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Delivering accurate product color to improve a company's sales

Updated: Nov 22, 2023

The highest percentage of customer returns come from inaccurate color. “It didn’t look that way online!” Deliver misleading images for your web team and you end up turning off #shoppers, adding cost to your company while affecting future sales.

One of my previous post-production leadership roles may have been to art direct and overseeing retouching #digitalassets to ensure beautiful imagery and accurate product color, however I knew I was not in the business of #postproduction. My team's efforts were about improving #customerexperience, increasing #sales, and reducing #returns, especially for the two brands I managed (Pottery Barn Kids and Pottery Barn Teen), both of which contain vibrant, multi-colored products.

The first step to successful post-production is an #industrystandard color system of calibrated monitors (ideally Eizo monitors) matching calibrated lightboxes (ideally GTI), properly processed files (from Digitial Techs on set to final retouched assets entering the DAM for web and marketing teams to use), as well as detailed style and lighting guides (followed by all digital production teams throughout the process). You'd be surprised how many deeply entrenched successful companies don't have this internal system buttoned up and in place.

Once your system is dialed in, product color is critical, matched a few different ways. (1) Directly from merch #samples, (2) utilizing pre-approved references (this can get complicated), (3) applying merch-provided #pantone hues to match manufacturer goals.

The first, reviewing samples, is critical to the process. Seeing a reference photo or a swatch (for color or pattern) doesn’t tell the entire story. A backside color, an ombre pattern, a specific detail can be missed. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reviewed a sample and said to myself “oh, I didn’t know THAT was part of this product”.

When my team launched all digital assets for Spring 2022, I was proud of the delivery times we met facing numerous complications outside of our department, as well as the quality we had improved on. Throughout 2022, we continued to perfect that process, assisting the photo studio teams as well as the web teams to fix years-long issues. Improving workflow and bringing efficiency to our processes to maximize our post-production budget while providing consistent imagery to our merchants, as well as our #creative and #web partners was always the goal....and we delivered.

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