Sell and Convert

Want tips and examples of product videos? We have over 25 tips to increase trust, engagement and conversions, plus 17 product video examples of companies doing this extremely well.

For more tips on mastering product photography, check out our complete guide to ecommerce product photography.

Want more insights like this?

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