So you've finally decided to do it; with your recently penned business plan in hand you've ventured out into the wild seas of commerce, going it alone and being your own boss.
Amidst all the excitement and waves of hopeful energy, you'll more than likely consider having a website built. However much you had budgeted for your own piece of digital real estate, it will almost certainly cost more. Most new start owners see it as a necessary cost of business and can shell out anywhere between £100 to £15,000 for a shiny new website. Throw an e-commerce functionality into your web designs and you can see your invoices rocket north of £30k depending on how complicated you need the system to be.
More often than not, it's only when your website is nearing its 'go live' date that the topic of 'Content' moves to the forefront. In simple terms, when you commission a website to be built, your web developer will build you a picture frame; but it's what you place inside that frame that really determines how successful your site will be. But how much should you budget for it?
All too often the answer to that question is 'zero'. Filling your website with content is the one thing we feel we can do ourselves and while that may be true for text content, you might want to think about raising your game when it comes to images, particularly if you're selling something.
Devoid of being able to touch and smell your products, E-commerce customers buy with their eyes first, words second. Your images need to grab attention and induce interest, then your words need to convince them to buy your item/service. So being that first impressions really do count in e-commerce, you need to give your products the best chance possible of engaging with your audience.
Taking pictures of your products on dimly lit, domestic kitchen surfaces isn't going to portray your products in an attractive way. You might just end up with a descriptive image that shows everything you need to show, and it may well look 'ok', but what are you really saying about your business?
While this first image shows the garment basically as it is, to prospective customers it's also saying that the seller hasn't put any effort into presenting their product; with that comes a lack of confidence that it's being sold by a genuine business. No confidence will probably result in no sale. There is also an issue of not being able to create empathy with your product; you'll stand a much better chance of gaining a sale if your customers can see themselves wearing or using your items. Poor images give little opportunity for customers to visualise themselves living with your products; and you really need them to do that if you want them to proceed all the way through checkout.
This second image of the same item tells a very different story. It's giving all the same basic visual information as the first image, plus it shows the garment as it could look when worn, so it's easy for viewers to visualise themselves wearing it, an important step in getting your customers to buy. Brighter, vibrant colours are instantly more appealing and the higher level of detail shows off the fabrics' texture, so you have a much clearer idea of what you're buying. It also says that you're a serious business; you're invested in your products and want to show them in their best light.
Given the relatively high level of investment needed to obtain an effective website structure, it's a shame to see so many small businesses placing poor imagery into their domains, especially when good quality professional photography can be had for mere pounds.
There's good reason you won't see any major brands with product imagery that looks like it's been taken on an iPhone in someone's garage; they know it won't help sell their items and may even damage the public perception of their businesses.
So do as the big hitters do, get serious and invest in your products. You might be surprised at how affordable it can be to raise the level of your business, simply by having better pictures.