When it comes to merchandising content, there’s an inherent struggle of competing priorities. E-commerce teams want to make the sale, while marketing wants to reinforce the brand. These two objectives can live in harmony, but the best practices for using photography and video panel at today’s Merch ’12 workshop stressed that retailers need to understand and respect the differences.
Throughout the session, panelists Jo Amie, Global Operations Manager, Nike; Jared Blank, VP, E-commerce, Tommy Hilfiger; and moderator Joe Barrett, Chief Executive Officer, Sandbox Studio got a little passionate about the nuances of merchandising content, from pet peeves of product photography to the organizational challenges many e-commerce teams face.
Barrett described marketing as responsible for offense, or getting the customers on the hook, and e-commerce teams as defense, keeping them from abandoning their purchase. And while inciting desire (looking at you, marketing) can be expensive and subjective, providing information (the e-commerce team’s job) is a little more straightforward. If it bugs you, it bugs your customers. If you can’t see what it is, neither can they.
Above all, Barrett says, product photography and video should be readable, accurate and consistent. Think about it this way, do items made with the same material look the same side-by-side in search results? Does the same model’s skin tone vary with the lighting? These inconsistencies are a distraction, but one that’s easily fixable. (For a product-focused, super-consistent site photography example, check out Helmut Lang.)
At Nike, the magic word is authenticity. The brand has made a decision to not use real models, but rather show products worn by invisible mannequins, viewable from various different angles. Exactly how many angles are displayed is not a random decision. For every product category, Amie measures clicks, conversion and bounce metrics against number of product views to find the sweet spot where additional views don’t pay off.
And about the cost. Quality costs more, but it’s an investment worth making. When done properly, you can provide both inspiration and information. When making the case for a larger photography budget, consider not just the conversion stats, but ROPO, SEO, brand integrity and opportunity cost.
Closing the presentation, Blank recognized that in many organizations, implementing changes can be easier said than done. Getting buy-in can be difficult when responsibilities are shared by several teams. His advice: Pick three easy wins and go for them. While your e-commerce team may not be able to go as far and as fast as they’d like, success is found in lots of little leaps, not one large one. Celebrate your success with your team, and keep working to improve the site.