Making E-Commerce Product Photos Communicate the Experience of a Retail Store

Making E-Commerce Product Photos Communicate the Experience of a Retail Store

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Let’s begin with a small comparison between the e-commerce store experience and brick-and-mortars:

S. No. E-commerce Brick-and-mortars
1. Accessible anywhere. Customers can shop from the comfort of home or on the go. Customers have to visit the store when it’s open.
2. Customers can view the entire collection of products, search for specific items, and compare prices, deals and related products in one place. Customers have to traverse the breadth of the store to look for specific products and compare them, and may have to seek the assistance of the staff.
3. Relies on photos and videos to convey the look and feel of the product. Offers the sensory pleasure of looking, feeling and trying out products.
4. Can show products in context, so customers know what it will look like and where it can be used. Customers can try out products to see what they look like and enlist the help of store staff to figure out how things work.
5. Delivery of products depend on shipping, and same-day-delivery costs extra. Products bought can be taken home immediately.
6. If the product isn’t what the customer expected they may return it but they lose time sending it by post or may not be able to return it at all. Depending on store policy, products may or may not be returned or exchanged. If it is allowed, customers can get a replacement immediately if stock is available.
7. Customers can read reviews and feedback about products and make informed decisions. Customers have to rely on their own judgement or on word-of-mouth for reviews.
8. Enquiries can be made on live chat, or through e-mail etc. Enquiries can be made immediately at the store to shop assistants.
9. Refunds are easy to manage as the money comes back to the payment source. Customers have to visit the store to claim a refund.


While e-commerce is booming and doesn’t look like it is going to lose momentum any time soon, the biggest challenge that the industry faces is that customers don’t get the brick-and-mortar experience of holding, feeling, trying out and looking at the product from different angles, and then taking it home immediately. Many big e-commerce retailers offer the option of trial-and-returns. However, for someone to even place the order on a product, they still need some kind of alternative to the sensory pleasure that retail stores offer. And this substitute can come in the form of product photographs.

When the photos are well-shot, clear and taken from multiple perspectives, they showcase the product as best as it can be. Add a little SEO optimisation and they are ready! And all this can be done on a low budget!


How good photos can draw better sales

Even though e-commerce is storming the retail world, you will still find that many people head off to retail stores to shop. Or there are certain industries that see larger footfall in the e-commerce sphere than certain others. [The table above shows you the enticing points in retail stores that e-commerce faces challenges with.]

So the product photos that you put up on your website aren’t there just to show customers what the product is; they need to recapture the emotions associated with touching, feeling, texture and the in-store experience of shopping at a brick-and-mortar, along with the value of the product and why it is the answer they seek.

Therefore, just slapping on a few pictures won’t cut it. Photos that are planned and used intentionally convey all those qualities that make it exciting for shoppers to shop online. Good product photos can convince shoppers to buy, or at least to see the brand in favourable light and make them want to explore what they offer.


Ways to use product photos to create the tactile store experience and tell a story

Scenario: You are displaying a charm bracelet

  1. Use a high-res photo that shows the customer the standard product shot – bracelet with little charms dangling off it. The close-up shot allows customers to view every detail of the design, and even see the textural markings of the material.

[Related read: The vade mecum for social media image sizing]

  1. Then show the product in use so customers can visualise themselves using it. For instance, you can display the bracelet on the wrist of a girl. The focus is the bracelet but the image inspires style ideas – what clothes and other accessories can you wear it with, how do you match it with clothes or bags, what is the appropriate setting for this article (casual, formal, beachy, sporty etc.)

[Related Read: Top 5 Instagram marketing tips for fast-growing e-commerce companies]

  1. Lastly, show it next to something else. This gives viewers some perspective, helping them understand the size, utility, how it can be paired with another one of your products etc.
  2. [Additionally] You could also provide product shots from multiple angles (e.g. top view, side view, at an angle, 360° photos etc.), and display the different colours or additional charms that it comes with, with the option to zoom the pictures to give customers the feel of it.

As you can see, with just a minimum of 3 photos you can showcase the product and its features, you evoke emotion and make it tangible in the mind without actual tactility, and you capture the spirit of your brand.

Additionally, you can also use videos strategically to enhance the experience. Get your videos looking professional on different social media as well as the website to see what a world of difference they can make!