How Amazon’s Purchase of Whole Foods Could Affect Your Ecommerce Business (Part 2)


Continuing from my previous post regarding Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods, let’s examine several more key outcomes of this historic acquisition:

This means change for the whole grocery industry

The grocery industry is notorious for it’s poor margins (1-2%), and self-checkout kiosks have done little to alleviate the many pain-points that physical grocery stores still have. This doesn’t mean that it’s a poor market to enter; it means that it’s a market ripe for disruption. If Amazon does to the physical grocery network what it did to online retail, the rest of the traditional grocery companies will have to adapt. Traditional grocers were already down 10% in pre-opening trading after the announcement, a foreshadowing of potential change. While companies like Walmart may have already mastered distribution, they have nowhere near the level of technical prowess necessary to compete with Amazon. Even though Whole Foods doesn’t give Amazon as extensive a level of distribution as the larger grocery chains have, this won’t matter if grocery delivery becomes the new norm. Many in the e-commerce industry have already adapted to Amazon’s distribution network, and they will be poised to take advantage of this entirely new market.

Amazon’s Ambitions aren’t to be an online retailer; they are to be wherever the customer is

Before the launch of Apple’s original iPhone, Palm CEO Ed Colligan famously said,”We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.” Similarly, it was only two years ago that Whole Foods CEO John Mackey made the statement that groceries would be Amazon’s Waterloo. The issue with both of these statements is that they misunderstood Apple and Amazon’s goals. Apple, a computer company, didn’t want to build a phone, they wanted to build the most personal computer ever. Similarly, Amazon doesn’t just want to sell products (and groceries) online, it wants to own the market wherever the customer is.

This aligns perfectly, with Amazon’s Mission Statement:

“Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company”

Ultimately, it is a customer-focused services company, not a retail company. Having Whole Foods under its umbrella will allow Amazon to have a guaranteed customer for building out its distribution network to optimize for perishable goods, something that was lacking with Amazon Fresh. This won’t only bring nifty new technology to Whole Foods, but will incentivize the network Amazon can use for Amazon Go, Amazon Fresh delivery, and eventually drone delivery. This goes doubly for the company selling through Amazon, as it only provides more distribution channels and product opportunities for you to consider.


Even given these facts, you may still be unsure about the acquisition. Regardless, it is undeniable that Amazon’s culture and identity are perfect for entrance into this market. The value of physical grocery stores isn’t in the quick accessibility of picking up the 2-3 things you need for dinner, but in the experience of walking into the store and stumbling upon dozens of other purchases that you didn’t even realize you needed. If there was one website in the world that gave you the same experience, what would it be? That’s what I thought you’d say.

Heavily consider what it means to prepare for this change and go into a new market hand-in-hand with Amazon, as it could mean the future for many Ecommerce businesses.

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What Amazon’s Acquisition of Whole Foods Could Mean for your E-commerce Business (Part 1)


Ready to have your granola and freshly-ground coffee gently placed at your doorstep by a drone? That dream may have become one step closer today. The recent announcement of Whole Foods’ acquisition by Amazon has come at a surprise to many, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a perfect match. Here are 5 things you probably didn’t know about the massive $13.7 billion deal that may affect those selling on Amazon.


This may (finally) be the moment for grocery delivery

Though drone delivery continues to be unlikely in the short-term due to FAA regulations in the U.S., that doesn’t mean we won’t see it’s development alongside traditional home delivery in the next few years. Grocery delivery has always been a problematic industry, from its inception with WebVan at the dawn of the internet to more recent entrants like Instacart. So far, the convenience, limited selection, and affordability haven’t been enough to break the industry into the mass-market, but this could change. Specifically, Whole Foods adds a massive network of locations around the U.S. to Amazon’s already extensive network of distribution centers, allowing the company to make grocery delivery available to more than a few niche cities. With Whole Foods under its ownership, Amazon will also have a guaranteed customer for building out its distribution network to optimize for perishable goods, something that was lacking with Amazon Fresh when it launched.


