Space48
November 20, 2020

Bringing Product Photography to Life on Ecommerce Websites

We’re testing Product Visualisation Software. Here’s what we’ve discovered so far.

What’s next for product photography on ecommerce websites?

When it all boils down to it, product visuals are the star players of on-page content. Without it, keyword-rich content, competitive pricing, and compelling discounts are redundant. 

The general rule of thumb is to stick to the following:

  • No blurry imagery. It looks and feels unprofessional.
  • Showcase the product from various angles.
  • Use a plain white background to keep the focus on the product. Or use “lifestyle imagery” – it can work wonders.
  • Include a zoom feature. To help with product inspection.
  • Optimise your image alt.text with keywords. For SEO purposes.

Getting your imagery right is essential. Ultimately, If your customer can’t picture (quite literally) your product in their lives, then you simply won’t sell. 

That’s the brilliant thing about stores. They allow your customers to feel the product. To use their senses to determine the quality and value of your product. This is particularly important for considered purchases with high product price points. Replicating such an emotive response to a product is difficult to achieve online. 

Achieving best-in-class UX

Beyond adopting the best practices cited above, brands have got around the problem by leveraging User Generated Content (UGC). The logic that informs the use of UGC is that we trust in the recommendations of our friends or influencers. 

Similarly, brands are making a greater push of product reviews. Strategically placing them front and centre of product pages.

And for those who have adopted a best-in-breed experience, brands have begun implementing sophisticated 3D and AR technologies deployed by companies such as Threekit to help customers see products in their home. 

Unfortunately, for many merchants, it’s a huge effort to get product photography completely redone in the form of 3D models. And while the ambition is evident, and the need for a more advanced form of product photography is understood and valued, there is a middle-ground that is left untouched.

Until now. 

Practical steps towards 3D

The need to find a bridge between static images and advanced 3D rendering sprung from working with a merchant in the Home and Garden Sector – that had incredibly vibrant product photography. Their goal was to do more to bring their experience to life. 

On social media, this bridge is already being crossed. For some time now, Facebook has introduced 3D photo functionality, which has grown in popularity as mobile phone hardware has become more advanced, and mobile purchases more ubiquitous.

We wondered, is there a way we can bring something like this to our merchant’s sites? So we tested it out. 

After some hunting around, we came across a research paper that generated similar results to Facebook, but with greater relevance for ecommerce retailers and product visualisation on-site. 

Kindly, this research team also released the code open source. Meaning that after a little work, we were able to use it ourselves to prototype some videos for our merchants.  Here are some examples of what the product listing page and product detail page could look like for partner, Cox and Cox.

 

We’re really excited with the result and feel that this has a lot of potential. This prototype shows us that this application of machine learning can provide customers with a more immersive experience without merchants having to invest heavily in 3D modelling. Worthy of further investigation? Let us know what you think!

Here’s a summary, courtesy of our Innovation Director, Tom Robertshaw: