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VOL. 41 | NO. 9 | Friday, March 03, 2017

E-commerce sites depend on photographs

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The secret to inspiring visitors to purchase from your e-commerce platform is equal parts art and science.

The science is your technology – how the e-commerce platform functions. Continuous improvements in functionality on your site are necessary to meet the growing demands of consumers.

Beyond an e-commerce platform that works, consumers expect real-time inventory updates of available products. They count on the ability to filter products by several user-friendly criteria. If you’re selling clothing, for example, consumers may desire to filter products by size, occasion, length, price or consumer rating.

The first time they see a product on the screen, they expect an immediate indicator of colors or style variations available without additional clicks. Also, when they see multiple products in a photo, they want the ability to purchase all items pictured from the same screen easily.

Consumer confidence in your products grows exponentially higher with visible consumer ratings. Sans ratings, you’ll see higher shopping cart abandon rates, especially among new consumers. This will needlessly drive up the cost of new customer acquisition.

Consumers can be influenced by up-sell recommendations if they are relevant and conveniently viewable during the shopping process. When viewing a particular product page, show consumers complementary products often purchased along with the featured product.

Lastly, many consumers will lose confidence if taken to a third-party credit card processing site instead of using your secure site.

When it comes to the art of e-commerce, photography can make or break you. If you can’t cost-justify an investment in compelling photography, then you should carefully consider if you’re ready to invest in marketing designed to drive traffic to your e-commerce platform. The ratio of site traffic to purchases will likely be entirely too low.

When it comes to online shopping, consumers aren’t very forgiving to smaller companies with limited budgets. They are comparing the quality of your product photos to those of your largest competitor. Be objective. How do yours stack up?

While photography requirements vary widely by the product category you’re in, consider if your product shots have depth, complimentary lighting, and good perspective and balance. Do they show the product in use, which allows consumers to visualize owning it, are they staged to demonstrate the desired lifestyle of your targeted buyers, and are there enough photos to balance natural consumer anxiety over buying a new brand online? The bottom line is you need a professional.

While certainly the magic e-commerce formula for converting a respectable percentage of site visitors into customers varies by industry, the details do matter. If you’re unsure what your customers expect of your e-commerce platform, partner with a market research firm that can provide you with objective consumer insights.

Lori Turner-Wilson, CEO and founder of RedRover Sales & Marketing Strategy, can be reached at redrovercompany.com.