It’s not a done deal

While this deal has been monumental for Amazon, it may only signal the beginning of a larger trend. Rumors are growing of potential new acquisitions of grocery store chains from other tech-focused companies. In fact, this may only be the beginning of a large bidding war for and between larger grocery chains like Kroger and Publix in order to adapt to the age of Ecommerce.


Amazon Go could be coming sooner than expected

Amazon Go, the company’s magical new initiative to build grocery stores that will allow people to walk in, grab their food, and leave without ever having to wait in line or pay via a terminal, may be getting it’s legs sooner than expected. While the 2017 opening of first Amazon Go’s location in Seattle will likely continue as planned, this acquisition could mean a much faster ramp-up for the service. Amazon will now be able to leverage its technology in existing Whole Foods locations rather than build its own physical network of stores.

The addition of Whole Foods takes Amazon’s physical presence to a new level. The grocery chain includes more than 460 stores in the United States, Canada and Britain with sales of $16 billion in the last fiscal year. Mikey Vu, a partner at the consultancy Bain & Company who is focused on retail, said, “They’re going to be within an hour or 30 minutes of as many people as possible.” – The New York Times


Imagine the implications for businesses in the e-commerce market, which could be about to experience a huge explosion! For more thoughts on this subject, stay tuned.

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Guide: How to Photograph White/Clear Products on a Pure White Background

If you’re a sole proprietor or small business selling products on Amazon, you’ve probably done some form of the following when trying to get a pure white background for your products: You either use Amazon’s Seller app, which will take care of most of the work for you, or stick your images in a basic editor and turn up the highlights/exposure until the background is as close to a pure white as possible.

For most products, these techniques can create quality images. But if you are trying to sell a product that is either white or made of a clear material, then you’ve probably experienced poor results using typical methods. These products will at best appear washed out, or at worst completely disappear against the background. Here’s a few tips on to get around these problems.

1. Experiment with Backlighting

Backlighting is the easiest approach, and is what most photographers will recommend. However, it will only work well for matte white, non-clear products. If your product is made of plastic, glass or metal, skip ahead to the next tip.

The whole point of backlighting is to make sure your background is a different color white than your product. Since Amazon requires backgrounds to be a pure white (RBG 255, 255, 255), your product will need to be a darker shade of white than the background. The dance here is to: a) make sure your lighting isn’t blown out, making your product lose detail in its highlights, and, b) make sure your product doesn’t look dirty/muddy because it is a darker shade of white.

If you already have your white background (could be a light box, a white sheet of paper that is curved behind/underneath the product, etc.), all you will need to do is make sure you’ve got your main light source behind the product. In the case of using a lightbox or light tent, your background will be your light source. Otherwise, you have to make sure that your background is more lit up than the front of your product is. This may mean shining another light on the background. No matter what, you should also have a second, softer light shining from the front or at an angle, so that the front of your product isn’t a silhouette. See the example below:

Note: You can substitute studio lights here by using the sun as your main light source, and a piece of white cardboard/paper as a reflector at the front of the product to reflect soft light onto it.

2. Use Something Dark to Make an Outline

This is a more intense process, but it produces absolutely gorgeous photos. It’s the solution I recommend and works perfectly for glass products. The idea here is that if there’s a dark object very close to your white or clear product, it’s dark color will reflect on the outside of your product, giving it an outline. Let me show you using an example of the initial set-up for a glass picture I photographed:

This method is the simplest way you can accomplish this. Try cutting out black pieces of paper in the rough shape of your product. The black of the paper will reflect on your glass or white surface and create a pleasing gradient around the outside, almost like someone traced the outside edge of your product in a dark color. In this way, the inner part of your product can be a similar shade of white to the background, getting rid of the muddy look that some products have. However, this will — as you can clearly see from the above photo — require a lot of editing, which leads my to my next point…

3. Cut Out Your Product With Editing

Most product images can get close to a pure white background just by adjusting up the brightness of an image, but doing so will blow out the detail in your white/clear products! Instead, you’re going to to need to cut out your product from the background in editing. Here’s a quick video of what this looks like:

