Product can make or break a retailer – and if product display pictures are used correctly, they can be effective brand ambassadors. David Brint, CEO at imaging and workflow specialist SpinMe, offers three tips for creating a compelling and consistent imaging strategy to help customers make informed purchasing decisions.
As retailers fight harder for attention in an increasingly dynamic and complex online marketplace, a distinctive visual identity has become a necessity. Setting a brand apart in a consumer’s mind requires more than a selection of inspiring lifestyle shots on the homepage, but the creation of a compelling and consistent strategy that permeates the website and extends to digital marketing campaigns.
1. Be consistent
If a retail website needs to operate in the same way as a store, customers should be able to stroll through the aisles to get a feel for what’s on offer before deciding on a specific item. Shoppers looking for a two-seater sofa, for example, will most likely click back and forth across pages to assess the range, and visit other retailer sites to compare.
This close attention means product display pages need to be styled in a uniform way, otherwise the browsing experience is jarring. Pureplay furniture retailer MADE.com does design well. It offers the same number and selection of shots throughout its sofa category, including various views of the piece of furniture, a detail shot, lifestyle image and a helpful line drawing with measurements, all of which inspire pre-purchase confidence for the shopper.
Also, unlike some retailers that tend to squeeze product images into half a page or less, MADE.com doesn’t skimp on space and utilises the entire page to showcase its furniture. The studio shots are all large and high quality, and they are also shot on the same neutral palette that’s used throughout the site – keeping the pages in tune with its overall branding.
It could be argued that it’s easier to create a uniform look if you’re a retailer in a specialist sector. However, luxury department store Selfridges proves it is possible to produce a coherent site despite an extensive and varied catalogue. There are over 4,000 different shoes on its web store, from multiple suppliers. By presenting them in an identical way, the store’s unique visual style is carried through from the homepage and stamped firmly on every product page.
Selfridges’ identity is conveyed well through across its social media sites too, with a clearly defined mission statement as its banner image and memorable content that aligns with the way it styles its onsite imagery. Picking the right channels and communicating with consistency is key to gaining trust and building loyalty.
2. Be inspiring
Many shoppers arrive online looking for inspiration, so product imagery needs to be able spark the imagination as well as provide practical information.
The easiest way to achieve this is to enhance images. Most online retailers offer a tool that allows the customer to zoom in on an image, but how about enabling the image to be manually manipulated 360 degrees so it can be seen from all angles, as ao.com does with its range of home appliances.
Adding video content immerses customers further into a brand, makes a website memorable and increases confidence. In highly competitive sectors such as home electronics, customers are driven by price but are also keen to gather as much information as possible before they buy. Argos includes a helpful video alongside its product display images, which allows it to go into detail about a product’s specification.
Meanwhile, shoe retailer Schuh gives parents useful advice in video form on how to fit children’s shoes, on its product pages for toddler trainers.
Embedding videos alongside a good selection of product shots in this way allows both Schuh and Argos to assert themselves as experts in their field and build customer trust.
3. Be bold
Brand identity is a retailer’s outward-facing persona – how it portrays itself and how it would like to be perceived by consumers. Product imagery offers retailers a way to express their personality. Take Nike, where the sense of athleticism seen on its homepage imagery is continued onto product pages via high-energy shots.
The White Company has an equally strong, if quieter look that reverberates throughout its web store. As with Nike, wherever customers land onsite, the retailer will offer a comforting sense of familiarity.
Similarly, product images blend seamlessly with the overall tone and design of The White Company’s email newsletters.
A brand’s identity stems from strongly rooted values and culture, and is the sum of all experiences customers have across digital touchpoints. The more in sync the visual messages, the more the branding will resonate
Consumers like novelty, so keep digital marketing campaigns fresh. Keep product shots in line with overall brand direction and conversions will rise. If they are out of tune, shoppers may go elsewhere.
By David Brint