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Datapak Services- Now Primed for ISO Certifications

During the first week of July 2016, a dedicated team of employees from Datapak began a seminar with delegates from the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center. This seminar, which spanned a total of 80 hours led to Datapak receiving certificates of compliance for ISO 9001:2016 and ISO 13485:2016. These levels of compliance place Datapak within reach of ISO certification.

While some may read the information above and nod their head with approval, others may just see letters and random numbers. For anyone unfamiliar, the acronym ISO stands for the mouthful “International Organization of Standardization,” and according to ISO’s website:

“(ISO) brings together experts to share knowledge and develop voluntary consensus-based, market relevant International Standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges.”

So why does ISO matter? ISO matter? Simply put, international standards are what keep almost everything in our world consistent, reliable and above all, safe. Again, ISO states:

“(international standards) give world-class specifications for products, services and systems to ensure quality, safety and efficiency.”

 ISO will argue that when things don’t work as they should, it often means that standards are absent.

If you are sitting at a desk with a computer, take a second to look at your keyboard. If you have become comfortable with its layout, design and functionality, then you can thank the ISO standard 9995, which “defines a framework for the layout of all alphanumeric and numeric keyboards.”

If you have enjoyed milk at any point in your life, then you can thank the ISO standard 6785, which “specifies a method for the detection of Salmonella in milk and milk products.”

To shed light on Datapak’s decision to pursue ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 certifications, Client Service representative Dave Buck responded-

“The initial reason Datapak began working towards ISO certification  was due to a client, MC10. This client is currently working towards the goal of having their product become a registered medical device. In order for any business  to take part of the design, manufacturing or distribution of a registered medical device, they must be ISO 13485 certified. This certification specifies requirements for a quality management system regarding medical devices.”

Regarding ISO 9001 certification, which specifies requirements for a quality management system, Buck stated-

“It was only logical for Datapak to also pursue ISO 9001 certification in addition to ISO 13485. With the 9001 certification, we will bring proof to any current or future client our ability to provide services which meet industry regulatory requirements.”

Datapak’s next steps towards the ultimate goal of ISO 9001 and 13485 certifications are to continue creating internal ISO management systems. Buck stresses the importance of robust documentation regarding all steps leading up to the eventual hiring of a 3rd party ISO auditor. These data trails will provide proof that Datapak has and will continue to uphold all ISO standards.

Datapak has set an internal goal of July 2017 to become ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 certified.

Outsourcing your Customer Service Part Two: What Are You Waiting For?

Let’s say you’ve done your research and identified a handful of businesses which could effectively handle your customer service. This research likely also came paired with articles online which spell out what to look for when outsourcing and what your expectations could be. As a result of this research, you may have also held internal discussions with your employees to gather opinions and concerns that resonate with your business. You may have already accepted that outsourcing your customer service is the most logical next-step for your business, yet you still feel reluctant to move ahead.

We want you to know that this is normal, and that Datapak’s own Monica Clark has something to say about it. If you recall from our previous post, Monica Clark is Datapak’s Customer Service Manager. Her experiences, which span more than 30 years, include working with AT&T, Time Warner and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Clark is also HIPPA certified. HIPAA certification, which stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability, means that Clark is able to teach to industry standards regarding the handling of highly protected personal information.

Again, we posed a question to Clark-

You’ve had many years experience working in both in-house and outsourced customer service roles. What, if any, are the initial fears or hesitations that businesses have with outsourcing their customer service? What do you say to try and ease any of these worries?

I think the biggest fears that many businesses have are as follows:

  1. The customer service will simply not be handled properly
  2. The accountable staff will not be properly trained
  3. And perhaps the biggest fear- the customer will realize that they are not speaking with the actual company.

And although this is a specific example, another issue arises when the customer service is handled overseas. If this is the case, then a business owner may rightfully fear that their customer may dislike having to deal with a language barrier.

What I say to business owner is this- You must be willing to rely on the strength, knowledge and professionalism of the company who will handle your outsourcing. Listen closely to the diction of those you speak with. Although it may seem obvious to read this now, if they are not well spoken, their staff probably won’t be either.

It is advised to ask any potential outsourcer about not only their specific training procedures, but also how their agents will be trained to best represent your business. You should expect to hear that you or a representative from your business will play a role in building any specific training modules.

