Digital Content Series: Enabling Buying Decisions through Visual Commerce
The digital content that goes behind selling a product has rapidly evolved over the past decade, with advanced user-generated content and professional footage to sell products. This trend has been termed Visual Commerce and is a key part of the buyer’s journey – approximately 75% of internet users search for visual content before carrying out a purchase.
The path to a conversion has never been easy. Customer journeys at a physical store always included some comparison shopping and brands tried to influence buyers by visualizing their product in some setting, or having a sales associate available to talk to.
With eCommerce becoming all-pervasive, brands need to take over even more of that visualization in order to provide a seamless omni-channel experience – that is, to persuade a buyer to make an informed purchase decision without being able to touch and feel it.
Visual commerce is about using compelling digital content in context to attract, influence and convert buyers on their journey. In short, increasing user engagement to drive sales.
Product Visualization via High-Definition Content
What customers need is an alternative to static 2D product images. What they need is a visual experience, one that incorporates real time interaction that is engaging as well as informational and is consistent in its messaging.
Lookbooks and Shoppable Images using large, high-resolution photos adding a layer of shopability to create shortcuts in the sales process, as well as entertaining content such as GIFs and memes, are included in this list.
Live streaming videos that show 360° views of the products give an added edge in the shopping journey.
Incorporating Immersive content using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) can project a homeware product into the user's home or help buyers visualize an accessory as part of a look in 3D. IKEA’s AR app goes as far as helping the buyer design entire rooms. The more diverse your media, the higher the search engine rankings.
Building Trust & Credibility with User-Generated Content
According to a Bazaarvoice survey in December 2020, nearly two-thirds (62%) of consumers from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the UK, and the US said they were more likely to buy a product if they were able to view customer uploaded photos and videos. Roughly a quarter of them were influenced by UGC on or used Facebook to make purchases based on UGC.
There exist tools and technologies that allow you to
aggregate posts from your users on multiple social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest
curate the best content for your site
tag your products on their posts
display them as galleries or besides specific products, and
study the analytics of user engagement.
Besides providing fresh and eye-catching imagery at low cost, using UGC and reviews also is a badge of authenticity, develops customer loyalty and builds trust. Would-be buyers can also see the context and the lifestyle in which the products are being used.
Personalized Product Discovery
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are the drivers that underpin the rich personalization features of visual commerce. They help brands offer targeted and dynamic content, offers, and recommendations to customers based on various aspects such as their demographics, preferences as well as past and present behavior.
AI-powered visual search improves product discoverability. This feature enables people to locate products using pictures clicked on their mobile devices, thereby increasing engagement, conversion rates and consequently, customer lifetime value. ASOS is a good example of an eCommerce website that does this well.
Visual configurators can also give a 360° view of the product and empowers buyers with options to change or personalize details. Allow them to point to a part of the product or use icons rather than use naming conventions that they may be unfamiliar with. Allow them to save and start over.
Experience Led Shopping
The ultimate goal of visual commerce is to eliminate friction in the buying journey. The overall experience needs to be intuitive and seamless, else it will result in cart abandons. IKEA users, for example, don’t love that they have to open up the IKEA website or app, besides the AR app, to complete the purchase. Amazon, on its part, had a consumer camera called the Echo Look, which enabled users to take videos and selfies, before folding its functionality into the Amazon shopping app.
Visual Commerce for a Digital World
Fashion shows are being reimagined as heightened visual experiences for a digital tomorrow, to market to buyers who are not there in person. Even in B2B industries such as manufacturing, the lack of trade shows and exhibitions have given a push to visual commerce, showing that visual commerce is here to stay.
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