If you're just starting an ecommerce site, you’re in for a rude awakening when you go to look for product photography services.
This is due to two major issues:
- Quality product photography is outrageously expensive
- Finding a professional photographer you trust is challenging
My painful introduction to the world of professional product photography
I started my own ecommerce site 7 years ago in the fitness industry. We decided to put our own branded apparel up for sale on the site. I was blown away when we got an $800 bill for shooting 4 pieces from a local photography studio. Honestly, I felt like they were taking advantage of us.
My iPhone camera and Instagram feed had unfortunately debased my understanding of what it actually takes to photograph a product properly and then place it on a perfect white background. As it turns out, it’s not terribly difficult to take the photos, but you do need the right equipment, and that equipment is not cheap.
I looked into other photographers, but they were all just as expensive. Most of them charge by the day with rates ranging from $1,000 to $3,000, making my small jobs of 50-100 photos too expensive. I would need to sell hundreds of pieces of apparel to cover my photography costs alone.
Why a white background?
It looks more professional, however the true problem surfaced when attempting to advertise with Google’s product listing ads, as well as selling our products on Amazon.
Both these services require all products be placed atop a white background. Since Amazon and Google accounted for 80% of our sales, I had no choice but to bite the bullet and pony up for photography costs.
Product photography as a service
After additional research, I found there were a few other options that were slightly cheaper. You ship your products to them, they photograph them, clip them, ship the products back, and then deliver your photos a few weeks later. For example, this service charges $10-18 per photo, and this service costs $30-$40 per photo.
However, when you take into account the need to photograph each product from 5 different angles, as well as the roundtrip shipping fees, your costs add up quickly. Depending on which service you use it typically ranges from $130 to $230 per product.
5 flat photos don’t accurately represent a product
Ultimately, I came to the final conclusion that product photography in its current form does not compare in any way to holding the real thing in your hands. I had to offer free shipping and free returns in order to turn browsers into buyers. Shoppers apparently weren’t confident that what we were selling was something they actually wanted to buy based on the images.
This experience set me on a quest to bridge the gap between online shopping and the in-store experience. 5 years later I founded Hoot, an interactive high-definition 3D product viewing technology.
Below you can see how the hoot experience compares with traditional 2D images:
It is nearly impossible to understand how plush the interior of the helmet actually is through traditional product imaging. The contours and beautiful retro style are basically lost in visual translation, no matter how many photos of this helmet are available online.
Now it is clear to see the lush interior is basically a pillow with a protective shell. Additionally, you can also now see the vented webbing designed to keep the head cool on a summer afternoon ride. The stylish curves and clean vintage lines are completely revealed, leaving nothing to the imagination.
A surprising 180 degree shift in perspective
In an unexpected twist of irony, I now find myself on the other side of the equation asking brands to cover the high costs for the photography that captures these 3DHD product experiences. Granted, we deliver a great deal more than standard product photography at around the same cost, but it’s still seems like a large amount of money to fork over.
This has been our number one hurdle in getting brands to work with us at Hoot. Everyone wants their products to be presented in the best possible light, but until recently only large brands with big marketing budgets could afford this technology.
Over the past year we have seen firsthand the positive impact hoot’s 3DHD product experiences have had on companies’ online sales. In this previous post, we disclosed these astonishing results in which clients experienced a 200-300% increase in conversion rates from hoot! It has also performed exceptionally well for customers that have uploaded 360 product videos to Amazon, which we highlighted in this post.
Here is a screenshot of an actual client’s Google Analytics account during a 30 day period. The blue line represents consumers that viewed products with the 3DHD experiences. The orange line symbolizes those that viewed products via traditional images.
We believe in our 360 product photography technology so much, that we’re giving it to customers for free
In order to speed up our adoption rates, we recently started to take small calculated risks by photographing company's products for free and only collecting money on the back-end based on the additional sales we generated from the increase in conversion.
This leap of faith worked great for our clients since it removed all risk. If Hoot didn’t generate more sales, then they didn’t have to send us a dime. It’s very similar to a cost per acquisition advertising model in that you only pay for results. It also doesn’t require the upfront cash needed in order to pay for product photography.
What’s in it for us?
The first main benefit is that we can be innovative in technology and business. As far as I know, we are currently the only company confident enough in our results to offer something like this.
Since we are an end-to-end solution, we have the unique ability to track and measure the return on investment for the services we provide.
Performance based payment programs
The second major benefit is that we make more money on the backend of the deal. We don’t take money in perpetuity like cost per acquisition advertising models. We only charge up to 25% over our retail rates. Companies only pay us from the pool of additional sales that Hoot generates at the end of every month until the balance is paid in full. Every client thus far has paid off their balance within 60 days.
The risk is actually relatively low for us as well. Especially now that we have put several companies through the program with stunning results.
Eliminating all product photography costs
A 3DHD experience is comprised of computer controlled photos captured taken every 10 degrees. That’s a total of 36 photos that can be used for a website's normal product images as well as for any advertising and print media. This is typically more than enough to adequately represent a product online and in print, but if additional photos are needed we are happy to capture those for clients as well.
Best of all, we are willing to roll the costs right into Hoot’s performance based payment program.
What if you never had to pay for product photography again? Request pricing below to learn more and see if you qualify for this unique solution: