18

Aug 2021

When and why outsourcing product photography is the best solution for your e-commerce fashion business?

No matter if your e-commerce is developing, or you already have a running e-shop. Sooner or later, you will come to a point when you have to decide whether you want to create a photo studio in-house or find a reliable partner to outsource the product photography. The decision process is usually not easy, and there is a bumpy road ahead of you. With a bit of help from our side, we will show you how outsourcing product photography can boost your sales and be the best solution for your business as a fashion retailer.
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Before you begin to search for a reliable partner, you need to consider and respond yourself to a couple of fundamental questions. They will help you to establish your expectations, estimate goals and business objectives for your company. Let’s get started!

What is the estimated cost of product photography ?

Define your needs by estimating how many products you will implement per year. Only by knowing the actual cost of production, you can decide whether it is more cost-effective to build the in-house studio or outsource it. Then, of course, there are more aspects to consider, but we will get there later.

To estimate the cost of e-commerce photo production, you need to know how many articles you make per year. Only large businesses can afford to have an in-house studio. Basing on our experience, if your production is less than about 5000 pieces per year, probably building your studio will not be an investment that will pay off.

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Below you can find some examples of costs that you need to take into consideration.

The costs of outsourcing fashion product photography:

– cost of photo-production: (number of pieces to be photographed per year divided by the price of a complete set of photos),

– cost of shipping goods to and from the studio,

– cost of goods that after the photo shooting will not be available for sale (due to, for example, hygienic reasons, etc.),

– eventually: cost of an additional employee responsible for managing the process.

The cost of creating a photo studio in-house:

– cost of space rental & maintenance, 

– studio equipment: photo-cameras, lighting, softboxes, backgrounds, scenography if needed, ect.

– cost of maintenance of equipment and scenography (in case sth. is old, broken, or needs replacement),

– cost of post-production: retouching team, graphic designers,

– the photo-shooting team’s labor cost (the retouching team, project owners, graphic designers, and more)

How much control do you need to have over the process of product photography?

It may seem that product photography is nothing but a repetitive, not very creative process. But honestly, it’s not! There are so many aspects that need to be correctly assigned, so many people involved, and it will take a couple of months to set the production process in place. 

The good news is that once the most critical aspects are set, the cooperation should run smoothly, and not a lot of attention is needed from the partner’s side. In GoPackshot, it is possible mainly due to the fully engaged, dedicated customer success manager. 

They ensure a seamless flow of information and take care that all clients’ requests are implemented daily. In addition, they are also responsible for cooperation between the studio and the client.

So if you are ok with trusting an outside company regarding the quality of your fashion packshots and details pictures, then there’s no need to “reinvent the wheel.” You will have to take some time to explain your needs and requirements, and the technical part will be done on the studio’s side.

What is also important, an experienced studio can offer you also the adjustments (background color, size, and even naming of the photos) needed to fit different platforms like, for example, Amazon, eBay, or Instagram. 

Things get complicated when you think of outsourcing the entire process of product photography, meaning packshots and model pictures. As there are many more aspects to consider, this decision has to be taken with more consideration.

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How much time and how many resources it takes to set up professional product photography for the fashion business?

The simple truth is that if you are a fashion retailer, and you have a product ready to be sold in your warehouse, you want to sell it right away. Not waiting for some complicated processes to be ongoing and problems resolved. If you decide to cooperate with a professional studio, the timing needed for setting up the photography production will take only a couple of weeks. Of course, it won’t be perfect in the initial phase, but the quality will be good enough to have the product online, visible to all potential buyers. 

When it comes to creating an in-house studio, it will take at least 5-6 months to set the process ongoing. And even if you are a big retail brand (over 5000 pieces per year), such a project is much more complicated than outsourcing.

You need to consider the very high initial cost & effort required to build up a studio from scratch. 