I used an application on the iPad called ProCreate to do this, but there’s tons of options. I recommend using Adobe’s Photoshop Mix on your phone or tablet, or if you want to use a computer, try Photoshop (Or Gimp for a free alternative). All you need to do is use the cut out/scissors tool built into the application to trace the outline of your product, and then either erase the background or brighten it. You’re probably gonna want a more in-depth tutorial for this part, so here’s a couple:

Gimp tutorial

Photoshop Tutorial

4. Cheat! (Don’t even use a white background)

If you’re already planning to cut out the background, who’s to say you even need a white background? This is mostly applicable to non-clear products, but there are exceptions. For example, check out the two images below:

The first image was shot using the black paper technique I mentioned earlier. It’s color balance fits with the pure white, but that’s not what color the Edison bulb is actually going to look like in real life. The second image was shot against a dark background to show the warm light of the Edison bulb, and then cut out to be placed against a pure white. Because of its warm tones and contrast against the background, it is arguably the more striking photo. (Don’t even ask how the bulb was lit without being screwed in. It involved a hole being blown in my background and tripping my studio’s breaker).

Continue reading “Guide: How to Photograph White/Clear Products on a Pure White Background”

5 Product Photography Tips from Professionals


When you don’t know what to do, do what’s right and what’s in front of you. But not necessarily what’s right in front of you.

– Brent Weeks

Product Photography is (rightfully) seen as one of the most complicated and difficult niches in the photography world, but it’s also one that many non-photographers are thrown into.

There are thousands of sole proprietors pouring their time and hearts into making and releasing great products across the web, and most have never touched a professional camera before. Being thrown into this world can be intimidating, but knowing a little can go a long way towards improving the quality of your listings and saving you a lot of money. Whether you’re an Amazon seller, a marketer, or a budding photographer, here’s 5 short product photography tips to get you started in the field…

1. Learning a little about light goes a long way

Product photography in its simplest form is about understanding how light behaves and reacts to different surfaces and colors. Move your product around when taking photos to experiment with different amounts of reflection, illumination and brightness. Do not photograph your product in a room without studio lights or windows. Here’s a couple of basics:

  • Light is your best friend; get as much of it as possible! I don’t mean get 50 lamps piled into your bedroom studio, but avoid dark locations. They will leave parts of your images out of focus and make the colors worse.
  • Color temperature is how warm the colors are of the light is around you (more orange/red = warm CT). White background photos typically look best at a cooler color temperature, so no lousy house lighting. Try shooting in natural light for an easy fix.

Take a look at this post to get a better understanding of color temperature and light.

2. No budget? Go natural

As a general rule, if you can’t or don’t want to pay for a product photographer, you won’t want to spend enough to get a lighting setup that will outperform natural light. Try going to a local arts store, picking up a large sheet of soft white paper, taping it to a wall with easy access to a natural light, and shooting your photos in the early morning for the softest light and best color temperature.


3. Sweat the details!

Things small enough that you would never notice in person can become huge issues when reviewing your photos. Take the time to prepare a product with as few scratches and blemishes as possible, wipe down every surface, and clean your product with a camera lens/eyeglass cloth every few minutes during your shoot to get rid of smudges and dust.

Product Photography Tips.png

4. Editing is Cheap, Easy, and Necessary

No matter how hard you try, there will always be blemishes on your product, and no matter how good your background is when you are photographing it, it will never result in the pure white that you need for webpages. $10 a month will get you access to Adobe’s full suite of photography applications on your computer and on mobile. For the PC/Mac, try options as simple as Photoshop’s paint bucket tool to make your background a pure white, or Lightroom’s excellent blemish-removing features. For iOS, try Adobe’s Photoshop Fix or Pixelmator for blemish removal, and Photoshop Mix for background removal. If you want a more professional solution, try Affinity Photo.

5. Know Your Platform

Each online platform like Amazon, eBay, and Etsy has its own guidelines for product photography. Amazon has especially strict guidelines for their listings, so take a couple minutes to look over the guidelines for the platforms you’ll be selling on. Also keep in mind things like image size when uploading your photos. Huge images = huge load times, so take the time to optimize your images for the platform you upload them to.

Amazon Guidelines

Ebay Guidelines

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