The above can not only ease the second fear listed, but also the third. The right outsourcer will stop at nothing short of having their agents give the impression of sitting at your company headquarters. Again, this is achieved through proper training on their behalf and with direct input from your business.

In short, perception becomes not only the business’s reality, but more importantly the customer’s.

We’d like to think that Clark’s last sentence above can be usefully applied to not only this topic, but to many elements of your business.

Want to know learn more about Datapak’s customer service capabilities? All you need to do is Contact Us

Outsourcing Your Customer Service

Why does the term “customer service” evoke such an uneasy feeling? After all, the field of customer service carries out one of the most effective ways for potential and recurring customers to directly communicate with your business. However, if you have experience in a customer service role, then you know that most people’s reasoning for contacting you isn’t usually to give accolades.

A clay tablet currently housed in the British Museum contains what is believed to be the first documented customer complaint. Dated 1750 BC from Babylonia, this tablet conveys a man’s disappointment regarding the quality of purchased copper ingots.

Fascinating, huh?

Jump ahead about 3770 years to today and businesses are still fielding customer complaints with regularity. This is not a criticism towards businesses, because customer complaints—whether they are due to elements within your control or not—are inevitable. And while anyone who is filling in for customer service duty may not be directly fielding phone calls, tasks such as answering emails and responding to social media concerns are now on your plate.

If the scenarios above sound familiar, then outsourcing customer service has likely become a recurring thought. But how can you know when the time is right? For a professional opinion on all things customer service, we can turn to Datapak’s own Monica Clark. Among Clark’s responsibilities as Customer Service Manager is the oversight and training of her team as the first point of contact for several of Datapak’s clients.

We asked Clark: “At what point in a business’s life should outsourcing customer service be considered?” and, “What should a business look for when outsourcing?”

Any business that is drowning in calls, emails, chat or other ways of servicing customers should have already looked into outsourcing. This also holds true for companies that are either growing too fast and are in danger of tarnishing their reputation, or companies with a bad reputation which they are trying to overcome.

One needs to be extremely selective when approaching and using outsourcers. It is always best to use someone who is closely matched with your company’s morals and values and that can identify with your mission statement. Obviously, experience is important as well. When lacking experience, an outsourcer can do more harm than good.

One of the most important things to consider when selecting an outsourcer is their training system. It is crucial to choose an outsourcer with great training practices. These trainers must be experienced, capable of learning a variety of information, and have the ability to teach everything they learn.

One of the end goals here is that if the company providing the service is on point, then outsourcing should be seamless and your customers unaware of any transitional period.

Check back for upcoming posts in which we’ll explore other topics regarding call centers and customer service.

 

Learn more about our Customer Care solutions.

Building Your Email List & Email Marketing Best Practices

This much we know: email marketing serves as an essential next-step for any business looking to grow into a brand with a consistent and dependable image.

This much is fact: gaining subscribers for your email list isn’t something that just magically happens.

So, how does a business go from having subscribers which consists mostly of internal employees and family members to having a robust and organically built mailing list? You may be surprised to learn that building a robust list involves fairly straightforward tactics that any business can utilize.

Make Your Audience Want to Sign Up

Next time you visit a website, whether it is ecommerce, news based or a static business page, take note if there is an email subscription opt-in field, and where on the site it is located. Also take note if you feel at all compelled to share your email. We’re willing to bet that unless you already have a connection with a business or brand, you won’t feel compelled to share your email. It’s important to realize that the majority of visitors to your site will likely feel the same. Therefore, the question now becomes, how do you make a visitor want to share their email address?

Ecommerce Site:

One tactic commonly used by ecommerce sites is to offer potential subscribers an incentive- most often a discount on future orders. So how can your website effectively communicate something along the lines of, “Subscribe to our mailing list and get 10% off your next order”? Easy, just say it with a banner or homepage slider.

Email marketing services such as MailChimp will allow you to create a signup form, that while identical to any other used on your site, will auto-reply to a subscriber with a custom message. This custom message can be an email which welcomes a new subscriber and presents them with their promised promo code. You can link any banner or slider to this specific signup field.

You may be concerned with customers using an introductory promo code more than once. We cannot speak on the behalf of all ecommerce platforms, but platforms such as Shopify and BigCommerce can allow you to limit a customer’s use of a promo code to just one. This is done by identifying their checkout information or IP address.

