More Than A Thousand Words: The Value of Visual in Commerce
Visuals are memorable and easy to process. They grab our attention more effectively than nearly any other kind of content. And for modern e-commerce companies, they are absolutely essential.
What is Visual Commerce?
Visual commerce is essentially an umbrella term. It covers the different ways an e-commerce company might leverage interactive visual content to enhance the shopping experience for their customers. It's about more than simply uploading product photos and lifestyle imagery — it's about creating new opportunities to engage with your store.
These might include:
- Virtual try-on technology
- Product animations
- Size comparisons
- 360-degree product views
- Interactive product videos
- In-room visualization
- User-generated visuals
- Improving the searchability of visual media through tags and descriptions
The Benefits of Visual Commerce
It's no secret that people are increasingly choosing online instead of in-store shopping. When the pandemic was at its worst, this was a matter of necessity — in many areas, brick-and-mortar outlets were either unsafe or closed down. As the world gradually starts returning to a semblance of normalcy, it's now a matter of convenience.
People witnessed first-hand how much faster, simpler, and more convenient online shopping can be. Instead of having to plan an hours-long trip to the grocery store, they could simply transmit their order through an app. Instead of having to wander through a labyrinthine furniture outlet, they could browse the retailer's inventory online.
For such scenarios to be feasible, however, retailers must change how they approach e-commerce. They must provide their audience with an online experience that mirrors in-store shopping as closely as possible. Customers must be able to explore a product's look, feel, and fit even though they can't actually touch it.
Visual commerce makes this possible, while also conferring several other benefits.
Studio-quality product photos and videos are often prohibitively expensive, particularly for smaller e-commerce brands. In many cases, it's either infeasible or outright impossible to manually capture imagery of every variation of a product. Through a combination of artificial intelligence and augmented reality, visual commerce allows businesses to generate new product and lifestyle photos at a fraction of the cost and time.
User-generated content collected through social media or product reviews can further augment a company's multimedia library while simultaneously acting as social proof for prospective buyers.
Static photos aren't exactly known for their high level of interactivity, and even the best-made lifestyle imagery isn't likely to generate much engagement. If you want to capture and retain people's attention, you need to go a step further. By providing customers with the ability to directly manipulate and interact with your products, you foster a sense of connection and ownership.
And that, in turn, helps keep them focused and interested throughout the purchase process.
Empowerment & Education
While there are rarely issues with purchasing something like a sketchbook or toolset online, certain products will give most shoppers pause.
Someone who's looking for a new couch may be leery of making such a large investment without knowing how the model will look in their home. Someone buying glasses won't want to risk getting a poorly-fitted pair. Someone purchasing luggage for an upcoming trip doesn't want to chance getting the wrong size.
Visual commerce helps your brand address all of these problems, allowing customers to not only visualize how a product might look but also explore, examine, and tweak every detail before they add anything to their cart.
The Social Bridge
Whatever else you might say about social media, you can't deny that it's engaging. Believe it or not, that may actually be a problem for your business. Someone who's used to high levels of interactivity or immersion from an app like TikTok will likely find it incredibly jarring to suddenly go from that to a boring, static website.
By making your content engaging, you can effectively sidestep this problem. For example, Tangiblee recently released a sharing feature for both furniture and jewelry that allows customers to share their virtual try-on photos with friends and family. Whomever they send it to can then open the photo into a live landing page and interact with the jewelry or furniture. This is a great way for customers to share items as gift ideas or share their inspiration for a certain look.
Elevating Your Shopping Experience With Visual Commerce
There are scores of different applications for visual commerce, and what works for one brand won't likely work for another. Before you commit to any one approach, it's important that you understand both your business and its customers. With that said, there are several strategies that many of the savviest brands share in common:
- Virtual try-on sharing
- Dynamic product pages
- Interactivity on Product Listing Pages (PLPs)
- Virtual 3D visualization
- Hybrid commerce that combines in-store shopping with augmented reality
In the early days of e-commerce, visuals were largely viewed as supplementary. Written content was the real star of the show, from product descriptions to blog posts and site content. Today, however, the scales have shifted — visual commerce is now center stage.