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    February 24, 2016
    6 minute read

    Preserving Image Quality For Richer Product Images

    by: Ethan Walfish

    The Takeaway: A majority of consumers believe that high quality imagery is the most important factor when purchasing online goods. Follow these best practice recommendations for your product images to drive sales and increase online conversions.

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    Quality imagery makes your products shine on the digital shelf. 59% of consumers say the presence of multiple images or the ability to zoom in (aka high quality images) is the most important factor in making a purchase (Comscore & UPS Study, June 2015). Most of the customers I speak to have high quality imagery taken but many make unnecessary sacrifices for quality.

    Background

    Before we get too far, it’s important to define a couple terms. When it comes to digital assets (and most digital media) there are two important buckets: lossy and lossless formats.

    Lossless formats (ie. TIFF and EPS), are the archival format. When recording artists are saving masters, they don’t hold onto compressed MP3s from the web. They keep the master tape (or in the digital age lossless digital files). A lossless format will always retain the original quality and can be transformed any number of times while retaining that quality. A lossy format compromises integrity of your files for a smaller filesize.

    Lossy formats are the format of the web (ie. JPG and GIF), they allow us to view pages full of images speedily. But they’re also a double-edged sword. We want our files to load quickly but we also want to preserve quality. The more we compress these files to speed transfer over the web the more quality we’re sacrificing. To make matters worse, if you compress an already compressed image you’re compounding the problem and losing quality even faster!

    The Problem

    Today, suppliers have high quality digital assets taken but they accept these images from their agencies in a lossy format. By the time a retailer publishes your assets online, they may have been compressed multiple consecutive times, losing quality with each pass. This means that consumers are seeing less-than-ideal versions of your product images, which may turn them off enough so they don’t buy your stuff (see example below). Yikes!

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    This set of product images is an example of what not to do when you are trying to sell your product. Image credit: Amazon.

    To help better understand what’s happening, think about the last family portrait you printed. Imagine you wanted to copy this image. Instead of going back to the source you used a photocopier to create a copy. Afterwards, when you need additional copies, you make a copy of the copy. Each time you make a new copy, you’re “adding compression”, therefore losing fine details that result in a low quality image. And who wants a low quality image?!

    Don’t let this happen to your digital assets!

    LQ_Cat_For_Web-1.jpg
    This simulates a lossy image.

    HQ_Cat_For_Web-1.jpgThis simulates a lossless image.

    I find that many of the customers I work with are only working with lossy formats- many of them don’t even obtain the lossless images their agencies are capturing for them. Instead, they work from lower quality JPG files that are already compressed, and then they add more compression, which they ultimately send off to their retailers. Working from lossless formats can prevent unnecessary compression. Beautiful, clear product images ensures your products stand out instantly against competition.

    The Solution

    The best digital asset strategies start with high quality media. Request these uncompressed formats from your agency! If you’re not a Salsify customer, you can look to perform some automation with Photoshop Droplets (a quick Google will show a number of tutorials for this).

    If you’re a Salsify customer, our platform can store lossless formats for you and create transformations on syndication. Our platform allows for resizing, color space conversion, DPI modification, padding, cropping, overlays, and more in bulk actions. Want to know about more capabilities? See our documentation on image transformations here.

    Need help getting started? Reach out to success@salsify.com and one of our Customer Champions will help you revamp your digital asset strategy (it might even be me)!

    If you're interested in understanding how Salsify can help you take your product content to the next level, take a product tour here.

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