360 product photo or video in e-commerce. What to choose?

27 April, 2020
360 product photo or video in e-commerce. What to choose?
Many people confuse 3D models with 360o photos. Often even large online stores announce the use of 3D models for several product categories, but in fact they publish 360° product photography. Actually, 3D-models are created in special software and are made from scratch. In some cases, texture photos, such as wood or fabric, are used to convey the material, but most of the 3D models are made by the designer.

On the other hand, the 360° photo is entirely composed of images stitched together. To take pictures of small items, a rotary table is used, where a static camera takes a series of photos. In case of large objects, such as cars, the goods remain in place and the camera moves around it on rails. In this case, 360 degree photography is more realistic than a 3D-model. And creating a high-quality 3D model is ten times more expensive than taking a 360° shot.

Considering complexity and development costs, 3D-models use mainly used for expensive goods for which interactive demonstration is necessary. For example, in a car model, you can show how the steering wheel spins, how the dashboard display moves out, how doors, hood, and boot open.

For goods of average price category, it is better to use 360° photos. Depending on the budget and complexity, one of two shooting options will work.

First option. To create a 360° photo, you need to work around at least one axis, most often horizontal. In this case, the user can rotate the product on the monitor screen, scrolling left and right, but will not be able to see from above and below. For example, this option is suitable for a crib: the view from above is available on a classic picture in the gallery, and customers do not need to see the bottom part. The cost of a 360° photo on a single axis depends on the number of images: the more images there are, the clearer the product is shown and the more expensive the work is. At a very minimum, it is necessary to combine 24 photos, the quality however may not be that good. With 24 photos (which is a minimum acceptable for 360 photography), the quality will not be good, and the video itself will twitch.

For a more convenient viewing, you need to stitch at minimum 36 photos together.

A quality 360° collage, similar to animation, consists of 60-70 photos and will cost about twice as much.

The second option. To allow online store visitors to view the product from more angles, you need to shoot across two axes: vertical and horizontal. As a result, the product will rotate in two dimensions. These 360° photos are suitable, for example, for stores where it is important for customers to look at the details both on the top and at the sides.

The second axis can duplicate the first (vertical) if it is necessary to show the goods in different states. When rotating the dishwasher, it is useful to add the ability to open doors with a mouse click. When rotating the dishwasher, it is helpful to include the opportunity to open the door with a mouse click.

When shooting more than 10 products, creating a 360°  “view video” collage on two axes, of 72 images each, will cost several times more than all previous versions. Taking pictures of dishes and jewelry is more expensive than other products, because plates and rings often glare. In a static shoot it is possible to position the product to avoid the glare, however in a 360 shoot it is not possible. Therefore, an essential part of the preparation for the shoot is working with light.

Shooting process

For the photoshoot, you need to prepare the product itself. Of course, all images are subsequently processed in graphic editors, for example for color correction or background removal. But you cannot rely solely on photo processing.

Comment of a professional Toronto product photography retouch artist and marketer:

"Once we were shooting electric engines. Looking through the finished photos, the customer saw the scratches on the engine and asked to fix them. But when we calculated the cost of corrective work for each photo, it turned out to be cheaper to retake a photo of a similar engine without scratches."

The effect. Household appliances and electronics vendor added a 360° photo to the mobile electronics category. A few months later he estimated the results of publishing photos in comparison with other categories of goods without 360° photo - the growth of conversion was 16%. Meaning he now sells 16% more of product with 360 degree photos.


Obviously, it is easier and cheaper for an online store to host someone else's video (for example, the manufacturer) than to create your own. But the self-produced video is more trusted by the customers and if often of better quality. It is useful for e-commerce companies to create their own videos to draw attention to the store and promote the product on their behalf.

Videos are particularly effective for niche vendors. For example, an online store that focuses on fishing accessories can shoot videos of new products and post them on social mdeia, thus giving full information to its audience.

There are several options for creating clips depending on the type of product and given budget.

Option one. 2-minute video overview with voice. Only hands that unpack and show the product in action are shown in the scene. This option is suitable for the demonstration of mobile electronics, small household appliances, DIY tools, shoes.

Review of an electric drill demonstrates the equipment and several modes of the tool, and voiceover tells about the pros and cons of the product.

Option two. In a 3-5 minute video, you see an actor shot from multiple angles.

This type of video is suitable for demonstrations of laptops, computers, expensive home appliances, and clothing. In this latter case, creating a video will pay off if you shoot a whole " look" (several items of clothing) in one video.

Such content will cost you a few thousand dollars at a conventional studio, when shooting 20-30 looks per day. The previous version is supplemented by a make-up artist, quality background, and a fairly large studio.

Option three. Full-featured video up to 10 minutes, filmed in several locations.

In this video, you can shoot sports equipment, hunting and fishing goods, mobile electronics, office equipment.

An overview of a mountain bike can begin on a hill, where the actor describes the model and its main specifications. In the next scene, he rides a bike, talking about speeds and modes. In another location, the actor stops abruptly, demonstrating the braking system. The last scene is filmed in a workshop where the bike is disassembled into basic components, each of which is described in detail. In general, almost a movie, with the corresponding heavy budget.

Nuances. The cost of video creation can be reduced by involving online store staff. But if in the first case the substitution will go unnoticed, in the latter non-professional actors can ruin the visual impression. Lack of acting skills and the ability to arrange semantic accents will bring more harm than good to the company.

The effect. The EyeVidewDigital study showed that, thanks to the rollers, the conversion of landing pages increases by 80% on average. Various studies show that video advertising has a positive impact on brand sales and brand awareness.

Estimate the cost of creating media content

It should be noted that when choosing between 360° photos and video clips, it should be taken into account that the cost of media content production should pay off by the margin and growth of conversions in sales. For example, in most cases, photo and video shooting is not profitable for inexpensive accessories such as phone covers or headphones, but can be effective for mass products  - clothing, or even furniture. In any case, before investing in the filming of all expensive goods, it is worth testing media content in one or two categories, and assess sales dynamics.

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