“Can I have a photo?”
If you work at a nursery or garden center, you know that question all too well. Some of you may love the opportunity to share your beautiful plant material, while others may avoid the process like the plague.
Whatever your feelings may be, the advent of email and online shopping has created a shift in how we do business. As more and more grower-retailers rely on email and internet search engines (Google, Bing, etc.), we are left with only one way to sell effectively. You guessed it, photos.
According to the Internet Retail Conference Exhibition, 75% of consumers listed the quality of product images as the most important feature when shopping online. Let’s take a look at why that might be the case, and how you can effectively use photography to your advantage.
If your customer isn’t convinced of the quality of your product at a glance, you are setting yourself up for failure. Bad photos will, at worst, lose you a sale, and at best, heighten your customers’ concerns about the integrity of not just the product in question, but all of your products.
Above all, the absolute worst thing you can do is to not offer photos to your customers at all. Ask yourself, when was the last time you bought anything without seeing it?
So, how can you provide great photos every single time and simplify your life?
• Resolution — A camera with a minimum of 8 megapixels is a good start. If you have a newer smartphone (iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S5 or newer), you’re in a good place.
• Tripod — While not a necessity, a tripod will substantially increase the clarity and sharpness of your photos.
• Variety — More is better! Make sure you get shots at multiple angles. Photograph the whole block or a selection of specimens to display the consistency of your entire stock. Don’t forget about close-up shots if you want to really emphasize quality.
• Scale — Use a yardstick or a larger measuring rod if you want the size of your plant material to be crystal clear. This is especially helpful with tall trees and shrubs. Avoid using human subjects, as it detracts from your products.
• Lighting — Take your photos at the magic hour, one hour after sunrise or one hour before sunset. If you have to take photos midday, try and avoid direct sunlight.
• Photo management — If you want to make your job easier, this is the most critical tip you can follow. If you’re a smartphone user, you may already be familiar with Apple Photos or Google Photos, both of which are excellent. Here’s how you can get going with Google Photos:
1. Create a Google account.
2. Upload some photos. Simply click “Upload” at the top of your screen, and a file browser window will open up. Select your photos and click “Open” to upload them.
3. Create albums. You can organize however you like, just make sure that it will be easy for you and your sales team to navigate. You can always add more later if you forget some.
4. Organize and tag. This is the most important step. To move your photos to the correct albums, click a photo and then click “more options” in the upper right hand corner. Select “Add to Album” and then select the album you want your photo to be placed in. Now click the “Info” button, and enter the plant name in the “Add a description” area.
You now have a functioning, searchable photo database that contains some beautiful photos. Whenever your customers ask for photos, they’re ready to go. Just use the search bar, type the plant name in, and you’ll be presented with all of the matching photos in your database. Click the photo you want, and click “Share.”
Need to download your photo? Simply click the photo, click More Options, and click download.
Want to share albums with your employees? Click “Albums,” click an album, and click “Share,” choose the contact you want to share it with, and now that album is permanently available to that team member, so they can share photos with customers, as well.
You may not have a vast photo record overnight, but set aside some time on a weekly basis, have fun with the process, and you’ll soon discover how much easier life is with a great photo catalog.
Every customer request becomes a chore when you have to travel out to the yard every time. Don’t be that person. By investing a little time and money into providing quality photos and organizing them, you’ll improve your sales, your customers’ experience, and help you stand out from your competitors.