The marketplace for e-commerce has been rapidly rising since Amazon first launched as an online bookstore back in 1995. A recent market forecast report from eMarketer suggests that e-commerce sales will reach $4.058 trillion in 2020, accounting for 14.6 percent of total retail projections for the year.
Even with the growing popularity of e-commerce, brick and mortar is still the preferred retail channel for many consumers. The latest consumer survey conducted by Retail Dive illustrates that the top reason for choosing to shop in store versus online is the ability to “see, touch, feel, and try out items”.
In an ever-increasing digital landscape, today’s consumer yearns for something tangible. How can retailers create a digital experience that will evoke the palpability of an in-store experience?
360-Degree Rotating Images
If you’re reading this blog, it is likely that you are familiar with 360-degree rotating images. They are not new, cutting-edge technology; they have been around for a while. However, it is interesting how few retailers are currently utilizing them on their e-comm sites, particularly when they have such a proven record of increasing online conversions.
For example, e-commerce brand DueMaternity.com implemented 360-degree spin images and saw a 27% increase in product sales as a result. GolfSmith.com also experimented with 360-degree rotating images and although their results varied based on the product page, they saw an increase in conversion rates ranging from 10-40%.
ASICS is a brand with product photography that we admire. Each shoe in their collection is consistently shot at the same angles. Their website utilizes hover zoom technology that allows users to zoom in on 6 to 7 product images to view more detail. Imagine what it would do for their conversions if users were able to zoom in and view the products from all angles?
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video must be at least 10 times that. A research survey conducted by LiveClicker concluded that the presence of video content on an e-commerce product page increased the average order value by about 50%. Home storage retailer StacksandStacks.com added product videos to their product pages and conducted A/B testing to reveal that a consumer who views a product video is up to 144% more likely to add that product to their cart.
Since consumers have expressed their desire to “see, touch, feel, and try out items” as their main driver for in-store purchases, why aren’t more retailers creating product videos to emulate a brick and mortar shopping experience online? For example, watching a model walk in a dress will show so much more than a still image can convey. Through a product video, customers can see how the dress moves, where the hemline hits, how the material conforms to the body, etc. What if retailers took it a step further and created different product videos for different body types and sizes? What if consumers could select a model with measurements like their own and then be served product images and videos specific to their body type?
In addition to fit, finish, and feel, there are certain products that showcase better when utilizing video as the channel rather than with traditional still photography. For example, with the recent return of 90’s fashion, footwear brand LA Gear has partnered with Tyga to promote their line of light-up sneakers, LA Lights. LA Gear already utilizes 360-degree rotating images on their site, allowing users to rotate the shoes and zoom in on all angles. Imagine what it would do for their conversions if users were able to see the full effect of the lights in a product video?
Virtual and Augmented Reality
To take the tangibility of the online experience to the next level, modern retailers are experimenting with virtual and augmented reality applications. Earlier this year, major retailer Gap released a new pilot app called “The Dressing Room” in partnership with Google and a San Francisco developer. The Dressing Room allows users to choose a Gap product, select one of five different body types, and then virtually “try on” clothing without stepping foot in a dressing room.
The Dressing Room by Gap is considered augmented reality since it overlays virtual images on top of real-life images. The application currently offers five different body types to choose from (extra small, small, medium, large, and extra-large) and is compatible with any Google Tango supported device.
Imagine if a denim brand, such as True Religion, offered this technology? In the world of retail, there is arguably nothing more satisfying than finding the perfect pair of jeans or more painful than the process it takes to do so.
In conclusion, the e-commerce experience is constantly improving and we continue to see good examples of great companies doing an excellent job in this space. But what would happen if all major retailers utilized the techniques that are well-proven to increase transactions at a minimal cost? How would that change things?
Most consumers prefer an online transaction if it can match the level of experience that brick and mortar provides. What products do you insist on buying in-person and what would it take to get you to purchase them online instead? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.