The importance of e-commerce photography in online shopping

The importance of e-commerce photography in online shopping

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April 4, 2023

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More traditional ways to shop or advertise a product are changing as customers look to be more immersed in the experience and more engaged with the product they buy.

E-commerce photography is playing a big part in this shift, and this blog will unpack how and why brands are catching onto it and making crucial advancements.

Key takeaways

  • As customer expectations evolve, brands can no longer stand out with traditional e-commerce photography
  • Including augmented reality technology into the buyer journey is a smart way to elevate the shopping experience 
  • Brands such as ByLogstrup and Wayfair are deploying innovative ways to leverage technologies popular with the Gen Z consumer base

Unlike in-store shopping, online shopping cannot offer a tactile experience to buyers. This is why e-commerce photography plays a big role in the purchase journey.  

Customers rely on pictures depicting what a product looks like before making a decision to buy it. The research backs this up, with 75% of online shoppers needing product photos to decide on a purchase.

But as technology blurs the lines between the real-world and virtual realms, traditional e-commerce photography is falling short on giving customers all the data they need about a product.

Drawbacks of traditional e-commerce photography 

1. Costly

Traditional e-commerce photography requires a store to hire professional photographers. These professionals capture and then edit product pictures, which get added to product descriptions. Given that brands need e-commerce photography for a large number of products, this can be a significant cost. 

2. Time-consuming

From scheduling product photoshoots to ensuring each product is captured from the right angles, this takes time. Further, e-commerce photography involves heavy editing to drive product interest. This requires additional manpower and hours to deliver product photos which pique customer interest.

3. Impersonal 

Today’s online buyer expects personalization in marketing efforts, but traditional e-commerce photography cannot meet this demand.

Customers want to engage with products in a personal way even before clicking ‘buy’, so brands looking to stay relevant in the digital age must upgrade.

Augmented reality and 3D visualization: The ‘try before you buy’ method

Augmented reality (AR) allows customers to view products in a 3D setting. It adds a layer of digital content over the real-world environment to deliver immersive experiences to customers. This allows customers to interact with the product as if they were in-store.

Customers can virtually ‘try on’ products to make a purchase decision. These features make AR integration essential for the modern e-commerce store.

1. Improved product visualization

AR removes uncertainty from the purchase decision by improving product visualization. With 3D product rendition, customers get a clear idea about the product’s features. For example, they are able to accurately understand the size, color, and materials used. 

2. Educating customers about product

Mercedes Benz has introduced an AR-enabled mobile app to help customers better navigate a car’s features. Instead of flipping through a manual, car owners can now simply open this mobile app. 

Next, they point their camera at the controls, and all related information (including how-to videos and virtual guides) appear instantly.

3. Personalized customer journeys

By empowering customers to visualize a product in their own space, AR delivers a highly personalized journey. Take Sephora’s Virtual Assistant for example, which allows customers to try on products such as eye shadow, concealer, lipsticks and more. 

This helps a customer understand how the product will suit their needs, allowing them to pick the right one.  

4. Better user engagement

Snapchat’s survey finds that 92% of customers say they’re interested in using AR for shopping. AR content can increase conversion rates by 94% and reduce return rates by 25%.

These numbers indicate what the new customer base expects from brands and clearly incorporating AR translates to better brand visibility and user engagement.

These features of AR help brands improve their reach while reducing return rates. 

How does augmented reality benefit brands?

1. Increased customer satisfaction

AR helps customers understand the product through its 3D e-commerce photography. Customers can rotate it, zoom in, zoom out, and even visualize products on themselves physically, or within their own home. This helps them gain confidence in their purchase and boosts the chances of customer satisfaction. 

2. Enhances brand image

AR is now being expected by customers when they shop. Snapchat’s report finds that brands are 41% more likely to be considered if they have a branded AR experience. Further, 94% of Gen Z customers say they’ll use AR the same or more when shopping in the future.

Brands that offer AR-enabled customer journeys automatically scale up in customer preferences. 

3. Competitive advantage

Snapchat’s survey finds that over half of Gen Z consumers say they’d pay more attention to an AR advertisement. 

An example of this is a clever advertising campaign by Pepsi Max. They converted a London bus stop’s walls into AR screens, delivering immersive visuals to commuters as they waited for the bus. These ranged from UFOs in the sky to robots on the street. As a result, Pepsi Max saw a 35% YoY rise in sales

Brands in focus: ByLogstrup, and Wayfair 

1. ByLogstrup

ByLogstrup, the Danish outdoor kitchen brand, caught on to what customers missed the most; the ‘feeling’ part of the buying experience. This prompted them to consider incorporating AR into their buyer journey.

The brand partnered with Enhance and witnessed a 600% increase in sales compared to the previous year. 

2. Wayfair

Wayfair’s View in Room is another great example of how brands are driving their customer journeys with augmented reality in the furniture sector.

With this app, customers can visualize the brand’s offering in their own spaces. All customers have to do is position the camera and select the product. The digital overlay of the product helps customers visualize how the product will look in their homes. 

“AR/VR is certainly a space we’ve been playing with for quite a while now, and we do believe that over time it can have a meaningful impact in terms of making it easier to shop for your home from your home.” - Steven Conine, Co-founder and Co-chairman of Wayfair

How can e-commerce platforms integrate augmented reality?

The first step toward integrating AR technology into the buyer journey is reviewing your business goals. This will help you narrow down a list of AR tools. Once you find the one that suits your needs, it is time to market it aggressively. 

Joining forces with the right partner is crucial to delivering memorable customer journeys.

By leveraging 3D AR technology, Enhance helps brands curate superior customer experiences. Further, by offering customer interaction insights, it helps brands understand their audience better. Enhance takes e-commerce photography to the next level, creating interactive customer journeys.

Wrapping up 

The Snapchat Consumer AR Global Report 2021 found that over 50% of people want to use AR technology to examine products. Further, nearly three in every four consumers are willing to pay more for products that promise an AR experience. 

The world is moving towards a visual economy where the volume, quality, and interactivity of product images define the shopping experience. Traditional e-commerce photography cannot keep up with this rapidly evolving landscape, but AR is showing the way. 

As consumer expectations grow to include personalization and transparency, brands must look to meet these efficiently, and the way to do it is by integrating AR into their customer journeys.

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