The ecommerce space is getting more competitive every day, and high-quality images are key to business success. To stand out, it’s likely every image will require edits, so finding and working with a reliable clipping path company is a necessity.
Clipping paths are a straightforward but tedious task, making them perfect to hand off to someone else. Outsourcing edits to a clipping path service takes time-consuming tasks off your plate and saves you money and time in the long run. And choosing the right service provider makes the transition a lot smoother—so you can get back to business.
In this article:
- Why ecommerce companies work with a clipping path service
- Why choosing the best clipping path service is important
- How to choose the best clipping path service provider: where to look
- What to consider when vetting clipping path companies
- Moving forward with a clipping path service company
Why ecommerce companies work with a clipping path service
Along with lifestyle pictures, advertising shots, and social images, most ecommerce companies will need white background product photography. Unusually, photo-editing professionals use a clipping path to remove the background from a product image.
How does it work? A clipping path is created around the product, and then the product image can be saved as a transparent image (or placed onto a white background, for example).
In other words, a clipping path is like a cutout of an image. That cutout will likely be used for print ads, websites, and more—so it has to be good. Hence, it’s super important for ecommerce companies to work with a clipping path service that delivers high-quality work.
Why choosing the best clipping path service is important
Take the time to find the right outsourcing partner. You’ll be better off in the long run.
So what happens if you choose the wrong clipping path services? Some potential scenarios:
- Missed print deadlines
- Unhappy or even lost clients
- Wasted money
- Competitors list their products on Amazon first
Poorly edited or late images can make or break a deadline, campaign, or other important milestone. Worse, some companies are so untrustworthy they’ll reuse your photos in other ways—without permission or compensation.
How to choose the best clipping path service provider: where to look
There are tons of clipping path options available on the web. A quick Google search is a great place to start, but it can also be overwhelming. If you want to know how to choose the best clipping path company, carefully research each option that pops up.
Other places to look:
- Ask your network for recommendations. Chat with your colleagues, email your peers, or post on social media. (This might also score you free or discounted clipping paths — at Path, you can earn and redeem points in exchange for free photo edits.)
- Look locally. If you prefer to work with someone in-person, check your local networks.
- Check with local graphic designers, agencies, photographers, and universities. Check outsource service marketplaces. Sites like Fiverr and Upwork act like a clipping path marketplace of sorts, allowing freelance photo editors to publicize their services and bid on jobs. You might find good options here, but keep in mind that quality often varies and individuals don’t have the same bandwidth for volume as an agency or company.
Greg Bullock uses Fiverr to outsource photo edits for TheraSpecs. “I still do some finalizing after it comes back, but the majority of the work is done by independent contractors,” he says. “We use a few different individual contractors depending on the specific editing work required.”
- Read trusted industry publications. There are numerous round-up articles on the web that provide lists of the best resources for product photographers and ecommerce sellers. This article from Amazon SEO Consultant, for example, gives Path services their stamp of approval. (Thanks Tom!)
- Browse social media. LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook have thriving creative communities. To source clipping path services, you can use the search features, join groups, follow hashtags, or expand your network.
What to consider when vetting clipping path companies
Cost and payment
First things first: You have to make sure the services fit your budget. Path is an affordable clipping path service, for example, with prices starting at just 39¢ per image.
Remember to examine the pricing structure and what’s included with posted rates. Clipping path providers vary in how they approach pricing. They might charge more for photos that require more complex edits, have packaged service selections, or offer a discount for bulk orders.
With Path, you can buy a package of edit credits. This is great when you have recurring photo-editing needs: The more credits you purchase, the more you save.
Although you probably have a budget to stick to, you don’t want to skimp on quality. When you’re researching clipping path service providers, look for samples on their website that show proof of their work.
And if you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask. It’s important to understand what you’re getting for your money.
Here are a few things to ask about:
- How are the clipping paths drawn? If they mention anything about automation, look for another option. You want people (not computers) paying attention to every last detail in your photo. Artificial intelligence (AI) in photo editing has its place, but product photography is not it.
