In an effort to cut costs and create a more efficient product photography process, Phillips Collection has adopted the Aperture Platform by Outward, Inc., an independent Williams-Sonoma, Inc. company and pioneer in visual technology solutions for the home furnishings industry. As the first major furniture manufacturer on the East Coast to utilize the Aperture Platform, Phillips Collection has seen a dramatic increase in productivity, which it attributes to the platform’s technological capabilities and ease of use.
“We’ve only been utilizing the platform for two months and we’ve already seen a considerable difference in our product photography,” said Jason Phillips, vice president of marketing and sales at Phillips Collection in High Point, N.C., and an award-winning furniture designer responsible for the look and feel of the Phillips brand and product line. “Outward has really given us an improved workflow. The speed with which we can get product photographed and available for purchase online has greatly improved and at a significant cost savings for us.”
With two, full-time in-house photographers, as well as contracts with multiple graphic artists in Europe and Asia, “we take our photography and the look of our brand very seriously,” Phillips said, likening the brand’s aesthetic to that of trend-setting lifestyle retailers. “Outward’s automated solution has been assisting us in further elevating the look we want to achieve in a variety of ways,” Phillips said.
Since e-commerce is an essential part of their business, Phillips is very particular with how their products are displayed online, which Aperture Platform has already helped enhance.
“We have to take photos of our products and they have to be in the same direction and at the same angle, which is very important to me,” Phillips explained. “Like other furniture companies, we need to shoot our products and get them onto white backgrounds, all the things Outward can do. We have 4,000 items of repeatable furniture, but we also have a lot of one-of-a- kind items – live edge tables and unique onyx bowls – that we call ‘one-shot products.’ Each one needs to be photographed and put online the same way any other product we sell does, and while each item is slightly different, we still take the time to create an image of each one.”
Streamlining the process enables Phillips Collection to focus its in-house photographers on more lifestyle and editorial photography, while silo costs are reduced by more than 90%.
“While most furniture companies spend anywhere between $200 and $500 on a single product shot, the Aperture Platform costs less than $10 per shot after all is said and done,” Phillips said. “Another benefit is that it takes shots in 20 different lighting settings, so afterwards, I can make shadows look sharper or less distinct.”
Phillips installed the Aperture Platform in February, with help from Outward’s team of professionals, who came to High Point to complete the rig installation and train employees.
“The Aperture Platform installed seamlessly, and everyone on my team has really embraced it,” Phillips said. “Anybody can do it. You just have to be savvy enough to use technology, at the most basic level.”
“With the training session from the Outward team, I felt comfortable enough to take on a wide array of items,” said Ben Stanley, a staff photographer at Phillips Collection who catalogs new inventory and has been actively using the Aperture Platform. “It has been able to handle whatever we have thrown at it. Furthermore, it has freed our team up to be able to focus on branding and marketing, all of whom would normally be cutting away at hundreds of images per week. It has quickly become our workhorse and takes care of most of our product now.”
“We’re just barely scratching the surface on what Outward offers. I can’t wait to start using the virtual environments,” Phillips said.