The ecommerce space is constantly transforming, with new technologies becoming available for brands and retailers to attract new and existing customers. The possibilities are endless, which is why the industry is becoming more and more competitive. Same day delivery options, catwalk videos and lower prices than ever before are making it impossible to stand out in the crowd.
Increasingly, consumers expect more from their online shopping experience and ecommerce sites are now coming to terms with the fact that a large number of visitors shop because they enjoy the experience, not always because they want to buy. Like so many examples of digital marketing reflecting the real world, this is no different to people ‘window shopping’ on a Saturday afternoon. Enjoying the experience can be guaranteed by mapping out the user journey (much like a bricks and mortar retailer will map out the floor and shelf layout), something that should be considered at the beginning of the website design process. Brands and retailers are essentially putting their feet in their customers’ shoes, to attempt to understand their way of thinking.
One way of ensuring your visitors enjoy their experience with you is to produce inspiring editorial photography. From an ecommerce perspective, the sites that convert more visitors to buyers are those that carry engaging imagery that keeps them coming back until they are ready to buy. A shopper wants to know if the brand or product reinforces the image they have of themselves, or indeed shapes who they are. Will they belong more to their tribe if they use this product from this brand?
This kind of photography allows you to build a closer bond with your customers by giving them the material they are interested in that reflects their lifestyle and interests. For example, the Vector Watch site we launched last year was produced as more than an online sales channel. Our aim was to tell Vector’s story through contextually relevant editorial photography throughout the customer journey.
For Vector, it was important to relate to their customers and make that emotional connection. The industry they are tapping into still remains extremely tech-heavy, smartwatches in the past have always been about the specifications and usability. Vector wanted to break these boundaries and create a smartwatch that could become an important part of the user’s lives, and make everything more convenient and simple.
With this in mind, while completing the ecommerce project for Vector we brought in Christopher Jenny and Clementine O’Hara to create visually stunning images for the online store. Our Creative Director worked with the team at Vector to produce editorial images that inspired and connected them with their customers. We asked them to produce high definition photos to help the brand gain trust and convince customers that the products are worth buying.
James Carson of Econsultancy said in his report ‘Fashion Ecommerce and Content Marketing’:
Perhaps the most noticeable macro-trend in the industry was that everyone I reviewed had moved to a white/black colour user experience and relied on large photos. This isn’t too surprising given the wider trend to responsive layouts, but it was nonetheless quite interesting in an industry where it’s often difficult to offer a unique selling point. The product photography, particularly when curated in lookbook style experience, was one of the most important positioning statements by a given website.
This lookbook style experience is popular with brands and retailers, Zara and NastyGal in particular produce amazingly high quality photography for their online stores. Cementing them as strong brand advocates that know their identity through-and-through. Why wouldn’t customers buy into this?
Alongside strong editorial photography that tells a story, Vector wanted to really show off their beautiful products. We sourced Happy Finish, a high-end production agency, to create CGIs and videos of the smartwatches that were honest and truthful to the real thing. Almost like picking them up in a shop to examine texture and materials. The customers can zoom in as much as they wanted to view the products before making the purchase, establishing a trustworthy relationship between brand and consumer.
Technically, editorial campaign photography sits under the ‘marketing’ umbrella and although used in ecommerce, these images will be used across many other platforms too. An additional must-have for an online store is ecommerce specific photography, like the J.Crew example below. These groups of images generally consist of frontal, profile and back-facing shots with additional close-ups and colour variations as necessary.
Showing different angles against a white background has been the standard approach to ecommerce since the advent of online sales. Many companies have also used mouse “rollovers” to show different views of the clothing without going into the detail page.
As in any type of online conversion scenario, the goal is to remove any doubt from the viewers’ minds. If a visitor thinks the product might not look good in real life, the rollover image is there to prove otherwise. In recent years, some retailers have added video to the arsenal of images to get increasingly closer to “real life.”
The reality is that unless you’re a company like Zara or J.Crew that has its own editorial team, the chances are that you won’t have these editorial photography skills in-house. So this means either buying this in or finding a partner to work with. As a new company, Vector required external partners to create imagery that communicated who they are; modern, contemporary, stylish and innovative.
Whichever way you go, get it right and it can be one of the most powerful tools in creating a unique brand personality that excites visitors and differentiates your site from the competition, and at the bottom line; drives more sales.
Written by Ruth Elliott