- What is the quality assurance (QA) process? Is someone overseeing every order to make sure it’s up to standards? This is especially important when dealing with companies who have multiple editors.
- What happens if you’re not happy with your images? Tread lightly if there’s no satisfaction guarantee.
If possible, do a free trial first. This way you can test the quality for yourself as a true clipping path client, risk-free. At Path, we offer two free image edits for free so you can see if you like working with us before you invest.
If you have flexible timelines, this isn’t a concern. But most of the time, you’re working on a deadline, and you need a clipping path service that can work with you.
Keep in mind that rushed turnaround typically comes with an additional fee. If you need a quick turnaround, it’s a good idea to find out what the rush fees are.
At Path, you can choose from a number of different turnaround times depending on your deadline and budget. You can get images back in as little as 6 hours if you need them.
Services list It makes sense to get started with simple photo edits like clipping paths and image masking, for example. But as time goes on, you might need additional types of photo edits. Your editing needs could change as your business grows.
If you’re projecting growth in the near future, consider finding a clipping path service provider that can also do things like photo retouching, ghost mannequin, and even vector conversion. If you don’t, you might find yourself using multiple providers or searching for a new editor sooner than planned.
Maximum order size
Depending on the size of your company (or the time of the year), you might have large batches of photos—think seasonal businesses or big product launches.
Your clipping path provider should be able to handle bulk orders. That’s precisely why you pay them—to complete work that you can’t.
And yes, we mean bulk orders. The biggest order we’ve ever fulfilled at Path was almost 9,000 photos. Can you challenge us to do more?
According to Statista, 88% of mid-market business leaders believe communication is a top contributor to successful outsourcing. That’s why it’s important to find out how each clipping path service company communicates with customers. If you have no way to communicate with the folks doing your clipping paths, you’re going to face an uphill battle.
Here’s a scenario: If you’re working with a clipping path service in the UK but you’re based in California, the time difference could make efficient communication difficult.
At Path, email support is available 24/7. So if you’re across the globe or working at midnight on a weekend, we’re still here to answer questions that pop up—you'll get a response in 45 minutes or less.
Unfortunately, this industry is rampant with substandard working conditions for the people actually doing the clipping paths—especially when you’re dealing with overseas companies.
That doesn’t make them all bad though. For example, we’re a clipping path service in Bangladesh. Our founder, Atiqur Sumon, grew up in a small village here and wanted to give back. Now, a UN Global Compact Partner, we employ more than 300 professional photo editors. Not to mention all the fun we have as a team :)
Our community commitment is actually one of the reasons photographer Jim Palmer chose to outsource his photo edits to Path. “Path does some really great things with helping people create careers and jobs,” says the Toysmith photographer. “I like what they're doing as a company and as an organization.”
It’s always a good idea to check out clipping path service reviews before working with anyone. Go beyond the testimonials and quotes featured on their site. You want to check third-party review sites like Trustpilot, Sitejabber, and Google reviews.
Do a Google search for “[clipping path service provider name] reviews” and see what else pops up. This could uncover niche sites with more detailed reviews to validate (or contradict) the others you’ve already found.
Moving forward with a clipping path service company
It’s important to choose the right clipping path service provider so you don’t waste the time and money that you were hoping to save by outsourcing in the first place. Find reputable options by asking within your network, on social media, and in industry publications. And consider these things when vetting your options:
- Cost and payment: Make sure it’s within your budget and they offer a payment method that works with your business.
- Quality: Do they have proof of their work?
- Turnaround time: Don’t forget to ask about rush fees.
- Services list: Find a provider that can grow with you.
- Maximum order size: If you have large batches of photos, a single individual might not be able to keep up.
- Customer support: Inaccessible support is a red flag.
- Ethics: You want to feel good about where your money’s going.
- Reviews: This is the social proof you need to make sure you’re making the right choice.