Just to mention some of these aspects to build up a studio, you will need:

– proper space for the model-shooting (fully equipped studio with dressing room and hair & makeup corner)

–  separate room for packshots & detail photography setup

– equipment (cameras, lighting, softboxes, backgrounds, etc.)

– well-qualified people (a producer, plan manager, photographer, plan assistant, stylist, makeup artist, hairdresser, retouching team, etc.)

Feels like a massive project? Believe me, it is. And such big projects require months of planning, a big budget, and lots of luck finding the right people.

An experienced studio specializing in e-commerce product photography will deliver all that has been already mentioned in one fully manageable “package.”

Ok, after you have already replied to the question above, you should now be able to decide whether outsourcing product photography can be an excellent solution to your business. Below you will also find summarized pros and cons of outsourcing product photography

Advantages of outsourcing product photography:

–          No entry-cost

You pay for what you get: no matter if you decide to order only the packshot or both packshot and the models shots, you pay the flat fee for the complete package of photos, ready to use in your e-shop.

–          Relatively fast setup of photography production

The initial phase lasts about 1-3 months (vs. 0,5-1 year for an in-house studio)

–          no entry barriers like know-how, experienced team, etc. 

All people needed are already hired by the studio: photographers, retouchers, stylists, etc. They will help you choose the best lighting setup, scenography, and even the mannequin’s shape for ghost photography.

–          No rental or equipment maintenance cost 

You don’t need to care about anything. You will not be afraid of production downtime due to some equipment crash. 

–          Relatively careless process management

the best studios will delegate a customer-care manager to have a contact person, who will take care of the seamless communication with the customer

–          The high and constant quality of photography

After the initial phase of fashion photo production, the quality and process established with the studio should be stable and remaining on the same high level. Yes, it will take some time to get there, and the process might not be as smooth as you have been thinking, but it will pay off in the end. 

–          Regular, fast, and on-time delivery of photos

The timing of delivery and amount of photos provided will be tailored and contracted individually. With a larger photography team, you will never get bogged down in projects, as they can focus on your product until it is completed within stated time-frames. Still, you can be sure that your product will go live without any time-lags, which can cost you money in most cases. 

–          Possibility to track the work results in real-time

It’s essential to keep track of the ongoing process. Therefore, studios like ours will make it easy for you by delivering the real-time preview for an example of the model photo shooting, where you can give your comments and remarks. You can check how the process looks like here: 

–          Quick delivery of (even same day)

In the form of a written contract, it will be stated within what time frames the studio has to make all retouching corrections. Depending on your needs, it could be done even within a couple of hours. The same-day delivery is slowly becoming a standard that GoPackshot is also prepared.

What are the disadvantages of outsourcing product photography?

–          Complicated and time-consuming process before starting point

We have already covered this point above.

–          Lower control over the process than with in-house studio

The control over the process is usually the most important for the high-fashion industry and fashion designers, who have their vision of how the final look and feel of the photos should be. For them, the small details count, and having their trusted stylists and set manager is essential. Because of it, outsourcing photography with models would be problematic. 

Even if the studio offers a good standard of trained stylists, they will probably never fit in the individual requirements of the designers. In this situation, it is advisable to outsource only the part of production that is slightly less creative as packshots or flat shots and details pictures. 

Possible difficulties during the initial phase with setting up requirements for studio

If you think that choosing the right partner for outsourcing product photography is the most critical step, you are right. But this is only the beginning of the road, not the end. Before the cooperation goes smooth, several things can go wrong, and knowing them, you will be calmer, so your expectations can be realistic.

–          Communication problems over the time of cooperation

–          Possible difficulties with the management of the delivery of goods to and from the studio 

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After reading this article, we hope you will be able to make the right decision whether to build a studio from scratch or outsource product photography to a professional service provider. But if you need more information or are looking for a reliable partner for your e-shop, please use the formula to contact us directly.

All photos of products visible in the article were photographed in our studio in Wrocław, Poland. If you want to see more of our productions, please check the portfolio.

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