Images are an extremely important component in online marketing and sales, nothing sells today without image. Images are also used throughout the sales cycle, from creating interest in the brand and on-line shop to carrying out the sale.
This increases the pressure to be able to deliver images when the market needs them, it can be for a particular event, a promotion or to a specific market. Before e-commerce took off, the production of product images looked very different throughout the value chain and images were primarily used for marketing and for creating brand awareness.
We can note three clear trends as e-commerce has grown:
- Products have a shorter lifespan
- Many more images are required
- The time for studio work is getting shorter
Product lifecycle speeds up
Fast fashion has for many years focused on a short product life cycle and companies such as H&M and ZARA have specialized in just that. These companies are not at the forefront of the development of new fashion products, but they are extremely receptive to what the market wants and is quick to adapt to what customers are asking for.
Nowadays, they also start using AI to predict what customers want before they know what they want. An example of this is the Shein brand, which can design and deliver new products in a matter of days. This creates completely new demands on the industry to quickly create new images of the products, which is a prerequisite for e-commerce.
Here it becomes important to know exactly how each product should be visualized: simple and inexpensive products with few images; or complex and expensive products with many images. Clear guidelines and good ordering documentation for the studio minimizes administrative work and manual routines. This in turn cuts costs and lead times and removes boring tasks from an otherwise creative job.
Many more images are required
E-commerce requires all products to be visualized, not just on the top range that was common in the past. In addition to several more images, perhaps also videos and/or 360° images are needed.
Images are not only used as part of the marketing effort to get customers to like the brand and go to a store. In e-commerce, images are needed to show the product itself, its specific characteristics and how it should be used. All this is required to get the customer to purchase the product and feel comfortable with the purchases.
With good planning and efficient production methods, it is possible to increase the number of images and visual elements without the cost skyrocketing. However, it is important to review the creative process with an industrial approach. Removing manual routines and lowering the knowledge thresholds in production becomes critical to succeed.
Studio time is getting shorter
When the time from drawing board to finished product becomes shorter, it places demands on the studio work, it simply must be faster. Digitalization also requires images of the products earlier in the value chain. What could previously be displayed through physical sales meetings will today take place via digital sales conferences.
If you are a brand with your own products, the studio should be able to quickly produce images for sales conferences, promotions, digital events, etc. For retailers it is even worse, they should preferably have images of the entire range ready before the products enter the warehouse. Many people express the need to get samples to the studio as soon as the range is agreed. In cases where there are physical stores, it may be that the products do not make it to the studio before they end up on store shelves. The products must then be taken from store to studio and then sent back. The pressure on the studio often becomes tough with very short lead times.
Through good planning and having good information of where all the samples are, the studio may be well prepared when the products arrive and take photos immediately upon arrival. With good processes, the images can be passed on to retouch and quickly delivered to the e-commerce site. The samples can go on to the warehouse, the store, or possibly to profile photography.