Omni-channel sportswear retailer uses Live to serve up better content at lower costs
Maxi Sport is a multibrand retailer serving Italy with a huge selection of sports products - both online and offline. They’re Italy’s number one choice when it comes to buying anything from football shirts to ski boots.
Operating from their HQ in Merate, just a short train ride away from Milan, Maxi Sport have built their reputation by being a one-stop-shop for sports equipment. Customers can find items that they'd usually have to source from specialist retailers - or they can shop the latest apparel from the likes of adidas, Nike and Carhartt.
At just over 30,000 products available in-store or via their website, Maxi Sport need to photograph a lot of products. And because that number increases each and every season, they need to do it with speed, ease, and consistency.
When it comes to photographing these products, it's not just taking a single picture of each and putting it online. It means taking detail shots, close up shots, back shots, on model shots - for every product. It also means photographing models wearing outfits for the latest catalog.
So in order to keep up with this increasing demand for content, Maxi Sport realized they needed to find a better, more efficient way to create it. And not only that, Maxi Sport wanted to future-proof their workflow and offer their customers a better online shopping experience - all at the same time.
With video content on social media becoming an increasingly important way to grab hold of attention and sell products, Maxi Sport wanted to stay ahead of the competition. They wanted to add videos to each of their products - all while lowering their costs.
So how did they manage it?
Hello Profoto StyleShoots Live
Live is an all-in-one photo and video studio for fashion. That means that everything you need to run a photo shoot is housed within the device. And there's a reason it gained fame for being the world's first robotic studio.
A Canon camera on a motorized belt is built in. The robotic camera setup moves, tilts and slides in accordance with the instructions set by the user and takes responsibility for shooting all of the clips and photos.
The Style Engine is the brain that powers the whole machine. It's programmed to be smart, and take away all of the technically problematic and time wasting steps involved in a model shoot. So whoever is using it - whether they be a stylist, photographer, or combination of any - can focus on using their creative intelligence.
Every element of the system is the standard used in pro studios, with Hollywood-grade Rotolight lighting and Canon's flagship 1DX mkII DSLR camera.
The lighting system
Inside Live is a custom-developed Rotolight high CRI LED setup with over 11.520 individual LEDs.
Controlled by simply swiping a finger, the LEDs turn on in a flash and flood the set in Hollywood-quality light.
The video engine
Live gives the user a shot-by-shot list of what it intends to film. These are based entirely on customizable presets.
After the user scans the products being filmed, it's time for action - directing the model to get the perfect shot.
The camera setup
A Canon 1DX mkII runs on a motorized belt, along with a depth sensor and motorized zoom and tilt.
With clever software tricks, the camera settings are auto-adjusting to the model height to get the perfect shot.
The costly content creation process
Before being available for purchase online, every item Maxi Sport sells must be photographed. Each item also needs a number of images like close ups, back and front shots and a lot of the time, on a model.
Photographing all of this content is no easy task, it requires a team of marketers, stylists, models, make up artists, photographers and retouchers to all work together. They have a tight schedule to adhere to: the longer a product sits in the warehouse and not in front of customers, Maxi Sport's profit margin shrinks. Even lower still when it must mark down unsold stock to make way for the next season.
Shooting videos for each of these products is even harder. There are more people involved in the filming process, colors need to be matched to existing images, and models must adapt their skills to moving instead of posing still.
Of course there are a lot of benefits to be had for all this investment in time and resources. Better product images are proven to drive sales numbers. Images on a model are proven to sell even better and offer retailers a number of benefits: for example communicating a stylish brand aesthetic, or giving a more accurate impression of fit.
When it comes to the benefits of using video, there's a lot more to be said about why it's becoming increasingly important to brands and their digital audiences these days.
Live was designed to make this whole process easier, and tip the balance of pros to cons in brands' favor when creating content.
"We are used to photographing more than 100 products per day, but the difficulty that we had in the past is that we didn't have enough time and it required a lot of people around this process."
Using Live, Maxi Sport is now able to receive and publish a new product online in a single day. A Vertical system allows them to take invisible mannequin effect packshots so there is a full range of visual content online for customers to see.
Compared to the previous process which required more organizing of shoots and more people on-set, the new workflow gives them incredible flexibility and speed. A new winter jacket in the latest season can go online before their competitors with less resources. This equates to more sales per season.
Better yet, Maxi Sport is able to keep the lighting and color consistent between videos and stills by being shot on the same set - something that's almost impossible to do without a lot of color correction.
"With Profoto we are able to provide much more content for our products. More than seven images, a video, and also details of the product. Now we have the possibility to receive a product, shoot it and have it online in one day, so the experience that our customers have is much better."
Video's increasing importance to retailers
Maxi Sport realized the importance of having a better content strategy when it comes to their online channels. Why? Customers respond positively to better content. Because customers can't actually physically interact with a product before they buy, product images need to give an accurate reflection of the style, fit and color.
If these images aren't high quality, people will buy less as the product isn't being represented in the best light. Worse yet, this can lead to an increase of customers returning their products. A high return rate is one of the biggest causes of e-commerce companies losing out on profit - but customers need to be sure they can trust the brands they buy from.
Videos on the internet aren't a new thing. But with the advent of social media and most of the online generation spending their time on YouTube, e-commerce companies are slowly beginning to realize the value of creating short videos featuring their products as these 5 stats show:
52% of shoppers are more confident in their purchases when shopping with video content
57% are less surprised when receiving products after having seen a video and will be less likely to return
81% more time is spent on sites from consumer audiences watching a video
62% of consumers discover new products through watching videos on their social news feeds
73% more visitors who watch videos of products will buy them
"Social media is the new way that people look at products. Through video you can see how the product feels. For example if you watch a very see-through skirt, you can better understand what you're buying."
What's so useful about having videos of your products?
Touch and feel
64% of consumers say the main thing missing from online shopping is 'touch and feel'.
A video helps to show how the light interacts with the fabric and gives a better impression of how it will look worn.
Higher conversion rate
Stats show a 127% increase in pages visited on sites with video content. Why? It's all about trust and engagement.
A video keeps users more engaged and keeps them on your site. The longer a visitor stays, the more likely a purchase.
These days, 62% of consumers discover new products through watching videos on their social news feeds.
By being able to post product videos on the likes of Instagram and Facebook, potential for discovery exponentially rises.
"I like using Live because it’s very fast. It means that I can have many different materials with a tap of an iPad."