Emerging technology is transforming and simplifying workflows in just about every industry and eCommerce photo studios are no different. As a studio manager, it helps to stay ahead of the curve. And as we prepare for our Studio Manager Playbook launch, here are a few of the specifics you need to know about using digital tools to streamline your operations.
What is Emerging Technology?
Emerging tech refers to innovative tools, applications, and even processes that are currently under development or will be developed soon. The risk of not keeping up with these technologies is that you could be left behind as your competitors embrace them, potentially leading to a loss of efficiency, competitiveness, or even your business entirely. Conversely, the rewards of staying on the cutting edge of technology can be significant, including improved operational efficiency, increased revenue, and a stronger position in the market.
On episode 102 of the E-Commerce Content Creation Podcast, Raphael Ruz, Photographic Operations Manager at Hogarth Australia, made an incredible point about emerging tech, saying, “We know these tools and various applications are coming almost daily at the moment. One of my favorite quotes is that, “technology changes quickly, but organizations change much more slowly.” Without planting the seed of what’s useful, what isn’t useful, how can we play with these tools to empower our team? I think we’re at a point in time where we need to be actively in that space and dedicating resources to exploring what’s possible there.”
Innovation and Experimentation Encouraged
For many reasons, it’s important to take the time to research (and at least consider) emerging tech. Many technology providers offer free trials, allowing you to test out their solutions and see if they're a good fit for your team before committing to a purchase. Often just thinking about the way things are done in your studio can lead to unexpected benefits, such as discovering a new way to streamline your workflow or a tool that enhances your team's creative capabilities.
But remember, change is scary for a lot of people, “So what’s important is that as a leader you don’t bluntly announce a change, you sell change to employees. To do this, the added values must be used. Unfortunately, this happens far too rarely.” says Florian Wendländer, Creative Force Product Manager, formerly at Orendt Studios in Hamburg.
Tech Gives Your Team Time
Finally, before we dive in, remember that one of the most important pieces about embracing new technology isn’t even the technology itself, it’s the time that the technology gives your team back. In so many instances, photo studio team members aren’t doing the work that they were hired to do anymore, they’re doing extra tasks that need to be done to complete their job.
To simplify, imagine your retoucher spends hours every day searching for missing files, renaming files, fixing human errors, or any other plethora of “quick fixes,” allowing them to do their job instead of retouching photos. Now, imagine if a piece of technology organized, named, and removed the opportunity for human error that they would normally fix. Think about how much time your team could take back with even one of these systems in place.
The Role of Automation in eCommerce Photography
Speaking of automation, it’s an essential part of how emerging technology is reshaping eCommerce photography. By using tools that automate repetitive tasks, such as batch photo editing or metadata tagging, studio managers can significantly reduce the manual workload for their teams. This not only leads to a more efficient workflow and greatly reduces human error, but it also frees up time for creative work, which as we all know, is where your team truly shines.
Lucia Olivieri, Creative Studio Manager at Swarovski, tells us, "In my experience, automation for common content can be extremely time- and resource-saving. On the upside, this is easily applicable to simple product images such as still-life images. Whereas for more creative content I reckon most creatives will be "jealous" and prefer controlling the outputs down to the smallest detail." She continues, "I do think automation is essential for 90% of the content but some elements (high focus) still need a creative eye for review."
One of the big buzzwords in eCommerce photography today is artificial intelligence (AI). AI is revolutionizing the eCommerce photography space by automating processes and providing a personalized experience for consumers.
- With the use of emerging AI technologies, businesses are now automating everything from photo editing to creating the entire image itself, significantly reducing the time taken to prepare images for online use.
- AI is also used to analyze photos, correct color, crop, resize, and remove backgrounds from images, making it easier for eCommerce businesses to manage their product images.
The use of AI in eComm photography increases efficiency and improves the overall quality of product images, which is critical in the eCommerce sector, where the image often plays a significant role in a consumer's decision to purchase a product.
When discussing AI, says Florian, one thing to consider is that “a lot of people see it not as an opportunity, but as a threat. Many see themselves as replaced and therefore claim that they are ‘better than AI.’ In fact, it’s more about working together with AI.”
Speaking of AI, Creative Force has a webinar on Wednesday, May 17th discussing the 5 Ways AI Will Impact eComm Content Production and will explore a few key areas of AI, including data collection, virtual models, 3D models, and more.
Planning Tools for Everyday Boosts
Planning tools are another area where emerging technology is making a big impact. These tools can help you manage your team's schedule, allocate resources, and track project progress, all in a single, easy-to-use interface. This can result in significant time savings and make your entire operation more organized and efficient.
At the end of the day, anything that can help simplify our daily work lives in the photo studio are tools that we need to keep an eye on. Keep your eyes peeled for Creative Force to respond to this need in the coming months.
Other Trends in Emerging Technologies for eCommerce Photography
Looking ahead, there are a few areas that we believe will have a more prominent focus on in the future, including:
- Security and Advanced Encryption: As more and more data is stored and transferred digitally, protecting that data from threats will be crucial.
- Blockchain: From security to fraud prevention, data storage, and even payment, blockchain is here and will continue to innovate.
- 360 Imagery: Allowing shoppers to see the entire 360-degree view of the product/model.
- Unedited Photos: More and more shoppers are looking for authenticity in their eCommerce imagery, meaning fewer edits before going live.
- Video: Every day video is expanding in eComm, it allows for a narrative to be told, while selling, creating more of a connection with shoppers.
Don't Forget Hardware
While everything above is focused on the digital side of things, every studio manager knows that hardware is also extremely important. From the lighting to the cameras and computers, it's important to keep an eye on what can be improved upon across it all. Anything that helps your team do their job easier, quicker, or more efficiently is something to consider. Don't be afraid to ask the team what their thoughts are on the subject and keep communication flowing as smoothly as your software.
Stay tuned for more insights into the world of eCommerce photography and the role of emerging technology. And don’t forget to sign up for our Studio Manager Playbook, where we delve deeper into these topics and offer practical advice for leveraging technology to optimize your operations.
In the meantime, we encourage you to experiment with free trials, explore new tools, and keep an open mind. As many thought leaders have said in the past, "You never fail until you stop trying." So, keep pushing the boundaries and leveraging the power of emerging technology to take your eCommerce studio to the next level.
The Studio Manager Series & Playbook
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