How to Select Your Best Product Photos

Ron Dodby Ron Dod

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As an eCommerce seller, you’re aware that how you present your product visually is crucial to its sales. High-quality images contribute to a shopper’s perceived value of the product, providing a crucial nudge towards desire and action. 

Your image library should include a broad array of primary product images, infographics to present key features, lifestyle images showing the product in use and instructional images to demonstrate the product’s ease of use. Phew! That’s a lot. 

So, with a huge contact sheet of photo options, how should you choose which images work best for your eCommerce channels?

Selecting Photos for eCommerce Platforms

The main image on an eCommerce platform like Amazon, Etsy or eBay will likely be the most straightforward of all the photos you feature. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put care and attention into your product image because this featured photo can greatly impact your click-through rates.

  • First, understand the requirements and best practices for each marketplace, including minimum image dimensions, rules about backgrounds and any limitations on text.
  • Next, examine what your competitors are doing. You don’t want to be the ugly duckling in the bunch. Study what’s there to choose an image that looks like it belongs in the set, but that offers enough “pop” to stand out
  • Finally, test your hunches. Put your new photo up against your old one (or a competitor’s) and see what resonates best. We’ll talk about how to do that below.

poll results product photos

Selecting Photos for Your Own Website

You have infinitely more freedom on your own eCommerce site than on the marketplaces. Your product images here can be looser, more colorful and exhibit more playfulness and brand character. Focus on lifestyle imagery that features people interacting with the product.

  • One way to choose product photography for your store is to associate values or attitudes you are trying to convey with your images. These values might be, for example, freedom, happiness or contentment. 
  • Then, create mood boards with the photo choices that you think best exemplify each value.
  • Alternatively, take your homepage layout and swap out various photo options, keeping the other elements of the page (headline, navigation, etc) identical. Ask yourself: What fits your brand voice best?
  • Get feedback on your mood boards or homepage options. We’ll talk about two ways to do that next.

poll results home page preference

Testing Your Product Photos

At this point, you’ve probably got a gut feeling about the images you think work best. But you may not be the product’s target customer. And you’re almost certainly too familiar with it to put yourself in the mind of someone browsing online. So, here’s where it’s necessary to validate whether your guesses are right.

There are two different ways to split test a product photo.

Method #1: A/B Tests on Live Listings

The first method is to rotate the photo on your live product listing and see what effect (if any) the photo has on conversion metrics. But doing a test this way takes several days and often ends with inconclusive results. Besides being a pain (you have to sit at your computer at 11:59 p.m. to make sure your new photo goes up at midnight), you have to take into account that customers may behave differently on different days of the week. There are software solutions that can help you automate the rotation, but there’s also a risk involved: If your new photo performs worse than the one you’ve got up, your sales and search engine ranking may dip.

Method #2: Polling

The second method to test product photos is a polling service called PickFu. On PickFu, your photo tests occur entirely outside of the marketplaces or your eCommerce site, so your online performance will not be jeopardized. What’s more, PickFu helps you gather feedback from people within your target market, such as Amazon Prime members, pet owners or homeowners. Results come back in as little as 15 minutes. 

Once you’ve determined a winner, you can update your listing with confidence that its performance will improve. For a real-world example of how a product photo can have an impact, check out how one e-seller more than doubled his sales

split test product photos graphic

Comparing the Photo Testing Methods

One limitation of a live A/B test (Method #1) is that numbers are all you get. You don’t receive any insight into why one photo outperformed another. On the other hand, PickFu respondents not only vote on which image they prefer, but they also write a comment telling you why they made their choice. This written feedback helps you understand what makes your photos appealing and will guide your photo choices in the future. 

In addition, polling enables you to test your photo against a competitor’s photo, which you can’t do with live tests. This kind of competitive analysis will quantify areas of strength and weakness of your product imagery versus the other guy. 

This is not to say that live tests do not have value. They absolutely do. When it comes to keyword testing, pricing strategies and conversion rate optimization, live tests are your best bet. 

But for selecting product photos, live tests cannot compare with the ease, speed and conclusiveness of a PickFu poll. Manny Coats, CEO of Helium 10, said that PickFu “is where I go when I want to quickly split test Amazon product images to actual Amazon Prime customers, and know which images customers prefer before I make my product listing live. I get results within 1 hour with detailed ‘reasons why’ they voted a certain way. This has the potential to save thousands of dollars in lost sales from choosing the wrong image.” 

ab test on mobile device

Kim Kohatsu is the Director of Marketing at PickFu, an instant polling service that Amazon sellers use to optimize product listings. With PickFu, e-sellers can quickly test product photos, description copy and UI layouts with shoppers who reflect their target demographic, including Amazon Prime members, those within a certain income bracket or people based on traits such as homeownership, marital status or exercise habits.

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