The Snap36 Blog

Why 360 Product Photography Intrigues The European Shopper


It was 2005 and the CEO of our company had just asked me if I would be interested in taking over our International Sales and Operations for our start up, rich-media company, Scene7.  I never hesitated, and said “absolutely, when can I get my tickets to Europe”!  Afterall, we had just finished our best quarter ever and the Scene7 Saas platform had tremendous momentum in the US, especially amongst the forward thinking Internet Retailer 200.  Taking this flashy (no pun intended) solution to Europe would be a piece of cake, as we all know the Europeans are very visual and have an insatiable appetite for quality. Think Gucci, Prada, BMW, Mercedes, Harrods, etc. and you get the Euro picture.  Who doesn’t want to see their products on the web in high resolution, with the ability to zoom in to see the texture and fine workmanship, just as you would expect if you picked up a product in the market.  Our platform was a natural for the Euro demographic….I thought!

Unbeknownst to me at the time, lay a sleeping bear in the middle of Europe…Germany!  Where emotion is a four letter word and design and engineering are nurtured in the womb.  I had been giving my sales presentation for four years, it was a finely tuned machine, and my hit rate was approaching triple digits, as the notion of having better, clearer, easier, more beautiful images on your website was a no brainer.  I was unflappable….until I awoke the Grizzly, “Ve have been sooming on hi-res images for 10 years here in Germany….we get it, now go home”!  I was taken aback, my American pride hurt a bit, I was second guessing my career move….how could this be, our technology was all the rage in the US.  At this point, my German host noticed my bloodless face and warmed up a bit…he began explaining…..

“We Germans are shoppers, we go to the market, we like to look and feel, touch, smell and rub products before we buy them” (I also wanted to add reverse engineer, but I held my tongue).  He added, “we are also innovators…if we need something, we just make it….like the ability to zoom on products on the web….this is how we mimic the market…how we can simulate the look, feel touch, smell…as close as is possible through a computer.  We have been doing it since 1999”.  I was still a bit shocked, but dedided I better pursue my plan B, and approach the UK first….glad I did!

But it was here that I learned that if you really want to understand what makes people buy…what tickles their emotion to take action…what gives them purchase confidence….we should study the people who invented the marketplace, the ones who have been shopping for thousands of years, the ones who stroll and mosey and evaluate….not the gadget happy, ADHD, instant gratification consumers of the US….

Ironically, it was also here, in Germany, that I was first introduced to a technology in 2007 that I feel will contribute to the transformation of online shopping the way zoom did in the mid-2005 era.  The cool,360 spin photography robots that I discovered in Wiesbaden now make the process of creating these experiences simple, scalable and affordable.  Yesterday’s zoom is today’s 360 & 3D product photography….and I believe that it will be ubiquitous in the US within the next couple years..I know, I know, I’m very old school…shouldn’t I be focused on social, mobile, and all of the latest trends?  Perhaps…but don’t ask me….ask my good, German friends…they know!!

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