Additionally, for any visitor who eventually becomes a customer, you can offer an option to subscribe to your mailing list during the checkout process.

Static and Standard Business Site:

If you’re looking to build a mailing list for information based or static website, then you’re faced with a slightly greater challenge. We recommend a tactic similar to that above- that being the use of a banner or homepage slider which calls for action. However, because you’re not in the business of selling a product online, then an incentive such as a promo code has no use. Instead, you must be willing to develop a freebie or a takeaway.

If your site happens to run a blog, then curating that content into an eBook as a digital download can serve as an appealing incentive. Likewise, if you have a collection of whitepapers or case studies which you are willing to share, curating an eBook can not only serve as an incentive, but also help your business become an authority.

Frequency:

The frequency in which you send your marketing emails will have an effect on engagement as well your overall brand image. No business wants to appear to come off as pestering, and likewise, neither do they want their subscribers to forget about them. According to data collected from Campaign Monitor (read more here), the optimal frequency rate at which to send emails is either on a weekly or monthly basis. We agree and would suggest that ecommerce based business follow a weekly (or bi-weekly) sending schedule, while news based or static business follow a monthly schedule.

Above all, we would like to point out that frequency falls second to consistency. It is crucial for your email marketing efforts to follow a strict schedule. If you decide to send emails at 11AM on Tuesdays, then always send at 11AM on Tuesdays.

 

We truly feel that email marketing is essential for any business. Want to know what other marketing tactics we feel are essential? All you need to do is contact us. Let’s Talk.

What to Know About Email Marketing

 

Questions: When does a business develop into something more than just a means of making money? When does it become a brand with an identity that consumers can form a relationship with?

Answer: We don’t exactly know, but it’s not something that happens overnight. Instead, if you ask us how a business can develop a brand identity… Well, we’ve helped enough of our clients reach that point for us to confidently share a few insights with you.

One of the quickest ways to evolve your business into a brand is by gaining consistent recognition from your target market.  This recognition can be achieved via advertising, marketing or public relations efforts. The issue that smaller businesses face with implementing any of the above is that these tactics usually cost money. However, there are some free options available. One we can focus on now—email marketing

Even if you’re not familiar with it, don’t let the term “marketing” discourage you. At its most basic level, email marketing is any form of email communication from a business to any individual or other business. Before we go any further, we strongly suggest reviewing the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 which dictates standards for the sending of commercial emails (click here to read more).  Yes, we are aware of just how dry of a read this will be. We are also aware that your chances of actually violating any of these regulations are minimal. Regardless, taking the 10 minutes to read over the link provided will help guide you towards best practices.

With that aside, email marketing is one of the best ways to build brand recognition and drive sales for any up-and-coming business. What more is that depending on the size of your email list and the marketing provider you use, this can even be done for free.

Before we dig into just how to implement email marketing for your business, let’s start with a point of reference. The image below can serve as a template for what email marketing messages generally look like. You’ve undoubtedly seen at least a few emails with a similar layout delivered to your inbox.

 

Now that you have something to reference, we can discuss the benefits of implementing email marketing as a routine function of your business.

If you read over the CAN-SPAM link, you would know that you are only legally allowed to solicit to individuals or businesses who actively and willingly subscribed to your email list. This gives you a leg up on marketing efforts. Why? Because the audience you are reaching already expressed interest in your product or business. Therefore, any information within your actual email message has a potentially high conversion rate.

Before we dive in any further, allow us to be completely honest- we love MailChimp. Of all the email marketing providers available, MailChimp is undoubtedly the most popular, and for good reason. We love the clean interface, template builder and list management capabilities. So keep that in mind as we reference, well, just about everything going forward.

To get things started, you first need a way for someone to become a subscriber. The easiest way to do this is by creating a signup field (or page) through your email marketing provider that can then be linked to your website. Most prebuilt website platforms, such as WordPress, Shopify or BigCommerce will work seamlessly with your email marketing provider instantly implement this signup form on your site. This form will be automatically synced to any managed subscriber list. If you happen to have a custom built website, then most email marketing providers (MailChimp certainly does) will generate the code necessary to be plugged into your HTML.

