6 Tips To Improve Your Dealership’s Inventory Photos
As a savvy dealer, you must have observed how rapidly the car-buying behaviour has been changing in the past couple of years and how the internet is playing a major role in influencing consumers’ buying decisions.
In my previous article, I covered the importance of creating efficient banner ads that drive more clicks and visits to your website. However, ads alone won’t boost sales. Once the consumer arrives on your website, they want to see information that is clear, easy to find, and more importantly, images that motivate them to take the next step and visit the dealership.
That’s what I’ll cover in this article. We will go over the six easy steps you can take to improve your inventory photos, making them more enticing, enhancing the look and feel of your website, and leaving your potential customer with an excellent first impression.
1. Use manufacturer photos as a reference
What better place to get references from than the manufacturer’s website and newsroom?
We are not talking about achieving the same level of quality, but rather reproducing their shot angles, which shows all of the major selling points of the vehicle when it comes to exterior/interior design, premium features and key details.
There are some photography rules that every manufacturer follows when photographing their vehicles. Once you get familiar with them, you will start noticing the similarities between photos from different vehicle models and brands.
For example, photos are never taken from eye-level. They are either taken close to the ground or high up, looking down.
They picture the vehicles in five major angles, showing ¼ and ¾ of one or both sides of the vehicle, and the entire front, back and side. Take a look at the examples below.
When it comes to the interior, manufacturers take shots peeking from the front and rear windows, and sitting in the back seat, showing the front panel from side to side.
To highlight special features of the vehicle or to simply add more detail to the shots, close up photos of the rims, front and rear lights, side mirrors, and interior side of the doors are taken.
2. Take photos with proper lighting
When a vehicle enters inventory, the first thing that some dealers may do is take photos in order to quickly upload them to their website and social media. However, waiting for a couple of hours to do so or leaving it to the next morning can really impact the quality of your photos.
Unless you have an indoor space where the vehicle photos are taken, there are appropriate times to capture the best possible shots. The hour after sunrise and before sunset have just the right amount of light to give warmth to your photos. Take photos during this time frame to better capture the vehicle colours and sharpen its edges.
Take a look at the photo below, likely taken at noon, when the sun is at its highest, making the light reflect very harshly and casting unwanted shadows.
And compare it with this photo taken at the right time of the day.
As an alternative, you can dedicate a location at your dealership where vehicles can be captured at any time of the day.
With the use of rotating platforms, like the one shown in the image below, you can park the vehicle and take shots of different angles, standing with your camera in the same position. This removes the hassle of moving the vehicle multiple times or walking around it and keeps the consistency across all vehicle photos available on your website.
3. Get someone to detail the vehicle
This should be pretty obvious, but we often see photos of vehicles that were not cleaned at all prior to the photoshoot. Ensuring that each vehicle is properly detailed before taking photos of them will make a significant difference in how your dealership is perceived by prospective customers.
It not only impacts the first impression the consumer has about your business, but also decreases the chances of serious buyers making the next move and visiting your dealership.
Imagine looking at the front window of a store, and seeing items for sale that are full of dust, dog hair and stains. Would you feel motivated to go inside and inquire about a product?
Your website is the front window of your business and if it strives for excellence in every aspect, it should demonstrate that starting with the quality of the product photos it showcases to the public.
4. Take as many photos as possible
With the growing adoption of technologies such as 360-degree cameras that are able to create a level of immersion close to the experience of seeing a location or product in person, consumers are getting more demanding and expect to see a high quantity of photos when browsing through your inventory.
Starting with the classic shots mentioned previously, you should get between twelve to fifteen photos. Once that’s done, complement it with photos of the open hood, open trunk, back seats, and close up photos of the dashboard, entertainment unit, window switch, speakers, shift knob, cup holders and centre-console, to achieve a set of twenty to twenty five photos, which is the ideal amount.
This will not only improve the overall browsing experience for consumers, but it will also build trust and transparency in your business.
5. Pay attention to the background
This can be a hard one, especially if you don’t have a dedicated space at your facility for taking photos of your vehicles.
Other cars, signs, and especially people in the background, can be very distracting. As we want to highlight the vehicle being sold and get eyes on what matters, finding a proper background with no distraction is crucial.
Some dealers like to photograph their inventory with their storefront in the background. While it’s a good idea to have your logo and phone number in the photo, your storefront can have a lot of distracting elements like the ones mentioned above.
Logos and contact information can always be placed as overlays on top of the original image, therefore there’s no need to worry about this when taking photos.
Example of a clean composition where the focus is entirely on the vehicle.
For optimal results, find a corner with high walls, indoors or outdoors, with neutral colours and place your vehicle in front of it. As mentioned previously, rotating platforms make photographing your inventory much easier, but just having the right background will improve your photos tremendously.
6. Create a guide and follow it
Employees come and go, and some are better at taking photos than others.
That being said, having a guide that can be handed to whoever is responsible for taking photos of the vehicles recently added to your inventory, with clear instructions on how to proceed from preparation to submission, is a great idea.
The guide should have clear instructions on the best time of the day to take photos, where to park the vehicle, what angles to shoot from, what parts should have close-up photos, how to submit them and all the do's and don’ts of the entire process.
Keep in mind that your inventory photos are seen by thousands of monthly visitors looking for their next vehicle purchase. Therefore, you should always have a professional approach to taking them. The tips given here fit any budget and can make a significant difference in how customers see your dealership.
Given the indispensable role that vehicle photos play in your business, it is of the utmost importance that every aspect mentioned in this article is taken into consideration when taking photos of each and every vehicle that enters your inventory.
To help you out, we’ve prepared a practical guide. Feel free to share it with your entire team.
As a reminder, EDealer customers can request a vehicle overlay that will be professionally designed and inserted over your inventory photos. If your dealership doesn’t have one yet, contact your Customer Service Representative and request it today.