As B2B buyers take on the habits of B2C shoppers, having high-quality product content is essential for future business success across all channels. This product content includes the images, data, descriptions and rich content that are required to give your customers, and in turn, their buyers the information they need to make a purchase choice.
Your product categories will determine which of these product content elements require the most emphasis. In B2B channels, the importance of high-quality images is often overlooked.
Yet having those images often means the difference between securing the sale or having buyers abandon their research to look elsewhere for information.
Simply put, pictures speak a thousand words, and products with images get more clicks. This is as true for B2B as it is for B2C products. B2B products are often complex or have very specific specifications that a buyer needs to understand; this could include the location of a part on machinery, getting a sense of scale or needing to read the detail of the packaging. What is certain, is that as commerce moves online, everything needs strong imagery.
Many businesses attempt to create imagery and product content themselves, whereas others turn to agencies to help them deal with this challenge. B2B product content specialists SKUvantage work with businesses to create high-quality custom product images across all categories. The SKUvantage solution suite is aimed at driving higher sales conversion and reducing cost to serve their clients. SKUvantage have worked across a huge range of categories and clients from train components for Sydney Trains, to steel parts for Bluescope, and from medical devices to commercial kitchen equipment. Beyond imagery, SKUvantage provides a range of other product content creation services including writing engaging product descriptions, 360 spins, video.
Daniel Roberts, Founder & CEO at SKUvantage suggests that the reason the quality of product content is often worse in B2B than that in B2C is because B2B businesses don’t have the time or people to manage this requirement. This is compounded by an often huge catalogue of products, and non-fit-for-purpose systems to manage the diversity of images, data and content. This leads to substandard, unengaging content that negatively affects sales, credibility and customer experience.
“The people who buy in B2B channels at work, buy on B2C sites when at home, so they expect a similarly informative experience”
“And as with all purchase missions, the way you describe and present your product is essential to the success of the sales process. High-quality images of whatever it is you sell is an essential component of doing business. The investment in strong imagery often pays for itself with just one extra sale”
So what makes a great product image?
- Consistent, clean background with consistency in the way the images are taken
- High enough resolution to support zooming in is essential.
- Shooting your product from different angles
- Close ups of key features or critical specification attributes
- Consider the benefits of using 360 spins, which enable buyers to rotate products on the screen
- Explainer videos drive huge uplifts in conversion. But if you can’t afford this, a video which pans across imagery, and presents images in a particular order is also helpful in driving engagement
- Consider how imagery might be used to make key points about your products. For example, if your product has a small size as a benefit, show it next to something for scale.
- If appropriate for your product, perhaps consider showing it in use in a lifestyle scenario, showing a person using or wearing the item.
- Consistency of presentation within a category helps the buyer evaluate across the range. Use the same number of images for each type of product, ensuring the same presentation in terms of lighting, angles and background.
- Having a well defined style guide will help ensure consistency across shoots.
The cheapest source of imagery is getting them from your suppliers. The SKUcapture service from SKUvantage helps businesses of all types manage the process of sourcing this image, data and descriptive content. This is used by a diversity of B2B and B2C businesses across all categories to source content from thousands of suppliers, giving their teams enormous leverage.
However your suppliers generally have the same issues in creating content and may not have the necessary imagery to the standards your business requires. This may leave you needing to create imagery yourselves. Whilst everyone can now be a photographer, it still requires skills to create a good image, particularly for challenging product.
“The only way to ensure you get the very best images that are original, high quality and proprietary to your business is going with a professional photographer,” adds Daniel. “For example, SKUvantage works with clients to establish style guides specific to their category and requirements. This ensures consistency across the range. And a well-equipped product photography studio is required to create the necessary lighting and avoid lifeless imagery.”
“Doing product photography on the cheap is often a false economy, often requiring rework, or just resulting in lower ecommerce performance. Yet it costs the same to shoot a product whether you are a $1m or $100m business, so larger businesses get a higher return in an investment in product content. So if budget is a concern, start with your most popular products and work from there. Check your analytics and see which products or categories are getting clicks but lower conversion and evaluate if having better images and product content would correct this.”
Managing assets, workflow & distribution
Creating, managing and distributing product content assets across a wide range of products can be a huge technical and operational challenge.
Many businesses rely on ERP systems, or spreadsheets and shared drives to manage product content. At best, this generally leads to difficulty in keeping content up to date and managing attributes efficiently. At worst it leads to confusion and poor or wrong product content. And when investing in getting the right content, it’s important to maximise the re-use of all these assets across your customer base, who may need your content to sell to their customers.
“Relying on legacy systems and processes to create and manage this critical resource is not appropriate for long term success. A fit for purpose PIM (product information management) platform helps to more efficiently develop and maintain a B2B eCommerce strategy.”, commented Daniel.
SKUvantage solves this challenge using its easy to use and cost-effective SKUlibrary PIM. This is used by hundreds of organisations to either create, manage or distribute product content. Uniquely, it is also used by SKUvantage to manage the workflow of product content creation for their own studio clients. Using their own technology in the same way as their customers means SKUvantage is highly incentivised to continuously improve and develop the platform, to make it as efficient as possible for the diverse teams involved in product content creation and management.
Having a platform that is readily accessible by internal teams and systems avoids rekeying, and ensures immediate availability of product content. Providing access to teams external to your business also avoids constant requests for product content from customers and agencies. “Our proprietary platform SKUlibrary is uniquely designed from years of real world experience. It helps our clients create and manage product content, publish to our client’s systems and also distribute content to their B2B customers, with ease and less stress. It gives a single source of truth, that is challenging to achieve with spreadsheets and shared drives”, says Daniel.