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Unique shopping experiences were once considered only for brick-and-mortar stores, but expectations have changed. Consumers now want a seamless shopping experience that mirrors the in-store experience as much as possible, especially when it comes to purchasing products.
According to the Square Future of Commerce report, 58% of consumers said they’re interested in trying newer digital methods of shopping, with 22% interested in virtual reality that allows them to experience products in a virtual shop. So, it’s no surprise that online retailers are now bringing products to life using engaging 3D visuals and interactive technology that allows buyers to experience products and services in new, exciting ways.
If you’re considering visual commerce strategies for your business, here’s all you need to know to deliver a superior shopping experience.
What is visual commerce?
Visual commerce is an eCommerce marketing strategy where companies use captivating visual content and augmented reality to attract customers and enhance their shopping experience. It involves using technology to revamp regular product images that are typically available in online stores, for example, using lifestyle photos that showcase your product in a more realistic way or using 360-degree visuals of a product so customers can visualize it from all angles.
Types of visual commerce
Visual commerce is broad since there are many ways a brand can help customers learn about and explore their products through images, videos, and augmented or virtual reality. Here are some of the most common forms of visual commerce.
Visual configuration allows customers to customize their own products using 2D and 3D visualizations so they can get a visual idea of a product before they purchase. For example, a cake shop may use visual configuration that enables customers to create unique cake designs to complete their orders. An example is Carlo’s Bakery Custom Cake Builder, where customers can choose a cake type, base color, dots, bow colors, and inscriptions. The site displays a mockup of their cake choice before the customer confirms the order and finalizes the purchase.
3D product photography
3D product photography involves using virtual photography software to generate realistic product photos without investing in an actual photoshoot. Images are generated from product design files, then customized or reconfigured to suit specific use cases. With 3D product photography, customers can see all angles of a product to better understand the item and its features before they buy.
Configurable augmented reality
This type of visual commerce involves creating virtual 3D versions of a product or service so customers can preview it in their preferred environments before purchase. For example, customers can virtually try on Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses to see how the glasses look on their faces. A study commissioned by Snap and Publicis Media revealed that 80% of consumers said they feel more confident about buying a product if they get to experience it and test it out with augmented reality.
User-generated content (UGC) is any form of original brand-specific content created by customers and posted on online platforms at no cost to the business. Including UGC in product pages can help to build trust, establish social proof, and boost conversions. According to research by Stackla, 79% of consumers say user-generated content has a high impact on their purchasing decisions.
Through your online store, your customers can upload product videos or photos as part of their product review. On social media, a smart way to leverage user-generated content is to repost it as shoppable content. For example, you can add product tags to user-generated posts on Instagram so interested buyers can click through and go directly to the product page.
Benefits of visual commerce
- Improved customer experience: Visual commerce makes it easier to deliver an online shopping experience that mirrors the in-store experience. By using augmented reality tools, customers can engage with products in-store from the comfort of their homes.
- Increased sales: The easier it is for customers to visualize the benefits of a product or service in their lives, the more likely they are to buy. According to Annex Cloud, visual commerce can boost conversion rates by 5% to 7% on average.
- Brand differentiation: Visual commerce requires strong execution. But when done correctly, it can set your brand apart from the troves of competitors and make your brand memorable and unique.
- Cost reduction: Investing in visual commerce tools can help reduce photography costs for eCommerce businesses. For example, the Square Photo Studio app can use AI to extract backgrounds and add transparent ones at the click of a button. Both of these tasks would usually require the services of a professional photographer.
Visual commerce platforms
There are plenty of tools that enable visual commerce, but here are three starting points for eCommerce and social platforms:
Threekit is a 3D product configurator and augmented reality platform for eCommerce. The 3D configurator allows customers to configure product options and preview the final product. The AR tool allows shoppers to preview the customized item they’ve created in their space in real time.
Square Photo Studio
The Square Photo Studio app uses AI to optimize product images. You can create studio-quality product photos on your iPhone. All you need to do is take a photo of your product, style it using the Advanced AI tool and photo editing features, then sync your photos to your online store.
Pixlee is a social user-generated content platform that allows you to build a library of visual content from social media posts made by your customers and other users. You can automate the collection of posts using hashtags, use an AI-powered visual search to pick the best quality content, and feature selected content on your website, email, and social media platforms.
Upgrade the customer experience with visual commerce
As a business owner, delivering an excellent customer experience is a priority whether customers are shopping online or in-store. Implementing visual commerce strategies can help you differentiate your business in competitive markets, delight and engage your customers, and ultimately win more sales.