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The Dos and Don’ts of Visual Commerce – It’s all about balance.

Jeri Kelley
Product Strategy - Oracle Commerce

After
my last post on
what
visual commerce actually means
, I decided to start a list of some do’s and
don’ts when working with visual content on commerce sites.
With global B2C ecommerce sales expected to
reach
$1.7
trillion in 2015
the stakes are high for companies to out-pace their
competition.
Visual commerce is one
area that companies are betting on to help get them to the front of the
pack.
I plan to keep updating this list
but here is a start – feel free to add to the discussion in the comments!

Do:

Mix social + product content

Mixing in imagery and reviews from social media sites can
help consumers see your product(s) in a different light, but don’t rely solely
on social content. Consumers still want
to see your product up close through product imagery and need to know the
specifics that only you can provide – what colors/sizes are available? What are the dimensions? Etc. Mixing these types of content on your site will allow consumers to discover
everything they need to know all in one spot.

Use video and interactive content when possible

Beyond imagery, consumers want to see products in action. In fact, according to TV Page, brands are
seeing a 79% increase in conversion rates after [consumers] watch a video. And, while videos are able to help your
customers visualize how your product works or how it will look – remember to
make conversions easy by embedding links directly to your product so consumers
can purchase. At the very least, lead them to your home page
or a category page if you are worried about managing inventory or having to
frequently update your videos.

Make your products “touchable” and real 

Show what your products look like un-staged. What do I mean by this? I mean, what are your customers actually
going to get in the mail? The bedroom set
looks gorgeous, but if someone ordered the bed, they aren’t going to get it
with the mattress, bedding, or side tables so make sure to show them an image
of what’s actually going to be shipped. Clothing brands are embracing this trend by
using actual consumer measurements vs. relying solely on models to display
their clothing. Technology companies
like Fits.me or Qvit.com offer virtual dressing room technology so consumers
can enter their measurements and see what the product “could” look like on
their body type. Other companies are also starting to
incorporate user-generated pictures directly into product reviews so customers
can not only see reviews but also a “real-life” picture tied directly to a review.
JCPenney is a company that has started
to use this feature on their customer reviews – check
it out on this product page
.  

Provide more than just content about your product

Consumers want to know what they can do with your products
beyond just the basics. Vitamix does a
great job of incorporating various types of content. Everyone thinks of using a blender to make
smoothies but Vitamix wants consumers to think outside
the box
and provides ideas and recipes through videos and other content to
help consumers fully utilize their products. Who knew you could also make salad dressings, ice cream, and muffin
batter with a blender!

Don’t: 

Overdo It

You know the saying “too much of a good thing.” It is tempting to leverage all of the
exciting visual technology to showcase your brand and products and yes, consumers
want to see how your product works, but don’t overwhelm them. You need to find the right balance for your
brand and this will depend on many factors such as who your customer is, the industry
you are in, the product you are selling, etc. Our awesome visual designer, Dan King, wrote a post a few weeks ago on design trends
and points out that you need to be deliberate in your design. “Intentionally plan the focal point on every
page. Use the hero principle and make
one thing the star of the page.” This
rings very true when incorporating visual content.   Make your products “touchable” without
taking away from conversions and revenue.

Overpromise

This ties back to “do” make your product touchable but be
realistic about what your product can actually do or how it will look. We are all marketers and get that selling is
an art, especially online, but nothing is more disappointing that getting your
new [you name it] and it doesn’t look or function like you thought it would. You can hook your customers with the slick
visuals, but make sure to show them what is going to actually arrive at their
door. Remember, there is a difference
between selling and altering the truth. You
may increase conversions by overpromising but what is the impact on your return
rate or negative feedback from customers?

Assume that visual commerce only applies to B2C brands /
retailers

Finally, a lot of B2B brands that I talk to say that visual
content beyond standard product shots is just not a priority for them. Well, it should be. Another
Oracle Commerce product strategist, Brenna Johnson, wrote last week about brand
manufacturers selling direct to consumer and the importance of unifying storytelling and
selling
. All B2B brands, not just brand
manufactures, need to take her advice to heart and realize that every one of
their B2B buyers is also a B2C consumer. They expect to have the same
experience and see the same types of content as they would when shopping at “xyz.com”. Start incorporating video content, social
media, and other interactive content into the experience. Investing in visual content and technology
can help differentiate a B2B site experience as competition in this space
continues to heat up.

A key takeaway from all of these dos and don’ts of visual
commerce is to focus on balance. Find
the right balance between what types of content you will use and what will
deliver the greatest impact for your brand, product, and customers.

More to come on this topic and look forward to any
additional dos and don’ts in the comments! 

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