How to outsource photo editing for e-commerce


If you have never used third-party services before or want to find a new company that can give your images a professional look, you might need to learn how to outsource photo editing for eCommerce business. To boost your sales, you need to use high-quality product photos for your listings.

Since there are too many photo-retouching services on the market, it might be difficult to select the right one. However, if you follow some simple steps, you can narrow down the selection and outsource retouching services with little to no effort.

Read on to find out what things you need to consider when selecting the best service for editing your product photos. Learn how to choose a reliable company and avoid working with amateurs who don’t have the necessary skills to do the job well.

1. Determining Service Requirements

If you have decided to outsource image editing, start by checking whether a company that you want to contact provides a full range of services. For instance, some agencies will just send you product images with a white background whereas others can perform advanced image retouching. Make sure to select a company that can cope with any task, from vectorizing your images to creating the clipping path.

Some companies mostly edit product photos in one genre, for instance, they retouch product jewelry or textile images. However, there are agencies that provide a range of services. Make sure to select a company that has an experienced team and professional portfolio. Most such agencies have been providing their services for years, so it’s important to pay attention to customer feedback as well.

By entrusting your photos to a service that specializes in different areas, you can get professional results that will help you grow your business. Such agencies also know how to edit images in accordance with the requirements of such eCommerce platforms as Amazon or eBay.

Before contacting an agency, think about what tasks you need it to perform. Some companies provide only photo editing services, whereas others specialize in advanced photo-retouching as well. While beginners often don’t see any difference between these types of services, they are suitable for solving different tasks.

When editing your photos, experts will perform color adjustment, add or remove objects, highlight details, apply filters, and fine-tune contrast, saturation, etc. At the same time, photo retouchers focus on removing skin imperfections, deleting wrinkles from the clothes, and making the background look smoother.

If you are looking for a company that can edit your business images, it’s better to pay attention to the agencies that are good at photo retouching since their professionals know how to enhance photos without making your products look drastically different.

2. Learn About their Onboarding Process

Every professional photo editing service has an optimized workflow and can meet tight deadlines. Customer onboarding is a crucial part of the client journey since it demonstrates whether a company provides top-notch services. The best companies discuss everything with their clients in advance to ensure their satisfaction.

Onboarding can include online tutorials or useful tips that will make it easier for you to order the services provided by a company. In some cases, you might need to contact managers directly or even invite them to your office to discuss all the issues that they might face when working on your project.

You need to discuss everything in advance before sending thousands of images and placing an order. When working with a pro-level company, you can be sure that you will receive your edited photos back in time.

3. Research Previous and Existing Clients

If you are going to outsource image editing, check whether a company worked on complex projects before. It’s always a good idea to take a look at the client’s list and check out the samples on the portfolio page. It will help you understand if other companies consider this agency to be a reliable partner. The best companies have many positive reviews on their official websites and third-party platforms.

Professional photo editing services with years of experience are likely to have worked with popular brands. It indicates that they meet high requirements and can cope with complex tasks well.

With such companies, you might establish a long-term partnership. Some of them offer discounts for bulk orders. If you have already found an agency that meets all your needs, you won’t have to look for another one in a couple of months. Professional photo editors always have extensive portfolios, so make sure to browse through them to see whether there are any photos relevant to your industry.

4. Inquire about the Capacity of the Service Provider

Learn whether a company has any limits when it comes to the size of the order. In some cases, it might be inconvenient to order a set number of images if you need to enhance only a few product photos. Some agencies can’t cope with large orders in time, so it’s better to clarify everything in advance.

If you want to launch a new product but your order gets delayed, it might negatively affect your sales. This is why it’s better to outsource eCommerce image clipping and editing to a company that accepts bulk orders and has a quick turnaround time.

5. Find Out What Software They Are Using

Well-established agencies use only professional photo editing software. Make sure to ask a company about it during a consultation.

It’s important to hire a company that uses only licensed software. Experienced professionals often prefer Adobe products since they became a quality standard. When discussing your order, you can also ask managers what technologies and photo-retouching techniques their employees use.

Some professionals use AI-driven tools to save time, whereas others perform all the edits manually. You can also find plenty of agencies that still use Dropbox for uploading images. It’s important to get answers to all these questions to decide whether the company you are going to work with follows the recent trends.

6. Check Out the Pricing

If you are on a budget, make sure to compare price lists of the companies that you want to contact. You can easily find a decent photo editing company that can retouch your photos at affordable prices. The price of your order might vary depending on the complexity of the task and turnaround time.

It’s better to select a company that has a transparent pricing policy and works with clients with different budgets. Some agencies offer discounts for bulk orders. The standard price for photo retouching is $2+ per image.

7. Ensure Maximum Security

If you want to send your product photos to a third-party service, check whether it guarantees that your information will remain private. Make sure to analyze whether your photos will be safe during uploading and downloading.

A company might use a cloud server or a secure FTP website. Some agencies are ISO 9001 certified and sign a non-disclosure agreement with their customers. It’s better to clarify all these moments before sending your photos. If you want to sell your products internationally, it’s better to select an agency with ISO standard certification.

8. Ask Questions

By using high-quality product photos, you can drive more customers to your online store and increase your sales. This is why it’s important to send detailed information about your products to the outsourcing company. If you aren’t sure what questions you should ask before placing an order, take a closer look at the examples below:

  • How long does it take for you to send retouched photos back?
  • How many product photos can you retouch until the set deadline?
  • Is it possible for me to suggest any edits?
  • Do you guarantee that I will receive photos that meet all my requirements?
  • Do you ensure customer confidentiality?
  • Will I be refunded if you fail to meet the set deadline?

Such questions will help you clarify important issues beforehand and see whether the company is ready to meet your requirements.

9. Develop a Style Guide

Experts emphasize that it’s crucial to create your own style guide if you want to outsource image editing, since it will ensure that your cooperation with third-party services will be as smooth as possible.

Make sure to let outsourcing photo retouchers know about your requirements in advance and provide them with detailed guidelines on the style, color palette, saturation, contrast, and other parameters. It will help them edit your images in a consistent style.

When placing an order, make sure to add a reference photo to make it easier for photo retouchers to edit your images in a similar style. It’s better to send them several examples of edited pictures to avoid possible misunderstandings in the future. Keep in mind that you need to use at least 5 images for each listing.

10. Figure Out the Attitude Towards Subordinates

Another thing that you need to consider if you care about your brand’s image is whether a company you want to establish a partnership with treats its employees well. While many people disregard this issue, it might become a deal-breaker.

If you are a company owner, it’s crucial to work with partners who share your vision and values. Make sure to select a professional agency with many positive reviews. In case there is any doubt regarding how the photo editing company treats its employees, it’s better to stop cooperation straight away to avoid reputation damage in the future.

About the Author

Tata Rossi is a professional photographer and photo retoucher based in Boston. She works for the FixThePhoto photo-retouching service.

Tata loves sharing useful tips for beginners and professional photographers. She often covers such topics as photography gear, props, poses, etc. Besides, she writes articles about easy-to-implement ideas and explains how her readers can improve their photo-retouching skills. In addition, she creates detailed tutorials for Photoshop, Lightroom, and other professional software.

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