eCommerce Essentials: Production

June 19, 2014

eCommerce is a great way to do business.  You don’t need to have a store front, you don’t need to employ loads of staff and you can sell 24 hours a day.  Unfortunately it’s not all good news for etailers.

One of the biggest challenges etailers face is their customers’ inability to touch, smell, try on and test their products.  That’s quite a problem! How can I buy a shirt without trying it on? How can I buy a packet of coffee beans without tasting the coffee first?  Many customers get put off by these questions because they cast doubt in the buyer’s mind over whether they will receive a product like the one they had pictured in their heads.

This is where the production team comes in.  It is their job to make sure your products look as attractive as possible.  It is also their job to make sure that there is enough relevant information available about your product.  With that taken care of your customer will have all they need to make a better purchasing decision from your online store.

IMAGES

Great product images are one of the most important tools in an etailer’s arsenal.  It is what can turn a ‘maybe’ into a ‘yes.’   There are a few things you should be doing as an etailer in order to ensure that you are giving your customer the best possible view of their prospective purchase.

The model shot (lifestyle shot) – If you sell clothes online then you’ve no doubt had the debate whether to shoot on models or not.  ALWAYS include a model shot.  This shot is very powerful as it allows your customer to see what the item looks like when it is being used (even more important since your customer is not afforded the luxury of trying on that pair of jeans they’re thinking of buying).  What’s more you don’t need to break the bank by hiring expensive models.  Get someone starting out in the industry to model your clothes for you.  Photoshop can crop the image at the neck, chin or wherever.

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The lifestyle shot has another benefit.  It allows your customer to get a true sense of the size of the product.  If you’re selling a watch add a picture of the watch on someone’s wrist.  If you’re selling a bag add a shot of it over someone’s shoulder.  You get the picture!

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Multiple product images – This is extremely valuable to your customer.  Not only does it give them a better look at what they’re buying but it may reveal features that would otherwise be hidden with a simple front-on shot.  This will help manage your customer’s expectations and make sure they’re not going to be disappointed when their product is delivered.

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Detail shots – Make sure you take an image of not only every detail of the product but also the material (if applicable).  Often when shopping for clothes online you could see two dresses that appear to be the same but have vastly different prices.  This could be because of the material it’s made from.  Give your customers a close up view of the material they’re about to buy, it can only work to your advantage as it provides them with a sense of what the product could feel like.

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Photoshop (post-production) – This is your last chance to improve what your customer sees.  Pay attention to detail and, to start off with, rather spend too much time editing your images than too little.  Get rid of creases, wrinkles and other imperfections.  In addition to this, make sure that the image is as close to the real thing as possible.  Make sure your use the product in the editing process.  Hold it up in the light to check the colour and make sure that the colour of your image matches the product exactly.  Remember almost anything is possible with photoshop so there are no excuses for anything less than perfect when it comes to image quality.

CONTENT

Great images are fantastic but they can’t do all the work.  Great content is required to supplement your images and provide your customers with even more information.  Keep it short, but more importantly keep it relevant.

Your writing style needs to be informative and to the point.  This is not a platform for you to give the customer your opinion.  Let them make up their own minds, just make sure they have all the necessary information to do so.  If you don’t you risk losing them to a competitor who did take the time to write up an informative product description.  Bullet points are perfectly acceptable for this purpose, plus it helps you steer clear of long-winded descriptions that more than often won’t get read.  Include details like materials, place of origin, fit, style, colour, care instructions, warrantee information, size and other specs. Obviously your description will vary depending on the vertical you’re in.

It’s also not a bad idea to use some key words in your writing to help customers find the product they’re looking for.  If you adopt this kind of method from an early stage you will have the ability to add hyperlinks or other category linking later on.  For example, if you’re selling a sweater mention the product category sweaters fall under on your site as well as the brand name.

Make sure you edit every description you put up.  This needs to be done by someone other than the author and with knowledge of what you’re selling so they can double check the information is relevant and accurate.

Great production is worth every bit of effort you put in.  Not only will it help your site stand and look good but it will also make sure that your customer is armed with the most information possible when making a purchase decision.  This will mean you can convert more interested visitors to your site into sales as well as limit the number of returns because your customer received something they weren’t expecting.  Basically, it will make you more money – so why wouldn’t you take the time to make sure you’re doing the best job possible?