Before you purchase something you want to be able to see it. Even better would be if you can hold it in your hands and examine it. Internet shopping, unfortunately, does not allow for the latter but at the very least a product should be visible on a commercial website, right?
The answer is not so transparent and can be more opaque than desired.
Big e-retailers have the resources and personnel to retrieve images for their massive inventory. Smaller businesses, well, not so much. But it is more than that. A small company that sells a comparatively small inventory of popular items will more than likely be able to find images for their products.
What do you get when you have a massive inventory but with a significant portion geared toward a niche market? Answer: SkyGeek’s product image dilemma.
The aviation industry is a market for a variety of products, some well known and others obscure. Owning and maintaining a plane will inevitably have you searching for not just shop supplies but also specialized parts and assemblages. So for every can of Plexus and case of AeroShell Aircraft Engine Oil, there are items that may never have a web presence—at least not in image form.
We’re trying to change that.
As hard as it is to believe, not every manufacturer has images of their catalog on their own site or for public use. Many times SkyGeek will contact the manufacturer and ask for an image; seldom does this tactic work. If we receive a reply at all (which is rare) a representative will simply state they do not give out images. If they actually provide an explanation for not sending an image, it is usually due to some legal constraint, i.e. proprietary reasons and all of that.
Trust us, it’s equally as frustrating for SkyGeek as it is for our customers.
To make matters worse, search engines are not too thrilled in seeing a place-holder photo that contains the ambiguous message “Image Coming Soon” (See Figure 1). We can just hear the people screaming, “HOW SOON!”
In an attempt to appease the Google-gods we found stock photos of items and placed brand logos on them. Take, for example, the Henkel Alodine 600 Conversion Coating 55 Gallon Drum (See Figure 2). We could not find an image of a 55-gallon drum so we found a generic drum of that size and placed a Henkel logo on it. This is until we can create or capture an actual image of the item. Again, this is not our final solution, but rather a step in the right direction.
The above Henkel example also hints at another reason for not having images of every item.
Not many know that while we have inventory in our 60+ acre warehouse, that is not the only warehouse our items draw from. Warehouses across the country from our suppliers dropship the items, meaning these items are stored in these other warehouses and don’t even come through our own when shipped to the customer. And even if items did make a stop at our facilities, we cannot open the package and take a photo because then the item(s) would not be considered “new.” So you can see the problem we constantly face when it comes to grabbing images.
Sometimes we find an alternative. The next best thing comes in the form of an illustration or diagram of the product. This is often the case with hardware. For instance, the illustration of the Military Standard MS20002-4 Steel Washers offers a clue to their size and dimensions (See Figure 3).
As for the fate of many specialized parts we sell and whether or not they will ever be seen in all their glory, that is yet to be determined. Perhaps our biggest product line that remains faceless is that from Piper. Anyone that has tried knows Piper’s website does not offer an image for each of its countless parts. We sell literally thousands of them and have yet to find a method of acquiring good pictures to transfer to our customers. The best we are currently able to do is search for parts catalogs or have customers refer to them if they already have one.
If you have any suggestions as to securing reliable and non-copyrighted images of products, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below.