Tell your products' story: E-commerce product image best practices

10 min read

We all know that how you present yourself matters. This goes for personal and business cases. In the world of ecommerce in particular, visuals are everything.

They're the front that people see when they first look at something and are a major determinant of how someone will perceive and identify a product. In this regard, it's essential to emphasize product photography in ecommerce in terms of quality, purpose, and intent.

The importance of good visuals for an online store

As the primary way in which the internet is experienced, visuals serve as an essential component of any successful online endeavor. Really, they make up most of how a user experiences something, using the display of their screen to communicate a given message or idea. Great images immediately communicate how the subject feels, what it looks like, and where it came from.

In this way, ecommerce product images provide one of the most efficient ways to convey an idea or sell a product. In terms of selling things online, it's pivotal because they're used as an opportunity to present products and share their nature and quality. Together with product copywriting, great e-commerce images are the most important element on the product pages and can significantly increase sales and conversion rates.

Beyond this, good imagery is vital in communicating your brand's message and tone from an aesthetic perspective and bolstering its overall professional presentation.


Different types of e-commerce product images

Main image

The first thing the consumer sees when scrolling through the digital shelf of an online business is the primary product image. It must be clear and instantly recognizable in order to be effective.

Their main benefit is their ability to draw users in by depicting the product that is both appealing and representative of its nature. These images are among the most important to emphasize, as they will be at the forefront of your user's experience and initial interaction with the product. In this regard, it's essential to use this image as an opportunity to display the product itself in as clear of a manner as possible, ideally employing very little negative space around the object and a simple neutral background.

Furthermore, you'll want to make sure that this image is well optimized in terms of image quality, as a poor image can often convey to consumers that the product itself is subpar.


The purpose of the main image is to draw people's attention and clearly show what the product is about.

Mobile ready hero image (MRHI)

The four primary points of a mobile-ready hero image (MRHI) compress product information and offer four simple facts that are easily readable. According to industry guidelines, they should cover the following questions.

  • What is the brand?

  • What is the product?

  • What variety is it?

  • How much is in the package?

The main purpose of these images is to convey a product's appearance, yet through a slightly more e-commerce-oriented style. The images will usually depict the product in a somewhat modified state, out of an effort to better visualize it in its entirety.

This is mainly done for the benefit of a more effortless consumer experience, in which the picture of the product they are viewing is easy to decipher and understand in terms of things like size and type. In this regard, they are usually designed to be extra legible, with the ability to be clearly rendered within small areas.

Using these images is ideal if your website sells something of many varieties or sizes, as it can be greatly helpful to customers in selecting the right product. In this regard, you should be sure to provide a clear distinction between the different types of product images being presented, ideally emphasizing parts of packaging that detail important specifications.


Mobile-ready hero images deliver essential information about the product via a single image.

Detail shots

Detail shots are extremely important in the world of ecommerce, as they often serve as the main way in which a consumer will learn to understand the quality and features of an item.

Detail shots seek to emphasize the fine features and characteristics of a product that may not have been easy to depict through other types of product images. This is pivotal in ecommerce, as given the digital nature of its structure, it will often be the only way a consumer can contextualize what they're buying. They're ideal for pointing out important details and serve as an excellent opportunity to give viewers a chance to experience the item's character.

A detail shot can zoom in on a portion of the item or show a cross-section of its construction, including shots from the back and sides and zoomed-in photos to provide customers with a better perception of the products being viewed. You'll also want to use high-resolution images in your detail shots, as they'll be identifying the fine characteristics of the item being photographed.


Detail shots showcase specific details and features of the product.


While the main product image is usually employed to represent an item at face value, pack shots serve a similar role in the way that they represent the brand.

The main difference between main images and packshots is that while the main image will symbolize the item more directly, packshots tend to focus more on presentation and conveying the actual nature of the product itself.

Packshots serve an essential purpose in helping shoppers visualize the product at hand. They're particularly useful when the packaging plays a role after purchasing and when seeking to display an item with multiple components or accessories, as they have a great way of illustrating precisely what the product is as a whole.

To effectively represent the product being showcased, packshots should contain shots from multiple angles to give viewers a better idea of its dimensions and overall character. Also, make sure that your photos have adequate lighting and natural hues so that buyers have a more complete understanding of what to expect from your product.


Packshots are a great addition to the product image gallery when the packaging plays a role after the purchase.

What's in the box

A "what's in the box" photo shows everything that comes with a product. These images substitute for the nature of ecommerce, where buyers can't physically pick up and inspect a box.

These photos are pivotal to getting productive sales, as they can play a significant role in how well a consumer understands what they're buying with their purchase. A "what's in the box" photo is beneficial for any product that arrives in many pieces. It's also valid for items that customers anticipate to include accessories. If your listing has a high return rate, consider adding a "what's in the box" photo to your ecommerce product image gallery.

