When it comes to selling goods online, a picture truly is worth 1,000 words and then some.
In fact, many consumers go straight to the product images when contemplating a sale online, even expecting as many as five to eight images per product depending upon their age, up from an average of three in 2016, according to a recent survey by Salsify.
“We live in an age of skimmers,” says Rob Gonzalez, a co-founder and marketing executive vice president at Salsify, an e-commerce technology company in Boston. “People aren’t reading in depth every word written on the product detail page. ... [Images give] them something concrete they can look at relatively quickly.” Consumers also expect a minimum of two videos, he says.
But, of course, this differs depending on the product. If you’re selling, say, an avocado, you don’t need six images, says Gonzalez, but multiple images would be important for high-end clothing or jewelry.
Brandy Sandin, owner of Northport-based bbeachyjewelry, a maker of sea glass jewelry, says images are critical to her selling online on Etsy and featuring her pieces on social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram.
She’ll often display her jewelry on a beachy item like a sand dollar or driftwood or on herself, with her face cropped out.
“I want them to be able to imagine themselves in it,” she says.
Sometimes if a piece isn’t selling, she’ll take new photos of it in a different setting.
“Sometimes that’s all it takes,” she says, noting she tries to post 10 images per product on Etsy, the maximum allowed.
With that many, “you have to get creative,” she says.
Many e-commerce software tools like Magento and WooCommerce allow you to set up photo galleries of multiple images, says John McHugh, president of Brainstorm Studio, a digital marketing agency in Melville.
They also allow you to incorporate features such as a zoom function, which can be important in helping a shopper see the details of the products, he says. A 360-degree view can also do a good job of helping consumers replicate that in-store experience. But keep in mind you may need special equipment, including software and a turntable, if you’re not hiring an agency to take the photos.
If you opt to do your own photography, artificial light is generally best because it’s more consistent in images than natural light, says McHugh.
“Consistency between images is key,” he says.
When it comes to taking your own product images, understand your limitations, says Chris Searles, president of Searles Media, a Yaphank digital media and marketing firm.
“Photography is about more than just the quality of the camera on your phone,” he says. It also means knowing the best way to frame a shot and edit your photos in a way that’s optimized for each channel you'll use (your own website, Instagram, Amazon, etc.).
If you’re not astute at all that, you may want to hire a professional photographer, says Searles.
He also advises equal care with your product descriptions, because they can help with search engine optimization. Make them as detailed as possible with relevant keywords that consumers may use in their searches.
“All things equal, if they’re not finding the detail they’re looking for on your website, but they find it somewhere else, that’s most likely the place they’ll buy it from,” says Searles.
Just don’t write a novel.
Write the product description with “skimming in mind,” featuring bullets, for example, says Gonzalez. That way “people are more likely to read them.”
When it comes to product images, shoppers aged 18-24 and 35-44 are the most demanding. These two groups expect eight images and four to five videos for each of your products.