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Producing the best assets across all channels, at every stage

If your brand has both a considerable wholesale operation and a growing direct-to-consumer (DTC) business, it’s critical to communicate your story strategically across those different channels.

If your brand has both a considerable wholesale operation and a growing direct-to-consumer (DTC) business, it’s critical to communicate your story strategically across your different channels with good content. That means producing the right assets for each channel during different stages of your go-to-market strategy. Doing this well is vital to growth. But it’s not always easy.

Choosing the right content production strategy

As brands have wrestled with the best approach to this problem, two content strategies have emerged: specialized and adaptive.

A specialized approach delivers a more highly tuned and elevated experience across each stage of the season. For example, during the creation of sell-in imagery, a specialized production strategy will produce a high-end “hero” shot that has been uniquely prepped and styled to tell that product’s story.

By contrast, an adaptive content production strategy will value flexibility over rigid style parameters. That might mean creating product assets derived from 3D models. The upside to this approach would be that it allows for endless frame and lighting permutations in post-production.

Different stages of the season have different demands. Being flexible enough to adapt to the current stage of the season means harnessing the benefits of both an adaptive and specialized approach. But what do these different approaches look like during the production cycle for a typical season, and which stage requires which strategy?

Stage one: Forecasting

At this stage, the physical product is a hot commodity. With all departments clamoring for the product, the demand is high. The challenge here is simply getting the product in front of the camera long enough to capture it. A specialized approach here allows a photography team to capture a fast deliverable—a few angles on white—that can be used in forecasting.

Trying to push for anything more at this stage slows down production for needed deliverables and plugs up the entire go-to-market pipeline. Moreover, it’s likely that a product at this stage of the season will go through dramatic changes, so shooting for a simple standard means rapid turnarounds and smooth production.

Specialized forecasting solution: Two-frame e-commerce shots

A hero shot and a feature shot on white, with a clipping path, gets the job done. It’s a quick capture with flexible outputs that enable any post-production changes line updates might require. Simple to capture again for major updates, but easy to change in post for additional colorways or other small tweaks.

Lateral shot of a Merrell shoe next to a shot of the sole
A two-frame e-commerce shot example.

Stage two: Shooting for sell-in

Sell-in can be challenging, as it brings an increased diversity of needs along with more demand for assets as you work to support your sales team. Sell-in requires that you build product experiences to support your wholesale B2B system, your merchandising systems, and your rep tools. These tools often leverage multi-frame photography that appears directly in the platform, but also gets repurposed for downloadable PDF digital catalogs.

This diversity of uses means a variety of shots are needed, including products on white or transparent backgrounds, lifestyle photos and videos, model shots, and more.

There will also be a call for a selection of digital media and assets, empowering your sales team to tell your brand’s seasonal story. This can mean anything from enhanced product feature shots to short 360-degree video to longer featurettes.

Your retail partners will also want imagery that supports their efforts to sell your brand inside their own digital experiences. These assets will need to remain consistent with what retailers have already received from any other brands they carry.

That’s a lot of demand put on your photo team at this stage. Let’s break down the solutions.

Specialized sell-in solutions: Multi-frame e-commerce photography and product videos

Four views of a Merrell shoe
Multi-frame e-commerce photography can be very useful.

Multi-frame e-comm photography is a straightforward approach to product photography for your B2B systems, digital catalogs, and your retail partner’s systems. Product videos include walk-in and 360° product shots that deliver a simple, elevated experience and can be used widely across your B2B systems and web presentation tools. Additional videos showing your products in use can help arm your reps to accurately show and tell. Examples of both are below.

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Adaptive sell-in solution: 3D model and 2D renders

An adaptive sell-in solution allows for the production of 2D assets from a 3D model. Multi-frame e-commerce imagery can be sourced from a 3D model, rather than captured from a real product sample. This offers an incredible amount of flexibility. Camera angles, lighting, and the number of frames can be quickly adjusted after the initial capture. This approach has definitive upsides given its flexibility, but comes with some product position limitations and aesthetic challenges for more complex products.

Six views of a CAT boot
Multi-frame images generated from 3D model

Shooting for sell-through

At this point, you’re bringing your line to market, both with your wholesale partners and on your own DTC website. Your e-commerce photography from the sell-in stage may be satisfactory, but many brands will realize that this stage of the season requires them to tell their product story in a different way.

This can mean either adding assets to what has already been captured, or replacing the existing assets with all new deliverables. Additionally, there is more of a demand for highly specialized custom photography to fuel specific marketing product campaigns as your brand works to increase sell-through.

Specialized sell-through solutions

Multi-Frame e-commerce photography and specialized deliverables. If your brand is operating with an established standard for photography, it can be possible to add deliverables to the existing multi-frame e-commerce deliverable from your sell-in stage.

Six detailed views of a single or pair of Merrell shoes

Elevated specialized photography. However, some brands will want to deploy an entirely new set of e-commerce photography.

Five separate products displayed with or without models or on different backgrounds

Elevated product videos using a robocam. The robocam can create dynamic camera moves that can be repeated across many products. Once the correct movements are programmed, the robocam is set to a very high frame rate, allowing it to move at high speeds for each camera pass. It can take as little as five seconds to get the full movement around a footwear item, but the result is a perfectly shot, dynamic pan around the shoe that lasts 10 seconds. Being able to deliver this high level of production value across 50 to 60 SKUs per hour has tremendous value. Check out our partner D/CAL’s recent work with 5.11 as an example.

Adaptive sell-through solution: 3D model and 2D renders

The same 3D model that was leveraged during sell-in to render multi-frame photography can work to create additional elevated images for sell-through.

Five shots of individual floating shoes
Images rendered from 3D models.

Envoy B2B Studios aligns asset production at every stage

Planning, creating, and delivering the right product experiences to your teams is fundamental to empowering a successful season, now more than ever. Take care in working with both your wholesale and direct sales teams, and carefully consider when to deploy an adaptive or specialized product photography model. The team at Envoy B2B Studios is here to help you meet the needs of each stage of bringing your line to market, and also to help forge your path to a clean and efficient production cycle each season. Learn more about Envoy B2B Studios here.