3 Key Factors to Include in Your 360 Product Photography Business Case

If you are serious about adding 360 product photography to your product marketing mix, you will need to sell your boss on the idea. Like any other business initiative, the best way to do this is with a solid business case.

Since the general perspective on 360 product images is they are nice-to-haves and not must-haves (a general misconception in my opinion) you should focus your business case on these 3 key factors:

  1. Return-on-Investment (ROI) – will acquire 360 product images generate a positive return on the investment for your business
  2. Product fit – will your products display well as 360 images in the eyes of your customers
  3. Competitive landscape – are your competitors using 360 product images, and if so how are they using them

1. Return on Investment (ROI)

News flash – your boss will consider the ROI of a 360 product photography project as the most important factor in the final ‘go / no-go’ decision. How much will the proposed initiative cost and how much profit will the business generate? Don’t get me wrong, your boss will consider other factors, but in the final analysis, ROI will be the factor that tips the scales.

How do you accurately calculate the ROI on 360 product photography?

Here is my recommended approach – consider the 6 variables below, come up with estimates, and spreadsheet scenarios to determine the potential ROI.

  1. Total cost of 360 product photography and image acquisition –include all costs – price per 360 images, number of products, set up, project management, and product ordering and delivery (to your studio or a 3rd party vendors)
  2. New sales –estimated number of new units you will sell with the introduction of 360 product images
  3. Gross profit per sale – use your business’ standard gross profit calculation
  4. Average cost per product returned – the total dollar cost of each product returned
  5. Standard product category return rate – the percentage of products returned – be sure to use return rates for products that are in the same or similar product categories as the products you are creating 360 images for
  6. Estimated percentage reduction in product returns – the percentage you feel product returns will decrease by having 360 product images

Let’s look at a simple 12-month ROI calculation:

  • Total products you will create 360 images for – 100
  • Total cost per product for 360 image acquisition – $50
  • New sales generated from products with 360 images – 150 units
  • Gross profit per sale – $40
  • Average cost to process each product return – $50
  • Standard product category return rate – 15%
  • Percentage reduction in product returns with 360 images – 20%

Here is the 360 Product Photography ROI calculation:

  • Total cost of 360 product image acquisition – $5,000
  • Total gross profit from new sales – $6,000
  • Cost saving from reduction in product returns – $225
  • ROI: 24.5%

Action: Estimate the cost per 360 images, new sales these images will generate, gross profit per new sale, cost per return in the product category, average company return rate, and estimated a reduction in product returns. Build a spreadsheet with various scenarios and see what the ROI is. Build this analysis into your business case.

2. Product Fit

Some products are a natural fit for 360 product images while others are not. It is important to consider if your products are a good fit when building your business case for 360 product photography.

Ask yourself these 3 questions when determining product fit:

1. Will 360 product images create a better buying experience for my customer?

When your customers are shopping for your products online, will they have a better buying experience if they are able to rotate your products and zoom into product features? If the answer to this is yes then your products are a good fit for 360 product photography.

To illustrate product fit, let’s look at some examples:

  • Poor fit: products that do not have much detail to them and / or are single dimensional e.g. stationary, books, food products
  • Good fit: multi-dimensional products that have featured on many sides and where close-up views are important to the customer e.g. computer equipment, electronic products, sporting goods

Action: Review all your products and group them into those that are a good fit for 360 product photography and those that are not. Document the total number of products in the ‘Good Fit’ group; this will be an important piece of data when it comes to building the business case.

2. Will 360 product images allow my customer to ensure they are purchasing the right product?

When your customers are shopping for your products online, can they determine that the product they are viewing is the one that meets their need by rotating the product and zooming into the product detail? If the answer to this is yes then your products are a good fit for 360 product photography.

Why is this question so important? If the consumer is able to determine that the product they are viewing is the product they need the odds are that the product will not be returned. The cost to process product returns is significant in many industries and takes a bite out of profits each time. Cost savings from a reduction in product returns flows directly to the business’ bottom line.

Action: Research product return rates in your business. Estimate the percentage reduction in returns that may result from 360 product images. Factor these numbers into your business case.

3. Will 360 product images help my customers connect emotionally with my products?

When your customers are shopping for your products online, will they have an emotional connection with your products by being able to view them from all angles and in detail? Although the answer to this question is subjective, it is relevant when building the business case for 360 product photography. The fact here is 360 product images provide a real sense and feel of the product when compared to still images. This creates an emotional connection to the product.

Let’s look at an example – suppose you are looking for a new high-end notebook, you visit many sites that have multiple still product images and one site that shows the notebook as a full hemispherical 360 (you can fully pan and zoom anywhere on the notebook – top, bottom, sides, front, back, all features and details). Will you have a stronger emotional connection with the still images or the 360 interactive images? My money is on the later.

Action Think about all the products you put in the ‘Good Fit’ group and rate them on a scale of 1 to 10 – 1 being the low emotional connection and 10 being high. To get a sense of how many of your products would connect emotionally as 360 images, total all products that have a rating of 7 or higher.

3. Competitive Landscape

Monitoring how your competition is marketing their products online is an important part of business. As far as 360 product photography is concerned, you should review all your competitor’s sites to see if and how they are marketing with 360 product images.

If they are using 360 product images you can decide to follow suit or if they are not you can view this as a competitive opportunity. It really depends on how you view your competitive landscape.

Action: Review your competitor’s sites and attempt to answer the questions below. This information will help you build your 360 product photography business case.

  • Are your competitors using 360 product images to market their products?
  • If they are using 360 product images, how are they using them e.g. for specific product categories, select products in specific categories, fast moving products, high-priced products?
  • How are the 360 product images presented – are they rotating smoothly (indicating 72 images per rotation or greater), are they basic 360 images rotating on a single axis or do they rotate on multiple axes so the product is visible on the sides and the top and bottom?

Good Luck Creating Your 360 Product Photography Business Case

I hope the above information helps you build a strong business case for 360 product photography. Please comment on this post, we would love to hear about your business case experience.

Image credit – Benda Starr

Patrick Weilmerier
Patrick Weilmeier
Patrick leads Visual SKUs marketing activities and is focused on understanding customer needs, aligning with sales to generate opportunities, expanding markets, and growing revenue.

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