When looking to make the most out of these shots, your images must come with an accurate and effective representation of what products contain. In this way, you'll want to focus on high-quality images that allow users to depict and understand each part of the package and use a background that will enable the items featured to be easily identifiable.


When the product comes in multiple pieces, include a what's in the box photo to help customers understand what they are buying.

Lifestyle photos

Lifestyle pictures present e-commerce items while also reflecting the culture and context. They usually depict the given product in the intended usage environment.

These images work as a great reference for consumers to understand the sizing and real-world appearance and contextualize how it will fit into their day-to-day lives. They're also an excellent tool for actively promoting purchases, as these photos allow individuals to make a connection between what they're looking at and the lifestyle they wish to live. Instead of considering the product at the surface level, lifestyle photos enable customers to consider what will be accomplished with it, increasing their desire to buy.

In terms of what makes a good lifestyle photo, it really comes down to the quality of photography applied. You'll want to make these shots as natural and realistic as possible, ideally in locations that are relevant in relation to the product being featured. It's also best to avoid using filters or editing the images excessively in post-production, as this will hinder the intended authenticity of the picture.



Lifestyle shots present the product in its natural environment and help customers imagine how they can benefit from buying the product.

The scale of item photos

Because regular ecommerce product images will only usually feature the item of reference straightforwardly and directly, the users may sometimes have trouble visualizing the actual size of the product. This is where the scale of item photos can be of value, serving as a method for online retailers to give viewers a real-world representation of the stature of a product.

The scale of item photos is typically taken with a balanced shot of the featured product and other objects to be used as a reference, such as a pencil or a ruler. For bigger products, such as furniture, adding the object's measurements to the image in post-production is also an alternative. This allows viewers to better comprehend sizing by being able to directly measure products against real-life objects with which they are already familiar in terms of size.

These images are perfect when seeking to inform consumers of the size ratios between objects and act as an effective tool for giving people a clear image of how much space their purchase will take up in the environment where they're planning to use the product.

When it comes to taking great scale item photos, it's important to emphasize accurate representation. In this way, you'll want to take as balanced and non-angled of a shot as possible and seek to capture accuracy above all else.


A scale of an item photo illustrates the real-life size of the product by adding a familiar object to the image to which the user can compare the size of the product.

Tips for taking high-quality product images

As the visuals represent your product's identity, you want your product images to be beautiful. While the help of professional tools can be beneficial, they are not mandatory for taking successful product photos for your ecommerce website. Here are summarised tips from our more comprehensive article on how to take better product photos.

Camera quality

When seeking to achieve professional-quality, try to avoid using your cell phone's camera. Smartphones models might have sufficient image quality for web use, but the lower specifications will often result in sub-optimal results. If you must use one, try to download an app or utilize manual settings so that you can elevate the quality of your images.

Use a tripod

We can't highlight the importance of using a tripod in product photography enough. A tripod makes it easier to keep the composition, angle, and distance to the object consistent, which in turn helps keep your images in focus and camera stable.

Double-check the focus

There's little you can do to fix out-of-focus images in post-production. Therefore, make sure the focus is just right when you are shooting so you don't have to regret later.

When you have put effort into building a beautiful online store, blurry images on product pages pop up and lower the overall quality impression.

Composition and positioning

If you're shooting an object with multiple parts, try to take your pictures straight to flat the perspective. This way, it will be easier to edit out unwanted items or rearrange objects later.

When taking photos, be sure that they are roughly the same distance away from the item. This will help produce clean shots with minimal visual noise or clutter.


In order to avoid shadowy images, shoot your product shots during the daytime under natural light. However, if you're shooting outdoors, direct sunlight is not the photographer's best friend, as too much direct light leads to losing details.

It can help to utilize a lightbox, other artificial lighting apparatus, or reflectors to achieve the best results.


To emphasize the product itself in your product images, preferably choose a monochrome background, such as a white wall or a neutral-colored canvas backdrop.

In lifestyle photos where the environment is different, use a longer lens to add depth and make the object pop from the background.

Editing photos

In order to make your product images really pop, you'll want to edit them attentively. Use editing software such as Photoshop or Lightroom to adjust lighting, color, and other settings.

Final thoughts

As an ecommerce store owner, it's important to keep in mind that your product images are essentially what will differentiate you from the competition. By following this guide and leveraging these best practices, you're sure to create compelling visuals which capture consumer attention and build trust between you and your customers.

While taking quality product images is not the simplest of endeavors, there are some simple steps that you can take to improve the overall impression of your products. Familiarize yourself with all the relevant factors needed to elevate images' visual appeal. Consider what photo options will best suit your case and position you to convey your product's identity accurately.

While it may seem like a lot of work, everyone can take great pictures that attract visitors and encourage them to buy by following the appropriate processes.

Article written by Akseli L.

A marketer who gets excited about all things e-commerce. Outside of office hours, you'll most likely find Akseli from the countryside, hiking and shooting landscapes.

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