All posts by Will Brown

Product Photography

The Evolution of Product Photography

Don’t you hate it when the thing you need to say is so easily summed up with a tired cliché. Well, here it goes… A picture is worth a thousand words. There, I said it. In the case of e-commerce product photography and conversion, it is an unavoidable truth. For e-commerce brands far and wide, conversion is the lifeblood and presenting potential customers with an experience that does the product full justice is the means to that lifeblood.

All of this sounds pretty obvious, but in many cases we still don’t see e-tailers using product visibility to its full potential. One reason for this phenomenon is the fact that for some brands a photograph doesn’t convey the most ideal “thousand words”.

In a recent conversation with a local running shoe startup, we uncovered an interesting pain point. They have struggled with presenting their product in a way that that says enough but not too much. For example, they had tried traditional photography practices (2-3 angles) and a short blurb about product features, but what they found was that this approach wasn’t quite sufficient for more technically inclined runners who visited the page. Their products featured some really innovative construction and materials that differentiated them greatly from brands that could, to the undiscerning eye, be seen as comparable products. That’s when this company decided to take a different approach.

They decided to reduce the number of photos and ramp up the amount of detailed technical specs on their product pages. As you can imagine, to the layperson, deciphering the “arch angle, outsole contour and its correlation to your stride” requires a couple trips to trusty Google.com. So here they were…Stuck between too much information and minimalphotographs that show the true features of a product, an all-too-common problem that many e-commerce brands face.

The answer to this problem lies in yet another tired cliché: “Show, don’t tell”. If enough product specs can be visually conveyed, then there is no need for lengthy product descriptions. The customer should experience the difference as opposed to just reading about it.

 

The Information-to-Photograph Ratio

Our CEO, Darrick Morrison, in his work with an online retailer, once was tasked with identifying the optimal “information-to-photograph” ratio. What he found was that shoppers gravitate towards visibility. In A/B testing across thousands of products in dozens of verticals, the data told an interesting story. If a product page has a single image, customers appear skeptical of the product’s integrity and value. Often times a single image won’t do a product justice and many customers pass on buying online and go to a store. This phenomenon is commonly known as webrooming.

And that’s if the sale is made at all, in other words,“cart abandonment”. According to one study, people who abandon a cart more than once are 2.6x more likely to buy. But what if the sale could be made the first time around, sooner, and with less visits back to the cart?The only exception to this study Morrison found is when it relates to products that are standardized and commoditized, for instance, toilet paper.

 

Multiple Images

Multiple shots, on the other hand, provided a huge bump in the customer’s confidence in a product, leading to a boost in the conversion rate. The fact that conversions rose was not the surprising part; the amount of the increase was astounding. When products can be viewed from multiple angles, consumers feel more secure in their expectations of the product, thus leading to a higher propensity to buy.

 

360-Degree Video

The next variable he tested was 360-degree product video. This category consists of product demonstration videos or 360-degree stitch photography, where the user can spin a product on a single axis. Again, the research found that product pages equipped with these assets saw even more of a conversion jump. From doubling to quadrupling, product videos are any business’s friend when they want to sell online. The same story was told in product returns. Returns can be a huge pain point and profit slasher for even the most established online stores. The inverse relationship between product visibility and returns allows retailers to hold onto the revenue that those increases in conversion have brought in.

 

An Interactive 3D Product Experience for E-commerce

Darrick’s findings are not just intriguing; they obviously have real business application. The next milestone for Darrick was to point out the next technology that would raise conversion, decrease returns and blow the mind of online shoppers. He asked “What would allow customers to fully interact with the product and mimic the in-store experience online?” and “What would allow the brands to provide more information for the spec-driven consumer while maintaining an optimal user interface and seamless experience?” And that’s about the time when Darrick gave birth to his beautiful new baby, prizmiq. You can read a little more about why interactive 3D product photography is good for your product from the comfort of this very blog.

 

The more comfortable a consumer is with a product, the more likely they are to buy. With online shopping forecasted to grow and grow over the coming years, it will be interesting to see how e-commerce practices evolve. Perhaps going to the mall will involve sitting down at your computer and putting on a virtual reality headset and browsing the aisles of your favorite boutique. The future of interactive online shopping is coming and coming quick…are you ready?

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Outdoor Retailer 2014: Our Debut Appearance

Oh yes, It’s that time of year again. The time where the great outdoors’ finest brands descend on Salt Lake City to show off their latest and greatest. That’s right, its time for the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market trade show and open air demo. An array of products from good ‘ole camping, climbing and fishing standards to the hot new “gottahaveit” items will be on display for thousands of eager attendees.

3D Product Imaging’s own Amaris Morrison will be hitting the booths of Outdoor Retailer in search of the next great product to bring into the third dimension. Could it be a carabineer? Perhaps a tomahawk? Maybe even some elk jerky?! One thing is certain: a few lucky exhibitors will be dazzled by our technology and inducted into the futuristic realm of e-tailing.

We are all looking forward to hearing updates from the conference that runs from the 6th to the 9th of August. And if we are lucky those of us back home might get some of that elk jerky. For more info on the trade show, visit www.outdoorretailer.com.

Dentist

The Most Boring Virtual Reality Experiences: A Trip to the Dentist

To kick off, I would love to start with an experience that already has drool dripping on my shirt, or rather, a paper bib. You guessed it: it’s America’s second favorite pastime, visiting your friendly neighborhood DDS or dental professional. The experience begins in your living room, the moment an automated voice calls your home phone (yes, the one solely reserved for telemarketers) and reminds you of your inconveniently scheduled appointment in vivid stereo audio. Screen fades to black. Now, imagine yourself in a pastel waiting room with 1998’s finest art hanging on every dreary wall. The receptionist clacks away on a keyboard as the incredibly realistic hum and bubble of a sparsely populated fish tank plunges you in this most virtual of realities.

You reach for one of the magazines you would never dream of subscribing to on the side table to your right – the pages crinkled almost like dozens have turned those very pages before.  You thumb through the pictures of holiday roast recipes despite it being early August. That’s when your full birth name is called. “How strange to hear my full name being called as I’ve gone by a nickname for most of my life,” you think. That’s when the real fun begins.

As you are guided back to the dentist’s chair, your heart flutters with jubilant anticipation of having someone scrape your teeth with a metal hook. Then, there you are, in the most stunning 1080p staring at slightly textured ceiling panels while an unforgiving florescent light bathes your eyes in its unnatural glow. This portion of the experience has no set time limit – which is the thrilling part. It’s just you, the ceiling, and the scraping noises. Occasionally, the dentist will ask you open-ended questions about your personal life or work, to which you play along and give your best answers with the back of your throat while your mouth hangs agape.

After dozens of thrilling minutes the dentist murmurs something about flossing more and just like that, you visit is over. You’re handed a lifelike bag with a new toothbrush in it and you are on your way. The picture within the Oculus slowly fades to black and the credits roll. You sigh and realize your first encounter with the most realistic virtual reality is over already.

But seriously. You do need to floss more.

Check out other “Most Boring Virtual Reality Experiences” posts.