What this means is that anyone who uses this form to subscribe can be added to any list you create. You can edit and curate lists however you see fit- perhaps you would like to create separate lists of past customers, potential customers or business entities. You can then create and deliver emails which target these specific lists. Congratulations, you now know the basics of email marketing.

Our next installment on this topic will cover ways to organically build your email list and best practices for your email marketing efforts. To subscribe to Datapak’s email list, well, simply sign up in the form below.

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What to Expect when Outsourcing Fulfillment

This is your problem: days and nights spend packing and shipping order out of a garage or small warehouse- all on your business’s own time. The solution? Outsourcing fulfillment. However, if arriving at this solution were effortless, they you probably wouldn’t be reading this. Deciding on whether or not to outsource fulfillment requires deliberation and will ultimately impact many aspects of your operations. We feel that almost all businesses could benefit from doing so. Follow along below to learn about just a few benefits of outsourcing your fulfillment.

Potentially Better Shipping Rates

The function of your business’s in-house fulfillment operation was to… ship product, right? While it may seem too obvious, the function of any future, outsourced partner is the exact same. The difference between you and them: scale. Not only would your fulfillment partner like to ship as many of your products out the door as they can, but as many products in their facility as possible—all at the cheapest shipping rate achievable. While these shipping costs will ultimately be covered by you or your customers, any worthwhile fulfillment partner will constantly be working to get their clients the most efficient rates manageable. This is why fulfillment houses generally have partnerships with multiple shipping companies. For example, carrier X may be able to move high volumes to consumers for a great rate, but carrier Y offers better deals for large, bulk orders meant for retail. Most fulfillment houses will have at least one employee whose job is to identify and assign the right carrier to the right client and their products. These efforts will ideally lead to cheaper rates, thus, saving you money. These savings can eventually get passed along to your customers, which in turn, save them money and possibly give your product a more competitive advantage in the market.

While international shipping may be a topic deserving of its own post, the right fulfillment partner will guide you if and when you make the decision to ship international.

Order Management

In addition to just fulfillment, the right fulfillment house will also offer order management (solutions) for your business. For anyone unaware, the right order management services can offer robust insight into your business’s performance, including:

  • Inventory levels
  • Buying patterns
  • Returns
  • Customer retention
  • Comparative performance

These are just a sampling of the possible insights from the right order management system.  This can allow your business to make strategic improvements to several areas of your operations and ultimately impact future decisions.

Check out Datapak’s order management solutions

Customized Solutions and Technology

The right fulfillment house will have been in business long enough to offer customized solutions for your business and its products. These can be physical solutions for warehousing, including lighting, temperature and climate control if applicable. These solutions can also come digitally with customized programs to dictate potential continuity services, auto-ship or recurring payments.

And perhaps the biggest advantage of outsourcing your fulfillment is that when your partner updates their technology, then so do you.

Fulfillment House Location – A Case for Michigan

Who knows your business best? You do. That’s why you’re in the know with every step your enterprise makes. If it involves design, development, budgeting, consumer outreach or anything in between, it begins and ends with you. If your business happens to run an ecommerce operation, it’s not a matter of if in-house fulfillment becomes a full-time job, but when. Whether your business has arrived at that point or not, finding a partner to manage fulfillment is crucial.

There are many qualities which can make one fulfillment center more appealing than another: FDA certifications, a climate controlled environment or even something as simple as sheer size. These specific features can add to the total package of a fulfillment operation, but there is still one factor that a business looking to cover a nation-wide market needs to address—location.

The map below illustrates population density across America within the current decade. It shouldn’t take long to notice that there is a remarkable drop in population about halfway between coasts.

(Image courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau)

With logistics in mind, it also shouldn’t take long to conclude that an ideal fulfillment center should be based halfway between this population divide and the east coast. However, the issue of latitude now comes in to play.

For an ideal fulfillment center location, does it make sense to try and split this map in half again, this time from north to south? As we will soon argue no. Reference again the map below.

The point is to now illustrate that on a linear scale, fulfillment houses located within the northern half of this map closely intersect more densely populated regions. Even though shipping doesn’t work on an exactly linear scale, being within such close proximity gives a definite advantage to fulfillment centers located at or near the top line. This leads us to argue that perhaps the ideal location to quickly and easily reach some of the largest consumer markets, those being Chicago, Metro Detroit, Central Ohio, New York and the lower New England states, is in fact, Michigan.

