How to make your online holiday shop sparkle – and sell

By Jana Lass, director of digital marketing at Cloudinary

Lass: visual experience attracts shoppers to online sites

As retailers ready themselves for the busiest time of the year, many will leverage a variety of newer technologies to boost engagement with today’s digital savvy shoppers. And despite some analysts forecasting 2019 sales to remain relatively flat, according to Statista, British shoppers spent the impressive sum of £748 per person in 2017. One way high street retailers compete for shoppers’ Sterling is through festive window and in-store displays. But without baubles, holly, and mistletoe, how do online retailers create that same sparkle?

The answer is easy. Just as on high street, it’s the visual experience that attract shoppers and keeps them on your site. Here four pro tips for online retailers:

1. 360-degree product views

360˚ views boost customer confidence online

360-degree product views boost consumer confidence by leaving no corner of the product unturned — literally. Whether a buyer wants to know what the underside, back, or trim elements of a product look like, they can virtually turn it over on-screen. 360-degree views also help to limit and reduce returns by providing an extra layer of assurance that the product the customer is buying will meet expectations. 

Pro tip: Remember, the more photos you shoot of a product, the smoother the product will “spin” when shoppers interact with it! I recommend no fewer than eight photos, but for a visibly smoother spinning product, 70 photos is ideal. Some technologies will even automatically generate the 360-degree views for you from static spin set imagery or interactive 360-degree video.

2. Video product reviews and previews 

Preview videos help customers imagine how products look and feel in real life

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth even more. In fact, nearly 90 percent of consumers rely on videos to help make their purchasing decisions, and landing pages with video see higher conversion rates of 80 percent or more.

Product tour videos work well for complex and expensive products

Of course, there are a few distinct types of product videos, each with its own unique benefits and considerations:

  • Product Tour Videos — these are a great way to promote more complex and/ or expensive products. They typically feature a friendly, trustworthy brand representative walking the viewer through the ins and outs of your product. These videos are longer than other types, and often feature distinct sections that viewers can skip to if they’re looking for more information about a specific feature before making a purchase.

  • How-To Videos — these show how real people use your product in their everyday lives. There are ideal for “life hacks” – those creative and unexpected ways that customers came up with to use your products, which are often shared and can even go viral. If you’ve caught wind of some of these, how-to videos are a great way to highlight them without devoting text to them on your product page.

  • Preview Videos — these help customers imagine how your product looks and feels in real life. For example a model sporting a dress, shifting her weight in place, walking down the pavement and maybe giving a quick twirl as she reaches for her coat. This type of immersive, contextualised advertising can create a connection with your customers in a way that more static imagery can’t. 

3. Detailed zooming

A quality zoom function will boost ROI of your e-commerce website

Any company can compete on price. Detailed zooming lets your customers to investigate every inch of your product. If your brand and its products compete on quality and unique detail, a quality detailed zoom function will boost the effectiveness and ROI of your e-commerce website.

Pro tip: The secret to a great zoom function isn’t really zoom at all; it’s the size and resolution of the original image. A “zoom” function actually displays a separate, full-size image. That’s why it’s key to upload both a cropped and formatted product image for display on the product listing page, and a larger, higher-res version to serve as the zoom image. 

4. Real-time customisation 

Customers are less likely to return items they have created themselves

One size doesn’t fit it all. Real-time customisation in digital asset management and e-commerce software lets personalise the colours, designs, functionalities, and add-on features they want right on the product page. Then they see those changes in real-time. When shoppers can create the exact products they want, they are less likely to be disappointed and return items.

Pro tip: Real-time customization means that you don’t need to feature photos of every possible colour and feature combination. By using a customization tool to generate these images on-demand, your e-commerce product page remains cleaner, less cluttered, and easier to navigate — ultimately leading to a faster checkout.

Hopefully these tips have demonstrated that competing on price isn’t the only way to win customers. Rich, immersive visual experiences not only attract visitors and convince them to buy from you, they also decrease the likelihood of returns. The good news is that these virtual holiday ‘decorations’ don’t need to come down after the season and go into the bin. They serve your online shop well all year long.

(A Retail Times’ sponsored article)