Using Stock Images on Your eCommerce Shop

The cliche of a picture being worth a thousand words is just as true on your online shop as it is everywhere else. The struggle is real though when you’re first starting to setup; do you pay for a photographer to take some captivating pictures or do you use some high quality stock images?

The choice really depends on your budget. If you have the money and the subject matter to get some bespoke photos made up then great! If not, then you’ll have to start looking around for some good pictures to cover you in the meantime.

Fortunately, there are a bunch of great stock image sites that serve this very need such as Shutterstock, Adobe Stock and Unsplash. Before you get lost in the search for the perfect images, take note of these points to remember.


1 - Licensing

Not all images are licensed the same or produced for the same purpose. A fair proportion of them will be copyright or available for personal use only. The 3 most common licence types are Royalty Free, Non-Exclusive and Creative Commons, the latter of which is split into a further 7 types.

Royalty Free -

Refers to using copyrighted material without the need to pay royalties or license fees for each use, copy or volume sold. You can use them for commercial or non-commercial purposes and can edit them as you need to.

Non Exclusive -

This grants the licensee (you) the right to use the images, but on a non-exclusive basis. Which means that anyone can use them as long as they pay for it.

Creative Commons -

CC licences allow various levels of ‘ownership’ all of which, except C0, must give attribution or credit to the artist who produced them. The various licences can be quite confusing at first glance and can be a minefield if you do not check the fine print and licence type on the image.

The different types of creative common licence is best shown by the Wikipedia table below.

Outside the C0 or public domain content are:

Attribution, CC BY

Images under this licence can be used and distributed for commercial or personal use as long as it’s credited to the original artist. They can also be edited and modified as you need or want.

Attribution-ShareAlike, CC BY-SA

Images under this licence can be used and distributed for commercial or personal use as long as it’s credited to the original artist. They can also be edited and modified as you need or want. The modified version is then yours to distribute on a BY-SA licence.

Attribution-NoDerivative, CC BY-ND

Images under this licence can be used and distributed for commercial or personal use as long as it’s credited to the original artist. They cannot be edited and modified

Attribution-NonCommercial, CC BY-NC

Images under this licence can be used and distributed for personal use only and as long as it’s credited to the original artist. They can also be edited and modified as you need or want. The modified version is then yours to licence.

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike, CC BY-NC-SA

Images under this licence can be used and distributed for personal use only and as long as it’s credited to the original artist. They can also be edited and modified as you need or want. The modified version is then yours to distribute on a BY-NC-SA licence.

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivative, CC BY-NC-ND

Images under this licence can be used and distributed for personal use only and as long as it’s credited to the original artist. They cannot be edited and modified


2 - Specificity

Specific stock images sounds like an oxymoron but bear with us here. There are a lot of very generic images out there. How many times have you looked on a company’s about page and seen the ‘call centre lady’ or ‘young millennials in an office’? We’re willing to bet quite a few times. In fact the image below, using a Google Image Search appeared on various sites for a full 14 pages (before we got bored of scrolling)!

So be specific in your search and don’t just pick the first image you see on the front page. Use words that will appeal to your audience to search for images. If you’re selling beauty products, then an image search with “blue flat lay beauty products” may be all you need for that hero image or banner image.


3 - High Res is Best

There’s nothing more off putting than visiting a site with low quality, pixelated or blurry imagery. Not only does it look unprofessional but it also appears that little care has been taken on the website build. Using high quality, scalable/resizable images gives your site a better look and will, hopefully, increase the likelihood of retaining new visitors.

Of course if you’re importing high quality images you can use our image editor to make stock images look better or more unique.


4 - Complementary Imagery

Make note of your company’s colour scheme/palette and use complementary colours in your imagery that will accentuate this. Make it feel like the image was made for you and your site. Whether that’s with similar coloured backgrounds, filters or contrasting colours is up to your own creative mind.


5 - No Right Click, Save

Obviously there is the chance to search very specific imagery out using a search engine. However, we would suggest avoiding the ‘right-click, save mentality’. You won’t know what the licensing is on the image you're saving and potentially opening yourself up to copyright infraction or court cases.


6 - Image Managers

The image manager within the PushCommerce platform allows you to edit, adjust and modify pictures as you need to. Alternatively, sign up for an app like Stencil or Desygner and edit to your heart’s desire.