Centralized fulfillment location = closer proximity to customers

Closer proximity to consumers = faster shipping and better rates. It’s that simple.

You may be asking if our argument is biased. Well, maybe. However, we consistently hear from our clients that the location of our operation directly impacts how quickly their customers receive a product.  Regardless, it doesn’t change the fact that Michigan is centrally located to many of the largest consumer markets in North America.

To roundup this post, all we ask is for you to see how our line of fulfillment services can best benefit your business, regardless of where your markets may lie.

Copywriting- Three Quick Tips Towards Developing Best Practices

In last week’s post, we discusses a logical approach towards your product photography. This visual representation of your merchandise is perhaps the driving force in moving visitors from product category pages to product detail pages. In order to get these visitors to become customers, though, you might need more than just solid photography. Applying basic copywriting practices can help paint the full picture of not only your merchandise, but also your brand. Utilize any or all of the following tips to help you get started.

Start With the Title

The first thing your customer notices while navigating a product category page (PCP) are hero images. The next thing? Product titles. Because this is your store and these are your products, you know almost everything about them. Assuming the same for your visitors is unwise. Take a look at the image below, which shows two versions of the same product as it would appear on a PCP. (This product is featured on one of Datapak’s client’s ecommerce store- The Pure Michigan Store.)

Both versions essentially do their job, which is to tell a visitor that they are in fact looking at a cutting board. However, including one or two additional details in the title, such as materials, color or brand can help a product appear less static and ultimately as something more than just an image on a website. Bonus tip: This practice can help with your site’s SEO value.

Appeal to Senses

A featured image will let a visitor see what your product looks like, but what can your description do? Noting dimensions and weight will automatically let your visitor imagine themselves holding it in their hands or seeing it in their home. Mentioning materials, construction or special ingredients will appeal to their sense of touch, smell and taste. When a visitor is able to do more than just see a product, you’re one step closer towards making a sale.

Appeal to Action

While giving your visitor the ability to virtually examine your product will help in conversion, painting a picture on how to interact with it will help that much more.

If you’re selling a board game, don’t just say that they can have fun while playing it, describe to them a rowdy evening with friends and family. If you’re selling headphones, don’t just say that they sound good, let the visitor know that they will unveil new, subtle nuances to songs they’ve heard many times before.

We’re not asking for you to discover your inner author, but taking a few extra moments to develop stronger copywriting will only help your online store.

Developing Standards for your Product Photography

When it comes to product photography, it doesn’t matter if you use a cell phone, a 10 year old Canon Rebel (yes, we have one of those) or the newest professional level DSLR. You could manage to take the most detailed photo possible, but, if it doesn’t fit the standards of your online store, then your efforts are mostly lost causes. One of the most important of these standards refers to the background of all product photography on your online store.

The good news is that if you have access to photo editing software such as Photoshop, then implementing this standard can become second nature. Follow along with the steps below and feel free to leave any questions or comments.

This process will use Photoshop, which is our choice for photo editing software. Currently, you can subscribe to use Photoshop via Adobe’s Creative Cloud service for $20/ month. We truly feel this cost to be 100% worthwhile. Even novice users can utilize Photoshop to get the most of their product photography. This example will be using a product featured on one our client’s e-commerce stores. The end goal is to completely remove the current background and replace it with solid white.

 

As you can notice, the background of our photo does not have a consistent color or tone. Let’s get that taken care of.

 

Go ahead and locate the Quick Selection Tool, as indicated by the red arrow, or press on your keyboard. The location of your Quick Selection Tool may vary, or it may not even be on your toolbar. If such is the case, then navigate to Edit -> Toolbar to configure your toolbar however you like.

 

Set the tool’s diameter appropriate to your photo (highlighted below with an orange circle) and simply click and drag over your product . You will see a dotted line (referred to as marching ants) attach to certain elements of your photo- most usually edges or instances of sharp contrast in colors, levels of brightness or patterns.

You can continue to click and drag your marching ants until you have fully captured your product. If your marching ants have expanded beyond where you want them, then simply hold ALT (PC) or Command (Mac) and click/drag to push your marching ant border inward.

 

Next, click the Select and Mask option (highlighted below in orange). This will open a sub-menu which allows for you to smooth and feather (soften) edges, or shift edges inward/outward.

