Online shopping is easy, but so are returns. And returns are costly for any business. That is one reason product images for e-commerce websites are so important to the e-commerce retailer.

By having quality images that accurately portray a product, allow consumers to zoom in and examine the materials and let them see the quality, they will know what to expect. These types of images not only reduce returns, they increase sales and profits.

People new to online sales often hope of finding free product images for e-commerce websites. But you can’t just Google a product and use the images you find. They may belong to a competitor and/or you would likely need a license to use the photo on your website or in your e-commerce store.


So where do retailers find the perfect product images for their e-commerce websites?

small business product photography

Manufacturer Product Photos:

Product manufacturers often have product photos an e-commerce retailer may use. It is in their best interest to supply them, since they will help the retailer make sales, which profit both of you.

If they don’t have images they can send you, they will likely allow you to download or scan the images on their websites or in their catalogs.

While this seems like a great solution, there is a problem with manufacturer photos. For proof of that, do a few searches on Amazon.

Amazon retailers who use manufacturer product photos all blend together. There is nothing unique about the product offering and you’ll end up competing on price.

Manufacturer photos don’t stand out, they don’t represent you or your brand. While they may fine on a stand alone website, in an online e-commerce marketplace, they are not much help.

In House Product Photography:

Another way retailers get product images for e-commerce websites is to take them using their own camera. This means getting hold of the product, staging, lighting and editing the photos. If you decide to go this direction, make sure to read my article on how to improve your product images.

Sometimes the manufacturer will send you a product to photograph. If that happens, they may want the product back after the product photoshoot. Sometimes they also request copies of the photos to use. In this scenario many will share these with their other retailers and the images are no better than a generic manufacturer photo.

Other times, if you drop ship products, you may need to go shopping and find the product to photograph. While this costs you money, high quality original images should help you increase sales and profits will cover these expenses.

Render Product Imaging:

There are companies that specialize in creating renders by manipulating other images to design a mock-up of products. Some of these involve real products, others involve creating 3-D renderings that look real.

The problem with render images is that they aren’t real. Since they don’t show the actual product, you can expect a number of returns and unhappy clients.

Schematic Images:

While a schematic image may be fine as part on a series of images for a product, they aren’t a solid product image. Many on-line retailers, Amazon, Wal-Mart and others, will not let you use a schematic in place of an actual product photo.

Product Photographers:

New e-commerce retailers often find it difficult to justify hiring a product photographer. After all, a smart phone can take a picture.

Product photography is more than taking a picture though. You need to present the image in the best manner possible, stage and display it, light it properly, take photos, relight, take more photos and finally edit to create a pristine image.

Product photographers understand the e-commerce world. They can help guide you through the images you will need to make sales. Understanding how the eye looks at a photo allows them to create eye-catching visuals that will stand out and encourage sales.

Plus they have all the camera, lighting and editing equipment – plus they know how to use it! Hiring a professional product photographer not only saves you time, but provides you with images better than you could take yourself.

And consumers will see you’ve invested in your business, your products and your brand, which makes your company more trustworthy.

Original product photos are an investment in your business. You’ll increase sales, you’ll have licensed images that you don’t have to worry about using. They will represent you and your brand. And you can use them on your website, major e-commerce sites, in blog posts, emails, ads, marketing and social media to stand apart form the competition.


Where NOT to get product images for e-commerce websites:

Coffee Product Photography
Stock photography companies! Free images, or purchased, licensed images from online stock photography companies are never a good idea for e-commerce retailers.

Sure, they are cheap, but as generic images, they usually don’t represent your actual product. I highly recommend you stay away from using stock images for e-commerce.

So those are ways to get free product images for your e-commerce website – and quality product images to help increase sales for your business.

If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about my services as a product photographer, let’s connect! Just fill out the form or use the contact information below to start the conversation.

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