To compensate for the lack of other senses, e-commerce shoppers make decisions based on compelling, detailed photography. It used to take Balsam Brands weeks, if not a month, to make product photography accessible. With the Widen Collective®, photography is available in a day.
About Balsam Brands
Balsam Brands is an e-commerce retailer that sells highly realistic artificial Christmas trees and seasonal decor. Their products are displayed in many homes and routinely used by set designers of popular TV shows.
Balsam Brands seeks to thrill their customers. Their e-commerce site depends on high-quality product photography. We interviewed Lara Baggio, brand management analyst, and Cassie Fossum, brand manager, to learn more about how Balsam Brands has simplified how they get photographs onto their e-commerce site using the Widen Collective® and Hybris.
“From September to January, [it] is go-go-go,” Baggio says. Balsam Brands launches many of their products in that period and those product launches generate a lot of photography for their e-commerce site. A staged product photograph helps the visitor picture the product in their living room or set design. Detail shots show off the quality and features of the product.
Delivering a seamless experience on the website, where those different images need to fit into a natural flow, was a challenge for Balsam Brands. One product photograph will live on multiple pages in different sizes for different purposes. On one page, a photo is a thumbnail preview, and on another page, it’s super zoomed.
Before uploading to the site, the photographer would create different sizes of the photograph. After, there was a complex workflow to get the multiple sizes of the photograph into the system. “It [the photograph workflow] had to use a very specific naming convention and the images had to be put in very specific folders or else the FTP would break or images would show up incorrectly,” Baggio says.
“Only a few people had the knowledge on how to use the tool, and that limited and created a lot of bottlenecks for updating images,” she added.
The Widen solution
After evaluating other digital asset management systems and their e-commerce system’s product content and catalog management system, they selected the Collective to manage their product photography and feed images to their site management tool, Hybris.
With the Collective, Balsam Brands eliminated the process of creating multiple sizes of the same photograph and managing those files in a complicated folder structure. Once a photograph is uploaded to the Collective, it’s ready to be cropped and embedded via an embed code. Anyone with permission can access that photograph, and there’s no more relying on a few people’s knowledge of the system.
“The ability to upload images at once, fill in the metadata, and have them appear on site...that is invaluable,” says Baggio. “We would upload one image, and Widen resizes it going through Hybris...that would mean one asset for all the places on site. That made it really easy to keep track of all the images.”
“For us, success is that our images and videos are successful on the site without any issues,” Fossum says. Balsam Brands has also seen:
Faster turnaround times for photography. By eliminating the manual image resizing and inflexible FTP structure, product photography is available faster. “As long as the photographer takes the photograph and then puts it into Widen, all that can happen in the same day. With our old system, it usually takes weeks, even a month,” Fossum says.
A more professional experience for images and video. Before the Collective, videos were hosted on a variety of platforms and embedded in the e-commerce site. The simplicity of the Collective’s video player keeps the focus on the Balsam brand. “It’s definitely a more professional experience for our customers,” Fossum says.
Expanding use. The Collective has made such an impact on how their teams work with product photography that they want it to eventually be the place for all Balsam Brands photography. They envision it as a location where they can communicate internally about their brand’s look and feel and as a place where people go for brand inspiration.
A partner to support success. “Widen has really beat my expectations in terms of responsiveness,” says Fossum. Their customer experience manager provides quick answers, and if she doesn’t know the answer, she finds the person who does. “I would definitely recommend Widen. I like to think of it as this partnership where when we’re successful, so is Widen.”