Note: The green circle in the upper right of the second photo below highlights a drop down menu which allows for previewing your image over a handful of backgrounds. This example uses a solid white.

 

After you have edited your selection, click OK (located at the bottom of the sub-menu) to be brought back to your previous screen. Your marching ants will now be positioned to reflect any edits you have made.

Press Control/ Command C, then Control/ Command V to copy and paste your selection onto a new layer. Hide your original layer by clicking the eyeball next to it (red circle), and proceed with any further editing of your photo: cropping, rotating, spot color correction or superimposing.

 

Navigate to File -> Export -> Save for Web (Legacy). This will allow you to resize your image to a smaller file size suited for web use. Save as a JPEG (this will give you a white background) to your desired location, and that’s it. Below is our final image.

 

Additional Tip: Implement a size or ratio standard for which all of your product images are saved. This step will go far in ensuring your store to not have any inconsistencies in the overall presentation of your products.

How to Get the Most Out of Your E-Commerce Store

For any individual or business that has just launched their first online store, a congratulations is in order. You just took the first step towards exposing your brand to a potentially global audience.

The first look at the backend of your store, with tabs for inventory, customer information and analytics may look daunting, especially if there’s nothing there yet. The truth for any new user is that it will look daunting. So, with 15+ years of experience with e-commerce platforms, Datapak would like to share a few tips to help you get the most out of your new store.

Documentation is Your Friend

For some, the following advice will be obvious. For others, it may become a force of habit. Wherever you may fall, the documentation available for your platform can help with obvious answers to simple problems, or tips for digesting complex backend data. This guidance will be presented as either a formally authored document by the platform themselves, or as a straightforward, forum style question/ answer discussion.

Take note of dates for whichever documentation you reference. While some articles or discussions will immediately tell you if the topic is outdated or refers to a previous build (while usually linking you to more relevant info), not all of them do.

Visual Editing: Get a Logo Up There

If you decide to preview what your store looks like, you’ll probably feel underwhelmed. What you’ll see is a general blueprint of whichever theme you chose, and it’s probably filled with empty grey and white boxes. If this happens to bother you—don’t worry, it’s normal. Your store will only look better from here on out.

All prebuilt platforms will have a type of visual composer. These will allow for you to make edits to your store’s look and feel without having to do any bit of coding. The name of this visual composition tool will vary depending on which platform you’re using, but they will all share similar functions. All you need to do is navigate to whichever theme you have preinstalled and locate the “Customize/ Edit Theme” option. This will bring up a new window or tab with your store occupying about two thirds of your screen. The remaining space will house an editing menu.

This menu will show all of the individual elements that make up your store, such as a header banner image, product grid or a gallery slider image. The way this menu is organized will directly mirror the layout of whichever page you are currently editing. This is illustrated in the example image below.

If you do find yourself feeling underwhelmed with how barren your storefront may look, then the simple task of adding your business’s logo to your header may help ease your worries. Most visual editors allow for this by following a course of action similar to that below.

Here’s another tip:

Take note of the icon highlighted in the lower left-hand corner of the first image. (Other platforms will generally have this functionality located towards the bottom your screen). Clicking on this icon will let you preview your store as if it were on a mobile device. This is important because although you are likely developing your store on a desktop, a majority of your site’s visitors will be seeing your site on mobile. Switching between desktop and mobile view will show if any of your store’s elements fail to render properly. Adjusting these errors in advance can prevent visitors from becoming annoyed with inconsistencies on your site.

Note: These example images feature the Shopify platform. You can read more about Shopify here in part two of our “Which E-Commerce Platform Should I Choose?” posts.

Consistency

Once you’re ready to start populating your store with content, take a preventative measure and check that all similar “items” (products, banner images/ sliders, icons etc.) are the same resolution or ratio. Doing so will ensure consistency across all of your web pages. Simply put, this can prevent your storefront from looking unorganized and unprofessional.

In addition to image size, the background on which your products are presented plays a big part in the overall appearance of your store. At the very least, define a standard background that will be used for all product photography. A common way to approach your product presentation can be accomplished on any standard photo editing software. This simply requires you to crop your product out of your original photo and paste it onto a blank, white background.

Check back next week for a tutorial on developing and implementing a standard background for your product photograph.