Date: November 10, 2023
If you're an e-commerce brand, the number one factor you should be concerned about is your conversion rate. Conversion rate is calculated by taking the number of orders you get divided by the total number of visitors that come to your website.
If you have 15 orders in a month and 1,000 monthly visitors, then your conversion rate is 15 / 1,000 = 1.5%. The higher the conversion rate, the better because it means that your website is delivering more of what your customers want and people find it useful.
Improving your conversion rate comes from a variety of factors:
- the quality of the content you provide
- the price of your product(s) or service(s)
- the design of your website
- how trustworthy you seem to your visitors
The quality of the content you provide is subjective, but typically it stems from your site's design and copywriting on each page as well as product pictures and videos. It is the last part (pictures and videos) that we will focus on in this article.
Traditionally, product pages on e-commerce sites include the use of static photos from a few different angles. However, more sites are starting to roll out 360 degree spin images. In this article, we will talk about improving your conversion rate through the use of 360 degree spin photos.
Table of Contents: Using a Large Photography Turntable to Create 360 Spin Photos
- What is a 360° Spin Photo?
- Amazon is Pushing 360° Spin Images
- E-Commerce as a % of Total Sales
- Amazon 360* View
- About Big Turntables
- Conclusion: Using a Large Photography Turntable to Create 360 Spin Photos
What is a 360 Spin Photo?
First off, let's quickly explain what a 360 spin photo is and how to make one. A 360 spin photo is a photo of an object, product, or person that rotates around in a complete circle.
360 spin photos allow visitors of a web page to drag and rotate the object around so they can see all sides of the object. They can zoom in to look at details of the object online just like they would in person. Here is a 360 spin photo of an object we photographed using our Big Turn photography turntable:
Above is the .gif file of it, but you can see the 360° spin image here. You will notice how interactive 360 spin images can be for the user. The user can see the product from every angle and look closely at special features of the product.
Why Do I Need a 360 Spin Photo?
Quick Tip: 360 Spin Photos Result in Higher Conversion Rates and Lower Return Rates
There have been quite a few studies done on the impact of websites using 360 spin images on their conversion rates and return rates. We also wrote an article about why 360 degree photos help increase sales here.
For example, Home Depot saw a 35-percent reduction in product returns during an A/B test of 360-degree product photos.
According to CXL, an online retailer of items for pregnant women, their website saw a 27% higher conversion rate on products that used 360 spin photos as compared to two-dimensional images (they previously used front and back photos of a model wearing a maternity dress).
If you have products that have unique features - maybe hidden drawers or rotating parts - it is very hard to display the product's full functionality with static photos. 360 spin photos will help your customer see every feature and angle of your products.
The simple answer for why you need 360 spin images is that they tend to result in higher conversion rates and lower return rates.
How Do I Create a 360 Spin Image?
I've owned 3 other e-commerce furniture brands over the past two decades and during this time I have always struggled with doing 360 degree product photoshoots. I've always wanted to display my products from a variety of angles so that the shopping experience for my website visitors matched that of a physical furniture store.
360 Degree Photoshoots the Old Fashioned Way
Photographing furniture has its own unique set of problems. Furniture is often big, bulky, and heavy. Moving sofas, desks, and other large items during a photoshoot requires two (or more) people. When you rotate furniture or other large items, the center points tend to shift slightly as you rotate them, no matter how hard you try to keep the center point the same.
Here's a quick video showing how you would do a 360° photoshoot without any special tools. Note in this video below how the center point of the products moves slightly, which will result in a frustrating back and forth between the photographer and the person tasked with centering the product(s) to make sure the product(s) are centered in each photograph.
If the objects are not perfectly centered, when you go to create a 360 spin photo the products will move up and down and left to right, making the spin photo look really bad.
Before we launched our turntables, when we did our 360 photoshoots we would mark the center point on the ground with tape as a reference guide. We would use this center point as our guide so that as we turned the product that we were photographing we would know where the center of the product should be positioned. Or so we thought.
Every time that we finished our photoshoot and were reviewing the photos we found out that we always moved the center of the products slightly forward or back or side to side from photo to photo. That is, the center point of the product was not the same in each picture.
We would then have to spend hours editing the photos to line up the center point in each photo, but it always ended up being a mess when we tried creating a 360 spin photo from these pictures. The product would look like it moved up and down or side to side.
Amazon is Pushing 360° Spin Images
Think about the experience a customer has when they walk into a physical store. They walk around the store, pick up products, view it from every angle, and then decide quickly if they want to purchase it.
Now contrast this with online shopping. There's a lot of guesswork involved regarding the size of the product, maybe some of the pictures don't show every part of the product so you're left guessing what you will receive when it arrives at your doorstep.
“I find almost everything I want on Amazon. I use photos and videos to make sure I am buying exactly the product I want,” said Amazon shopper Mary Peterson. “However, no matter how great the pictures are, shopping on Amazon is not like having the product in your hands, like in a physical shop.”
E-Commerce as a % of Total Sales
The St. Louis Federal Reserve puts out reports on the percentage of total sales that e-commerce makes up. The growth has been staggering. From just 2% in 2005 to over 15% in 2023. However, this is still a far cry from the 85% share of total sales that physical retail sales have.
