Images and the value chain

Historically, images have only been part of marketing, i.e. profile images and product images have been taken primarily to promote the products, not to sell them. This starts with the brand that, through images, wants to display the excellence of their products and at the same time build the brand.

To the extent that retailers need images, they have used the supplier’s images or produced their own images. In the past, this was not a huge issue as not all products were photographed and most products where sold through physical stores. Only the top product range that build brand awareness and attracted consumers to the stores were produced.

Another way of looking at this is that images have never been an integral part of the product’s value chain. The product is manufactured, delivered to retailers who display the product in their store and get the consumer to buy it. This has clearly changed with the digitalization and development of e-commerce.

The image, part of the product

With e-commerce, the customer does not meet the product before it lands in the mailbox at the customer’s home. This means that the images become a central part of visualizing the product and all its properties.

This means that images should be regarded as a central part of the product and be regarded as a critical step in the value chain of the products life cycle. Her we see a conflict of interest between the retailors and the brands.

  1. Brands focus on marketing
  2. Retailors want images for e-commerce

Brands focus on marketing

Most brands seem to focus only on images for marketing purposes, not on product images that should work for many retailers in their ecommerce stores. It’s perhaps not surprising when we come from a world where images were only used for marketing purposes. A shift is underway, but many brands still seem to think that retailers must produce their own images if they want images other than those available for marketing. In cases where brands start thinking about product images for ecommerce, it seems to be driven by their own e-commerce efforts, and not to make it easier for their retailor partners.

Retailers want images for e-commerce

However, retailers think it goes without saying that brands should deliver product images together with the products they deliver, product images that work in e-commerce. Here there will be a clash between the different focuses of the brands and the retailers. In cases where the brands deliver product images to retailers, it is often images that need complicated and manual adaptation to suit the channels of the retailer. It is very rare that images are created that work directly in the retailors channel or that they are created to be easily adapted to the retailors channel. Retailors will often want to change the background, the size and padding to fit their specific site. Big sites like Zalando and Amazon can dictate image requirement but that is only because they are so big and dominating.

Consider images as part of the value chain

By considering the image as part of the product’s value chain, all parties can become winners. Through better dialogue and between the parties, brands can deliver images that can be easily and automatically be adapted to the needs of retailers.

By creating clear guidelines on images in your own channel(s), both brand and retailer can automate large parts of the customization work that still needs to be done. If the Brands can deliver good basic images without background, the retailer can automate the customizations, such as other background, padding, size, etc.

Through close collaboration, brands can take images for important retailers while they are photographing the collections for their own use. However, this requires good planning and clear guidelines with standardized delivery formats.

Fred Bertenstam

Fred Bertenstam

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