Ecommerce photography, e-commerce photography, e commerce photography…. it is so new I’m not sure which would be the right way to say it, I see all three, often. When the buyer used to go to the store, pick up the bag, feel it, handle it, look at it on her/himself (equal oportunity shopper), they would know they loved it and make the purchase. E-commerce has changed all that. Having just gone through the holidays I can say first hand that I shop online. Why would anyone ever want to go to the mall or shops on a weekend in December and buy gifts when they can sit at the computer the instant the idea for the gift hits them and buy it right away? Or better yet, when you can go to Pinterest and see thousands and thousands of beautiful products/gift ideas and then buy them instantly? Like many who have found Pinterest I have become a devoted “pinner”. As a woman who likes beautiful things (follow my pins if you like, but I warn you, I am a bigger nerd than you imaged, by far…. and I use my married name, Kate Trotter) I am obsessed with Pinterest.
I hear you, you want me to get to the point. What do e-commerce and Pinterest have to do with each other? First an explaination in my own words of what Pinterest is, skip this part if you already know.
Pinterest works like this: you install a button on your browser which says “pin it” and anytime you stumble across any website with anything you want to remember you click that button. The button prompts you to choose a picture from the website to remember the site by, choose a “board” (a category you’ve created, ie. food, clothes, home, etc) and write a few words about it. Then instead of going through your bookmarks to try and find this cool thing you want to remember again, you go to your Pinterest page and see the picture with text and instantly know it is where you want to be. You can also “Follow” other people and when you sign into Pinterest it will show you what cool things the people you like are pinning, you can repin those links directly from there as well. Helping you find cool things in way less time. Here is a screen shot of what it looks like (it’s not all weddings, I promise, that is just what my friends are thinking about today):
Okay, so here is the connection. A while back I read an article in Fast Company magazine, one quote in particular stuck with me, “Across the web, the average sale resulting from a Pinterest user following an image back to its source and then buying the item is $180, according to research from e-commerce firm RichRelevance, compared with $80 for Facebook users and $70 for Twitter users.” This doesn’t surprise me since I have Adblock installed on my browser and don’t see Facebook ads. Considering how much shopping I have done on Pinterest and how I have never clicked on a Facebook ad it makes sense.
But why we pin what we pin is almost 100% based on the picture. That image has to be perfect. We don’t fall in love with the product, we can’t see the product, we fall in love with the picture of the product and then we want that to represent our experiences with the product when we buy it. Being a small business owner it took me a long time to learn this lesson, I learned it through my website actually in the end, brace yourselves, the lesson is, YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL YOURSELF, YOU CAN TRY, BUT IT WON’T BE WORTH IT! To save money, we who are building our businesses want to do everything. But it ends up costing us more than we think. For the first few years of my business I had a custom website that either I built or my friends built for me. Updating it was a huge pain because I didn’t want to bother my friends and if I did it I screwed things up and spent forever fixing them. Finally one year I said enough. I found a template I loved, with an easy to use back-end for uploading images and text and forked over what seemed like crazy money at the time. Within the first month of the website up I sold a print (if you’ve been to my main site Kate Benson Photography, you’ll see it isn’t exactly fine art focused) that paid for the start up fees and first year of service. In my mind when I justified the purchase I thought, “Kate, if you book one extra job this year you’ll pay for it”. I had no idea it would be so quick to work. E-commerce photography is notorious for being done by owners of their small businesses, not professionals. With earning potential like you get on Pinterest, it is more important now than ever to do those photographs justice. You could have the most beautiful product in the world but if you don’t take the right picture you won’t sell it online. I sometimes get a little preachy to new business clients or potential clients about this, when the profit of the product is less than the cost of the photos it should be an easy decision to take great shots of it. Because if that photo helps you sell 10x the product you would sell if you did your own photo then you’ve made a good call.
But it is equally important to make sure that your website can be “pinned”. Speaking from experience on this one, mine cannot and it drives me crazy. If my website company wasn’t so awesome I think I would have switched a long time ago because of this. But they really have the best customer service I’ve ever experienced, (so no worries guys, I’m sticking around till you get rid of me) and I can be pinned from my blog so I’m complacent for now. But just like Facebook when it went publicly traded, Pinterest too could easily loose its luster. But not yet.
A couple other pieces of food for thought, Pinterest is the 3rd largest social networking site (behind Facebook and Twitter), is 90% female users, and commands (as we pointed out before) over double the average sale of any other site like it. Let me know if you need an invite to join as I’m always happy to send some out, but I warn you, it is addicting.