Although online shopping was already increasing in the months leading up to COVID-19, the pandemic has significantly changed the way we buy everything from clothing to groceries, likely with long-lasting effects. According to a recent survey of 3,700 customers across nine countries, more than half of respondents now shop online more frequently, with most saying they’d continue shopping online in the future.
Research from Google further confirms that our shopping behaviors have changed dramatically in recent months; earlier this year, they reported that 50% of surveyed shoppers had tried a new shopping service for the first time, while searches for “best grocery delivery” and “fashion online shopping” grew by 700% and 600%, respectively, year over year in May.
The rise of online shopping hasn’t only changed how and where brands and marketers reach customers; it’s also transformed the kinds of visuals they use. Search Getty Images for photos of “shopping,” and you’ll find many of the top images fall into two categories: pictures of people in stores wearing masks, and pictures of people shopping online, from the comfort and safety of their own homes, couches, and kitchen counters.
As brands ramp up their eCommerce offerings and roll out new technology, these are exactly the kinds of images marketers will continue to buy. Read on for a few simple tips for covering the online shopping theme in your lifestyle images, while creating timely, on-demand content for your Licensing portfolio.
Tip #1: Capture the entire process
Shopping online might start with browsing the web, but it doesn’t end there. A shopping-themed photoshoot in 2021 can include everything from surfing the internet for deals while in your PJs to entering your credit card information and placing your order to receiving a contactless delivery and opening your package.
If you run a search on Getty Images for “delivery,” you’ll find an array of different concepts, including bags and boxes left outside the front door for pickup. You’ll even find photos of delivery people snapping photos of the packages as proof of delivery and people opening up their groceries after they arrive. A survey released in November found that 70% of Americans want contactless alternatives to proof-of-delivery signatures, so today’s customers will relate to visuals that highlight these solutions.
Even deliveries that aren’t contactless look different today than they did a year ago, as customers and drivers alike adopt PPE (personal protective equipment) like masks and gloves, as well as contactless payment systems.
When organizing a shoot around the online shopping theme, remember to brainstorm ideas and develop a shot list. Aim for variety, and do some research to find what kinds of photos are selling these days. Once you have your shot list, get all your props organized; you want generic boxes and bags without any logos or branding. Share your ideas with your models so they know what to expect before they arrive on set.
Tip #2: Change your perspective
As research from Twitter revealed earlier this year, 80% of survey respondents said brands should show how they’re supporting their employees during the crisis, and 70% said brands should provide prompt customer service. A survey from Kantar further found that 77% of consumers expect ads to “talk about how the brand is helpful in the new everyday life.”
These days, customers crave transparency from the companies they support, and in turn, they’re looking for images that reflect real life during this time. Online shopping photoshoots can revolve around the buyer—as they browse online shops and research buying options—but they can also capture the perspective of the employee or business owner. “Their side of online shopping is just as commercially relevant as the consumers’,” the 500px Content Team tells us.
“Covering this side of the story could mean shooting someone receiving an order and packing an item, a delivery person receiving a package to deliver, or a person shopping at a grocery store while following the consumer’s list on their smartphone.” Whatever your concept, make sure your photos are accurate and true-to-life; packaging groceries will look different from packaging clothing, so pay attention to those details.
All of these “behind-the-scenes” concepts help illustrate the steps today’s businesses are taking to ensure safety and convenience for their employees and customers, and they can also carry a message of hope; while it’s been a difficult year for businesses small and large, many have been able to pivot online to better serve their customers and stay afloat. Heading into the new year, that’s priceless.
Tip #3: Make it personal
The Creative Insights team at Getty Images recently reported that customers feel three times more likely to be personally addressed and valued by small businesses compared to large retailers. What’s more, 54% of UK consumers believe it’s important to support small and local businesses who are struggling during the pandemic, with Gen Z and Gen Y consumers, in particular, feeling passionate about supporting the local economy.
While generic business stock photography does have its place, buyers are increasingly interested in images that feel relatable and authentic. If you can capture a narrative that feels unique, personal, or local, even better. Start at home, and photograph what online shopping means for you and your family; what does it look like for your kids and parents?
When it’s safe to do so, you can also connect with local businesses and document how they’re handling online orders in real-time. You can give them great photos of their space and employees, and in exchange, maybe they can sign property and model releases allowing you to license the photos for commercial use. Win-win!
Finally, don’t forget to have fun. A survey from Twitter found that, during the pandemic, 70% of respondents said brands should boost positivity and share positive stories. Find moments of joy on set and highlight genuine moments, even if it’s as simple as the expression on someone’s face when they open up a recently-delivered package.
“Now more than ever, people have the time to put into researching the items they buy, comparing different retailers, shipping rates, and even utilizing online forums for deals,” the Content Team at 500px tells us. “This major shift has created a vacuum for fresh commercial content that showcases how online shopping looks—whether for clothing, tech, or groceries.”
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