The emphasis around visual content is on the rise as brands are increasingly dedicating resources to improving the customer experience, and that’s a good thing. A PriceWaterhouseCooper study found that experience is more likely to affect a customer’s buying decision than the price or quality of a product.
So what makes for a good customer experience in the era of smartphones and tablets? Plenty of visual content. You’ve probably seen people on public transit streaming video on their phones or people scrolling through Instagram while they wait in line. This is the new normal: we love images.
In fact, when we’re shopping online, we now expect as many as eight images per product (up from just three in 2016).
But while the technology is new, our natural tendencies haven’t changed much. Think back to the days of the elaborate window displays: as customers, we’ve always enjoyed a visual spectacle. The only thing that’s different now is that the store window has moved online.
Creating compelling, visual experiences that delight and entice your customers to come in and then check out with your product is the future of commerce.
How to create outstanding visual content and experiences: A checklist
1. Let shoppers customize
In physical stores, shoppers can compare multiple models or colors of your merchandise. But if they want a custom version – say, a sofa you have on the floor in a fabric you have as a swatch – they have to use their imaginations. They may be reluctant to make a purchase because it’s hard to know whether the color that looks great as a one-inch-by-one-inch square will actually work spread over a sofa.
Online, you can use visuals to show customers exactly how that sofa would look.
By investing in virtual product photography, which generates photorealistic images of products based on 3D manufacturer’s files, you can pre-render thousands of versions of your products – including a sofa in literally every fabric you have available.
If you offer customization beyond choosing colors – say, you sell watches with dozens of customizable features – you can offer interactive 3D to show customers what their creations look like in real time.
Real-time product visuals take the guesswork out of shopping, which is huge for those selling bigger-ticket items. By showing customers exactly what they’re ordering, you remove the uncertainty that might have kept them from hitting “buy.”
Even better? You’re creating an experience that could only happen online. You’re giving customers more than what they’d find in a physical store – and making the online shopping process fun and engaging.
2. Let shoppers touch
You can’t create a great customer experience without first winning customer trust. One way to do that is to give customers the option to manipulate your product images.
Brick-and-mortar shoppers like pick up products and consider them from every angle, and online shoppers want a similar experience. This is where rotating 360-degree images can help.
Rotating 360-degree images make it possible for shoppers to not only zoom in on a product but also rotate it completely, often on multiple axes. While this kind of imagery doesn’t actually amount to touching a product, the fact that it will increase shoppers’ trust in what you’re selling is significant: more trust means a better experience. It also increases the odds that they’ll feel confident enough to buy.
Maybe the best news, though, is that if you’re already investing in virtual photography, 360-degree rotations are well within your reach. These interactive images are created by stitching together dozens of still images, all of which can be created from the same 3D file you’d use to create any single still image.
3. Let shoppers take stuff home
Have you ever felt as though if your customers could just see your products in their homes, they’d instantly fall in love and hit “buy”?
Now it’s possible to make that a reality – without giving away a bunch of free merchandise.
With the power of augmented reality (AR), any shopper’s smartphone can be used to bring your goods into their rooms. This is possible by using AR technology to superimpose 3D renderings of your products on images of a shopper’s home.
Let’s revisit that customized sofa from earlier. The shopper loves it but they’re not sure if it will fit in their living room. AR to the rescue: with the right app, the shopper can see instantly whether it will fit and how it will look. A few brands are already doing this – Wayfair in particular is known for its true-to-scale digital renderings so that customers are certain when they check out that their newest purchases will work.
Delight customers with your product visuals
Two decades ago, we were talking about the importance of having an “online presence.”
Today, being present online is table stakes. If you want to stand out, win new customers, and keep your existing customers coming back, you have to offer them an online experience that’s fundamentally different from anything they could experience in stores. You have to give them a reason to keep coming back.
That type of experience starts with the kind of visual content that won’t let shoppers look away.