How AI is changing the game for e-commerce image editing workflows

Gabrielle Chou
Gabrielle ChouFebruary 20, 2024
How AI is changing the game for e-commerce image editing workflows

Image workflow in e-commerce has evolved dramatically with AI and Computer Vision. I've worked on this digital transformation, collaborating with iconic brands like Chanel and Hermes, retail giants such as Amazon and Walmart, and many brands and retailers aiming to optimize their image workflows without sacrificing quality.

Previously, the objective was to pioneer AI solutions that transform retailers' approach to product listing optimization, critical for e-commerce, ad creatives, and social media platforms: from Instagram to TikTok.

Now I see the shift towards technology and AI-driven solutions reshaping this space, offering enhanced high-quality images and streamlining processes at dramatically reduced operational costs.

Yet, Photoroom, especially its “Image Editing API,” represents a significant leap forward. This tool brings a new era of possibilities in e-commerce imagery, speeding up product listings, improving quality, and cutting operational costs. See how businesses off all sizes use Photoroom.

How photo workflows and operations functioned in the past

For luxury branding and retail, the ideal scenario once involved significant investments in professional photography, where photographers and studios were hired, sometimes with extensive staging and shooting periods. This approach allowed for a rich variety of settings, aiming to capture the essence of each product in detail. Post-production then involved lengthy photo retouching with complex software like Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, focusing on achieving perfect brand and image consistency and remarkable images through refined image retouching and color unification.

However, this traditional workflow faces substantial challenges today, making it increasingly impractical for two main reasons.

  1. First, even top brands often have access to products for only a brief window of time, making it difficult to have photographers and studios available simultaneously. Large volume retailers, in particular, struggle with this quality constraint, as the process becomes both time-intensive and costly, highlighting pushing against the need to optimize workflow within budgetary limits.

  2. Second, the demand for product photo imagery has surged, requiring many product photos to showcase various angles and settings, as well as formats. This need aims to provide end customers with a comprehensive view of the product's size, usage, and aesthetic appeal, catering to diverse audience preferences and significantly increasing the volume of images needed.

This evolving landscape underscores the necessity for a streamlined, efficient approach to product photography and e-commerce image editing: one that adapts to the rapid pace and high demands of today's retail environment.

When it comes to how photo workflows are evolving, there are two distinct transitions happening consecutively: a shift to efficiency with the introduction of photo editing software and APIs, followed by the introduction of AI to further optimize e-commerce image editing, product photos, and ad creatives.

How photo workflows evolved with photo editing software and APIs

With the introduction of new tools such as photo editing software and application processing interfaces (API), optimizing the photo editing workflow became more accessible for business owners and their teams. By allowing for efficiency improvements without materially increasing budgets or overhauling existing systems. Specifically, businesses integrated APIs to batch edit thousands of product images simultaneously, significantly speeding up the photo production cycle for e-commerce or social media platforms.

In addition, depending on the size of the business and the volume of assets, they use digital asset management or product information management software to centralize and manage their images. Ensuring quick access for stakeholders and facilitating a smoother editing workflow. Some businesses incorporate specialized product photography software like CaptureOne which centralizes and automate editing, formatting, and digital asset management, significantly improving workflow efficiency. In addition, studio automation and photography robots such as Ortery or Orbitvu have not yet yielded material improvements. Finally, adopting constant lighting helps to streamline the editing process and reduce the need for post-production adjustments.

These advancements, while enhancing speed and efficiency, also introduce challenges around the ability to scale and the complexity of integrating new technologies, especially for brands with diverse and extensive product lines. Yet, they represent a significant leap toward more agile and cost-effective photo editing workflows.

How AI is reshaping photo workflows

This brings us to the next transition, which involves introducing AI-powered solutions like Photoroom, and alternatives like, replacing the high cost of studio technologies, and the repetitive tasks required for photo editing teams. The new AI photo editing services and technology streamline the process of handling images from varied sources, qualities, and more importantly, across different categories. Such technology can intelligently apply consistent background removal, and advanced photo manipulation such as centering, sizing adjustments, AI background generation, lighting and shadow corrections. Another advantage is that it tailors the format output to meet the specific requirements for online retail or e-commerce channels, digital ads, and social marketing platforms. These 'smart' AI-powered APIs dynamically adapt the photo editing or retouching based on the image's intended retail or social media/digital channel, further refined by product category. They are real game changers.

The benefits of integrating AI and API technologies into the workflow include:

  • Reducing time-to-market: The time from capturing the image to listing the product online is significantly reduced, enhancing the pace at which products can be marketed and sold. Learn how Selency reduced its product listing from days to seconds with Photoroom's API.

  • Adding visual consistency: It ensures a uniform quality across all product images, maintaining a consistent brand image and customer experience, yet taking into account the different needs of different product categories. For example, we have photos from different sources and can standardize them by removing the background, centering, and adding margins and AI shadows.

    Original images

    AI-photo edited images (background removed, centered, AI shadow, and uniform margin/padding added)

  • Driving efficiency: This approach allows for the efficient management of large volumes of images, effectively scaling without necessitating an increase in resources.

  • Decreasing operational costs: By reducing the reliance on extensive manual editing, it lowers the overall costs associated with product photography.

  • Easy-to-implement technology: implementing these solutions can take as little as one hour, even for technology-constrained organizations and brands. Learn more about if you should build or buy an image API solution.

For CTOs and Operations executives in the online retail, e-commerce, and luxury sectors, embracing these AI photo editing APIs Image technological advancements is not just a strategic move—it's a necessity for staying competitive in a digital-first and social marketplace. The transition towards more agile, technology-driven image workflows using AI represents a leap forward in how we think about product photography, product photo retouching, and other adjacent operations, offering a blueprint for efficiency, scalability, and innovation.

Related articles:

Gabrielle Chou
Gabrielle ChouI am a former AI and Computer Vision entrepreneur, with a couple of exits to NASDAQ-listed companies, and now an adviser at Photoroom.

Keep reading

How does an API for image editing work?
Sen Thackeray
Upgrade your product listing operations with AI generated backgrounds and shadows
Udo Kaja
Personalize product imagery at scale [Video tutorial]
Vincent Pradeilles
Top 4 tips to create viral campaigns with AI
Vanessa Hojda
How to process hundreds of product images using the Photoroom API
Vincent Pradeilles
How to create a viral social media campaign with the Photoroom API
Vincent Pradeilles
Top 5 AI photo editor APIs
Sen Thackeray
How to build internal employee engagement with Artificial Intelligence
Daphne Renelus
How to easily create images for Google Shopping using the Photoroom API
Vincent Pradeilles
4 ways to achieve business success with photo editing APIs
Udo Kaja