The content that goes behind selling a product has rapidly scaled over the past decade, with more and more features to capture user-generated content and professional footage to sell products. This trend has been styled 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 purchase1.
The path to a sale has never been easy. Buyer journeys at a brick-and-mortar store always included some amount of comparison shopping and brands tried to influence buyers by helping them visualize their product on a mannequin or styled as part of a setting, or having a sales associate available to talk to.
With eCommerce becoming all-pervasive and accelerating faster than retail these days, brands need to take over even more of that visualization in order to provide a seamless omnichannel 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 content in context to attract, influence and convert buyers on their journey. In short, heightening user engagement to drive sales.
High-quality content for product visualization
What they need is a step-up from static 2D product images. What they need is a branded visual experience, one that incorporates interactive content that is engaging as well as informational and is consistent in its messaging.
Lookbooks and digital catalogs using large, high-resolution photos and livestreaming videos that show 360° views, as well as entertaining content such as GIFs and memes, are included in this list.
Add curated user-generated content as well as shoppability layers to visual assets to create shortcuts in the sales process.
Immersive content using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) can project a homeware product into the users 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 rooms2. The more diverse your media, the higher the search engine rankings.
User-generated content provides social proof and builds trust. 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 photos and videos. Roughly a quarter of them were influenced by UGC on or used Facebook to make purchases based on UGC3. In fashion, up 9 out of 10 shoppers trust an influencer more than traditional advertisements or celebrity endorsements and this, alongside peer reviews (55%) and social media (74%) impact purchase decisions4.
There exist tools and platforms 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.
Such shoppable posts can take users directly to the payments page and avoid extra time till purchase.
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.
Product discovery through a personalized experience
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are the ever-evolving technologies that underpin the rich personalization features of visual commerce. They help brands offer ever more individualized and dynamic content, offers, and recommendations to customers based on their demographics, preferences as well as past and present behavior. Content works harder over more buying journeys.
AI-powered visual search improves product discoverability. This feature enables people to go straight to a product 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 empower buyers by offering them 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.
Gucci configurator for knitwear
Easy and seamless experience
The end goal of visual commerce is to reduce friction in the buying journey. The experience overall needs to be easy and seamless, else it will result in abandoned carts. 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 person5. 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 stay6.
For more information about BORN Group’s expertise in brand and customer experience, click here.
1. Visual Commerce 2017: How Image Recognition and Augmentation Are Changing Retail, eMarketer, https://www.emarketer.com/Report/Visual-Commerce-2017-How-Image-Recognition-Augmentation-Changing-Retail/2002059
2. IKEA’s Revamped AR App Lets You Design Entire Rooms, Wired, 20 Apr 2021, https://www.wired.com/story/ikea-revamped-ar-app-design-entire-rooms/
3. User-generated visual content can influence purchases, eMarketer, 21 Feb 2021, https://www.emarketer.com/content/user-generated-visual-content-influence-purchases
4. The State of Fashion 2018, McKinsey and the Business of Fashion, https://cdn.businessoffashion.com/reports/The_State_of_Fashion_2018_v2.pdf
5. 5 Digital Artists Reimagining The Fashion Show, Vogue UK, 23 May 2021, https://www.vogue.co.uk/fashion/article/digital-artists-reimagining-the-fashion-show
6. COVID-19 Driving Visual Commerce Accelerator for Hand-Selected Manufacturers, Manufacturing Tomorrow, 2 Jun 2020, https://www.manufacturingtomorrow.com/article/2020/05/covid-19-driving-visual-commerce-accelerator-for-hand-selected-manufacturers/15326/