Unique high-resolution images are critical to any e-commerce website, but you don’t have to invest in your own equipment to put together a professional design. More stock asset platforms are connecting vendors to free and low-cost images to fit virtually any situation.

In this article, we’ll walk through some of the best stock image services currently online and explain the differences between the top providers. After reading to the end, you’ll know:

  • Where should you look for stock images?
  • Why are images important for e-commerce websites?
  • What kinds of images do you need for your online store?

What Are the 6 Best Stock Image Services?

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Source: Shutterstock
  1. Pixabay
  2. Death to Stock Photos
  3. Unsplash
  4. Shutterstock
  5. Adobe Stock
  6. Desygner

While it’s impossible to cover every single stock image platform on the internet, we’ve found that these six options stand apart from the rest:

Pixabay

Pixabay is a website with more than 2.5 million total assets including images, videos, music, and vectors. It comes with a strong collection of both illustrated pictures and real photos, which are free for commercial use through the Pixabay license. There aren’t any premium subscriptions or licensing fees to worry about, so Pixabay is a good choice for vendors with limited budgets.

Death to Stock Photos

The key difference between Death to Stock Photos and conventional stock photo sites is that Death to Stock Photos are all originals shot by their creative partners. This gives it more of a curated feel compared to most of the other platforms we’ve covered. Death to Stock Photos currently costs $15 per month or $12 per month paid annually for small businesses and $49 per month or $33 per month billed annually for freelancers and agencies that work with clients.

Unsplash

Unsplash is one of the largest stock image websites online. It provides a wide range of assets such as 3D renders, wallpapers, textures, and even pictures of current events. Unsplash is supported by ads and doesn’t charge for access to any of its assets.

Shutterstock

Shutterstock is another leading stock image service that offers assets through a subscription model. Image plans run $29 per month for ten images, $99 per month for 50 images, $169 per month for 350 images, and $199 per month for 750 images for individual users subscribed on an annual basis. However, Shutterstock also provides on-demand pricing as well as a mixed-asset plan with 25 images, six music tracks, and three video clips at $49 per month with an annual commitment.

Adobe Stock

Adobe Stock is another subscription-based stock image service, although Adobe also offers a limited range of free assets including photos, vectors, and videos. It’s available as an add-on to any Adobe Creative Cloud plan, and standalone subscriptions start at $29 per month for 10 standard assets per month. New users can start with a one-month free trial before deciding whether to continue as a paid subscriber.

Desygner

Desygner is a visual design tool that integrates with Shutterstock to give users access to 150 million unique images and videos. While its stock asset library isn’t as impressive as we’ve seen from other providers, Desygner’s templates and visual design capabilities make it a good option for creators who want to integrate stock images into larger visual elements.

What Images Does Your Small Business Website Need?

  • Hero images
  • Product images

If you want to create an engaging, professional website, you’re going to need strong images. Images are critical for setting the tone of a website and guiding the customer experience. Here are two of the most common types of images on e-commerce websites.

Hero Images

Hero images are large images that typically take up most of a website’s homepage. The End Clothing site, for example, starts with a revolving hero image that showcases some of their most popular collections.

hero image example
Source: End Clothing

The hero image is your best chance to give new visitors an idea of what your store is all about. Following End Clothing’s example of a revolving hero image helps you introduce users to your brand while giving them a chance to see a variety of different products.

Hero images are intended to catch the viewer’s eye, so you should be careful when using stock assets in this way. While some stock images are truly captivating, others look more generic and could prevent your site from making a strong impact on visitors.

Product Images

Product images are fundamental to any successful e-commerce site. Too many stores rely on generic, unclear images that don’t give visitors a clear visualization of the product they’re looking at.

Effective product images include multiple angles and allow users to see all of the item’s key features and characteristics. In some cases, adding videos alongside product images can give viewers even more confidence in what they’re looking at. For example, a product that requires some assembly could be paired with a video of someone completing the setup process.

Like hero images, product images aren’t always a good opportunity for stock images. Remember that if you have access to a stock image, there’s a good chance your competitors can use the same one. Custom product images are often a great investment in the professionalism of an e-commerce website.

amazon product page
Source: Amazon

This Amazon listing is a great example of the power of product images. Milwaukee’s first image shows the main products included in the set clearly, and there are also separate images that focus on each individual item.

Finally, users can see a 360-degree view of the items to get an even more complete visualization. Every image comes in a high resolution and enables viewers to zoom in, giving them all the visuals they could need to know exactly what they’re getting.

How Can You Improve Your E-Commerce Images?

  • Lazy loading
  • SEO

Creating or finding clear, high-resolution visuals is the first step toward successful e-commerce images, but it’s far from the last. There are many effective ways to optimize your images further for better SEO performance and a more intuitive customer experience.

Lazy Loading

Along with poor visuals, long loading times are another issue that can push visitors away from your site. Lazy loading is one of the most powerful e-commerce optimization strategies, particularly for sites with a large number of high-resolution images.

Instead of immediately loading every image on a given page, lazy loading prioritizes elements above the fold — in other words, elements that users can see without scrolling down. Images below the fold only load in as the visitor scrolls down to see them. This approach makes the top of the page display as quickly as possible while avoiding delays from loading elements that the user can’t see.

SEO

SEO is typically associated with text, but it’s also important to keep SEO principles in mind when adding images to your e-commerce site. For example, you should try to remember to name images before you upload them instead of using a default name like IMG0001.PNG.

An image’s alt text and captions can also impact the website’s search engine rankings. Alt text is written to describe the content of an image, which is particularly important for visitors who can’t see the image. In the same way, Google uses it to understand what’s in each image, so clearly written alt text helps you rank more highly for relevant keywords.

Finally, make sure to include captions next to images, especially for images that aren’t visually clear. Remember that using the right SEO software streamlines nearly every aspect of your approach to SEO.

What to Do Next

Images are among the most important elements of any e-commerce site, so it’s critical to choose them wisely. Fortunately, creators have more options than ever when it comes to stock images and other assets. Any of the six sites we’ve listed makes it easy to find professional images for your e-commerce website.

At this point, you’re ready to start adding images to your ecommerce store. Check out these articles for more information: