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How Retailers Can Recover Lost Revenue With Automated Product Image Editing

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Brand differentiation remains vital to retaining customers through turbulent times. 

While retailers focus on expanding their product assortment to increase freshness, delays in formatting product images prevents SKUs from being merchandised and customers from discovering their new favorite products. 

Bottlenecked by improper product images, retailers can fail to maintain their brand promise of rapid onboarding and fail to capitalize on evolving consumer trends. Each day a SKU is not merchandised leads to a day’s worth of lost sales. 

Product imagery is a two-dimensional problem: images need to showcase products in a way that speaks with customers, while also fitting the specifications required by the ecommerce platform. 

The magic lies in being able to consistently represent products in a way that aligns to your brand while meeting the technical requirements of your merchandising team. 

Approaches to product imagery

There are three primary paths to explore to bring repeatability to merchandising product images: in-house editing, synthetic imagery, and automated editing. 

In-House Editing

In-house editing is the standard path for companies looking to bring consistency and quality to their product imagery today. Retailers that recognize the importance of product imagery often have partnerships with photography firms or hire entire photography teams internally. 

Images of both first-party and third-party products are taken on-site and edited to the specifications set by the merchandising team. 

Having a team in-house affords the greatest degree of control over the process while incurring the highest degree of cost. 

Cost: $3k - $10k per day of photography 

Synthetic Images

Synthetic images involve creating a 3-dimensional model of the product being sold. This model looks more like an AutoCAD file than an actual photograph. The dimensions and contours of the product are detailed in the model so that it can be superimposed onto any background or display.

Details such as shadows and lightning can then be edited based on the perspective of the photo, adding a layer of authenticity to the photo in a way that was previously impossible.

There are two components to synthetic images: the model and the image variations.

The model is the 3-D rendering of the product. Creating this involves upfront time from a human to accurately codify the product’s dimensions in a way that it can be transposed and edited into its environment.

Image variations involve placing the SKU model into different contexts (backgrounds, lighting, color schemes) to create website-ready images.

Costing can be determined per-SKU or for a monthly fee where a set number of images are provided per month. 

  • Per-SKU: We’ve seen $250 / SKU with $10 per image variation. 
  • Monthly: $100 - $500 for 5 - 20 images per month 
A sample synthetic image produced by our friends at Faux Studios.

Automated Image Editing

Automated image editing becomes possible when a retailer has exact requirements for images powering their product display pages.

Images received from third-party sources can be ingested, transformed, and made available for merchandising without human intervention. Once an image editing pipeline has been created, it can scale as quickly as a retailer can source and onboard new products.

The fastest path to implementation is utilizing a company such as Cloudinary or imgIX to perform transformation workloads such as background editing, cropping and resizing, and re-centering focal points.

Baseline costs for retailers start from $300/month (imgIX’s base plan) and then scale based on the volume of images intended to be edited. Costs are typically at the enterprise level of these tiered plans. 

How a UK-based retailer saved £30,000 in revenue using automated image editing

Forecasting the ROI of an improved product imagery pipeline involves a few key inputs: 

  • Number of products intended to be onboarded per week
  • Revenue per merchandised SKU per week 
  • Average delay in merchandising caused by product image-related delays

For a prominent UK-based retailer, Convictional explored the input variables above (products, revenue, delays) to determine the amount of lost weekly revenue caused by imagery-related delays.

With this customer, details were available at the brand level rather than the SKU level. The model to document the cost of the existing internal process of editing images were as such:

  • additional three weeks added to merchandising
  • an average of generated £350 in weekly GMV per brand, 
  • 30 brands delayed in onboarding due to product image-related delays

The current cost of image delays was then found to be 3 weeks * £350/brand/week * 30 brands = £31,500 in lost revenue per brand or £10,500 per brand per week. 

How Convictional handles product imagery

Convictional provides pathways to validate whether a brand’s product imagery meets your merchandising team’s requirements.

Buyer Product Validation

Product image requirements are often poorly communicated between trading partners. A retailer’s merchandising requirements may only be communicated once in an onboarding document that fails to reach the required team member on the brand’s side. As such, a brand can end up fully onboarding only to realize that their product images are not up to spec.

Through Convictional, retailers can codify their image requirements through Buyer Product Validation rulesets. Requirements such as image quantity and image dimensions can be set once and then applied to all brands that onboard.

Brands are made aware of variants whose images are incomplete so that those variants’ images can be remedied from within the brand’s account.

Cloudinary Integration 

Convictional provides retailers with a clear way to push image requirements to their partners. But what if the brand is unable to add or change product images to wherever they manage their products?

In those scenarios, an alternative approach is needed. A brand needs a way to duplicate and edit their product imagery so that it meets the requirements of their retail partners — without impacting the brand’s source of truth for images.

Convictional enables brands to create duplicate copies of their products to edit to their retailer’s requirements. An integration with Cloudinary enables brands to request specific image editing workflows from the Convictional app. Those product images are edited and stored within a duplicate copy of the original product — called a “Partner Product” within Convictional.

A before and after comparison of a product image processed through Cloudinary.

Faster merchandising = recovered revenue for you

Product imagery is a primary way for a retailer to uphold their brand standards and represent themselves well to their customers. Image editing remains a core workflow for product merchandising — with all retailers facing a decision of evaluating the ROI on moving photography in-house or pursuing an alternative path. 

With tens of thousands of weekly revenue dollars at stake, adding automation to the image pipeline can save considerable missed revenue and enable greater speed in onboarding third-party products. To simplify their image editing pipelines to meet their SKU count goals, retailers can setup buyer product validation and image editing integrations from within Convictional. Contact our sales team to get started today.

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