During 2020’s pandemic situation, online shopping became a huge part of society’s everyday life. There’s no doubt the trend will continue in the future and will conquer new sectors of the market. However, online selling creates many different problems and one of them is the growing number of returns. In this article, I’ll show you the origins of most returns and will identify 11 easy steps for overcoming the issue with the aid of product photography.

Why do people return products?

SaleCycle’s research showed that there are many different reasons for returning the product:

One of the main reasons for returning is product information. That means that product texture, features, colour and description – interpretation of the product by online shoppers has vital importance. When the buyer unboxes the product, her imagination confronts reality. The big gap between them, the bigger chance of returning. For making this gap smaller, buyers can use better and more informative visual content such as images, 360 spins or videos with better texture and scale.

Guide to more attractive visual content

What you see is what you get!

The main idea behind these words is to show the audience the most realistic description of the product you’re selling. Show the exact size of the bag, the exact colour of the shoe, the exact texture of the dress material and build the bridge from expectations to reality. Don’t use graphic illustrations and computer renderings. Take a real picture, because that can have a bigger impact than long descriptions.

Steps for successful online shopping

1. Underline most important features of product

The picture must show all the switches and functions of a product. For that, take several shots from different positions for giving shape and size impression. Use close-ups to show details. Highlight product texture by using proper lightning.

2.  Provide images with human models

It’s a proven fact that being human models in a product listing has a positive impact on customer confidence. With a model’s presence, buyers have a better impression on a product size and its shape. It makes it easier for them to imagine the product on themselves and builds buying intention even without reading the specifications.

Human models help you present critical characteristics of the product, such as the draping of the material, the skirt’s length on the knee or if the boot covers the ankle. That specifies the destination group – is its adult version or for children; Worn clothes and accessories shows how the product looks in real life. The colour of lipstick on different skin tones will inform you about how the product will look on yourself.

With all the benefits said, using human models also gives you a chance to link different products with each other and provide the whole look for the buyer’s imagination.

With photos, also consider live model videos. That can bring you to another level. In 10s videos you can show how the product material behaves in everyday situations: if it’s heavy or light; if it moves while breeze and etc.

3. Produce rich content

For diversifying the content and providing detailed information about features, shape and texture, you can use 360 degrees spins of the product or 3D presentations and product videos. Interactive spins make visualization easier for the human brain. It can provide the information, which will be critical in the decision-making process. 

A rich listing is fun to watch. Makes customers stay longer on your web and, most importantly, provides plenty of useful insights about your product.

4.  Crowdsource some photos

For enriching your e-commerce listing you can use crowdsourcing. Ask your customers to post pictures of themselves in your product and publish them in a separate section.

That will make your page closer to real life. You will receive pictures of your product in different situations, different styles and backgrounds, that maybe even you couldn’t imagine before. For the new buyers, seeing, for example, your dress on real people like them, makes that dress already accepted by society. And that has a great effect on their confidence while buying the dress.

Crowdsourcing of photos brings engagement around your brand. use various hashtags, make different campaigns with photo challenges and let your customers show themselves. They will realize that they want your product.

5.  Give size impression

Show your customer the size of your product in real life. Use human models or different stuff to make everyday situations and make buyers realize how the product is seen on them. Use a person’s hand for showing rings or bracelets. Use a Champagne bottle on the table to show furniture. That will change your products whole appearance.

6.  Prepare the session and limit post-production

Before shooting, prepare the product as best as you can. Depending on the product, iron the fabric, clean the surface, remove the dust or stretch it. That will save your money and time in post-processing later.


For jewellery and metal products, use compressed air to blow off the dust and apply a final wipe with a white microfiber/linen cloth.

For glossy surfaces don’t use paper cloth. For eliminating fingerprints, you can use cotton gloves.

If you shoot without models, place ironed cloth on a flat surface.

7.  Show proper colours

During online shopping, people are convinced to buy things that are shown in the picture. That’s why you need to make sure that the product on the photo looks as natural as possible on every screen a potential buyer probably uses. If you boost your product colour in an unnatural way, your product will be ready for returning. And that will be on you.

8.  Highlight the texture of your product

A huge difference between online and real-life shopping is the sensory experience of the product. In everyday life buying involves touch and smell. So, when it comes to online shopping, it’s crucially important not to limit yourself and to provide as good a sensory experience as possible via product photography.


Render the texture and feel of the material in the picture. Expose all the irregularities of the surface and differences in what the product is made of. Use contrasting lights from different angles and manipulate them. Invite some shadows on the photo. Frontal light (90 degrees) will show your product as flat and uniform. But if you use an angle of 45 degrees or less, you will underline all the holes and bulges.

Make customers feel the texture while just looking. That will minimize your product returns.

9.  Avoid extensive post-production

As we already said, one of the main reasons for returning the product is unfaithful presentation. To avoid a series of natural mistakes in post-production, you need to find perfect balance between sales and information purposes of the photo.

Catching the eye of the customer is important, but in the process, you shan’t lose the balance of colours through increasing vibrance and saturation. Just stay at the “just enough lively colours” level, which can be easily found while visual experimentation.

Don’t smooth the surface of the product. It makes customers lose the feeling of texture.

Don’t make too much contrast and don’t sharpen edges. Leave everything real or you’ll kill the buyer’s impression.

10.  Highlight product details

Why limit yourself in one photo, when you can take product pictures from many different angles? Show as many views as you can. Make the customer see the whole picture in little details. Use high resolution for better rendering. Implement new technology such as 360-degree presentations or videos.

Details will show all the functionalities, colour and texture – everything you want to be seen in your product.

11.  Keep your customer up-to-date

Keep the product photos and descriptions up-to-date. As soon as you change your product logo, packaging, colour or any other detail, update your online store accordingly. That simple tip will save you from lots of returns.

We hope our 11 tips help you reduce return rates in your ecommerce business. By showing the real value of your product via pictures, you make your customers feel what they see. And that’s the right way of online shopping.

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