Amazon is keenly aware of this and is doing whatever it can to make the shopping experience online as good as it is in the store. A key driver of this is the use of 360° spin images of products. Amazon calls this their "360° View".
Amazon 360° View
Amazon has created a program they call 360° View to roll out 360 degree spin photos on their website. According to Amazon:
"360° View helps bridge the gap between the physical and digital worlds by enabling customers to interact with products in a more direct way. They can spin products around and inspect them from different angles and they will no longer have to wonder there is a button on the back or what the exact shape of the product is. As the feature is available on all devices, customers can rest assured they can check the product regardless of which device they shop from, desktop computer, tablet or mobile phone."
Here are the requirements that Amazon has for its 360° View program:
- A set of 72 images taken from a fixed elevation above the product
- Every image taken at 5° intervals as you spin the product.
- The images can be created using traditional digital photography methods or using photorealistic renderings from 3D models.
- Digital photography images must be retouched to remove background details.
- Individual image files must follow a prescribed naming convention and be organized into a specific folder structure.
- Individual .png files must follow this format: <ASIN>_360_<SEQUENCE-NUM>_web.png where <ASIN> is the Amazon Standard Identification Number for the product and <SEQUENCE-NUM> is the 0-index, zero-padded integer representing the sequence of the image in its rotation. The first file will have 0000 and the last file will have 0071 as the sequence number.
With all of this in mind, I'll fill you in on the background story for Big Turntables.
About Big Turntables
In 2019, I was running an e-commerce office furniture business and as I mentioned before, I struggled to do 360 photography of our products. There were turntables that were smaller that allowed for 360 photos but nothing existed that was large enough to handle heavy, bulky items like furniture.
So along with my partner Jon, we started developing the first iteration of our large product photography turntables to help solve this problem of photographing larger items from a variety of angles quickly and creating 360 spin images out of them.
After several iterations and 3 years of development, we finally launched the Big Turn, our first large product photography turntable. With the Big Turn, you only need to center your object(s) once. At 94" wide and with a 1,100 lb weight capacity, it is large enough and durable enough to fit objects like sofas, refrigerators, and motorcycles on it.
After you center the object, you then rotate it around in a circle, taking photos at any point as it rotates. The Big Turn also has a "flippable" circular center piece that allows you to either take photos at exactly every 5 degree turn (as Amazon requires for its 360° View program) on side 1 or at any degree turn you wish on side 2. Side 2 is also perfect for taking videos of your object(s).
Here is a living room set we photographed using the Big Turn for a customer of ours:
And here is the edited 360 spin photo of the same living room set. In this case, the spin image was created using 72 photos taken at every 5 degree turn with the Big Turn. Below is the .gif image of this shoot:
And finally, here is a link to the interactive 360 spin photo in our Image Gallery - you will notice that you can drag and turn the entire living room set left and right and zoom in and out at any angle to see finer details of the living room set:
We have several photographers and brands that have used our turntables for photoshoots with models. The model simply strikes a pose and holds it while the turntable is manually rotated around in a circle.
Imagine trying to create this without the use of the Big Turn. First, you would have to estimate 5 degree turns as you rotate the objects. Then you would have to try to line up the center point on each turn.
After you finish your photoshoot you would then have to review each image to make sure the turns are the same degrees apart so the spin image isn't choppy. And you would also need to review if the objects were centered on each photo.
If the photos were taken at varying degree turns or the center wasn't aligned on each photo, the result would be a choppy spin image that moves up and down or side to side as it spins around. And if you mess up either of these factors up, then you need to redo your entire photoshoot.
By contract, for this particular photoshoot of the yellow living room set, it took us 2 minutes to set up the Big Turn on the ground (it requires no tools to assemble), about 2 minutes to center the objects and another 2 minutes to take all 72 pictures of this living room set.
All told, it took us about 6 minutes to set up the turntable and finish the photo shoot. And we had no concerns about aligning the photos in the photoshoot because the objects were all on the turntable and centered in the very first photo.
Now if you're an e-commerce seller with 20 SKUs or a manufacturer with 1,000 SKUs, imagine how much time this can save you. From 3 to 4 hours to 6 minutes per SKU. With 1,000 SKUs, this could save you months of shooting time, freeing up more time for you to focus on your marketing and operational efforts.
Conclusion - Using a Large Photography Turntable to Create 360 Spin Photos
As an e-commerce seller, you're always focused on your conversion rate. Conversion rate improves with higher quality content, site design and photography. With large retailers like Amazon rolling out 360° photos, it's just a matter of time before every e-commerce company has 360° photos of their objects.
As a seller of larger objects like furniture, Big Turntables can help you create 360 spin photos of your products quickly and easily. It is our goal to give you back your time wasted on product photography.
You should be able to take 360 photoshoots quickly and focus on launching your products successfully. Wasting time piecing together images in an attempt to create 360 spin images will make you feel frustrated and unwilling to grow your business aggressively.
About the Author
Mike Lipka is a co-founder of Big Turntables, manufactures of patented large product photography turntables. Big Turntables are for sale or rent at BigTurntables.com. Additionally, Big Turntables has a 360° photography studio in Boulder, Colorado (USA) that allows you to do 360 photoshoots of any object up to 10 feet wide and 1,200 lbs. You can bring your products to the studio or ship them in. Contact Big Turntables for more information.