This article is a guest post written by Samir Palnitkar, the President at ShopSocially.
The question remains, how can I use visual commerce to take my business to the next level? People are more than willing, even eager, to share photos online. After all, we're living in the age of selfie sticks, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, Pinterest, and all things visual and viral. Just take two social media sites for example: Instagram’s 400 million active users now post a staggering 70 million photos per day, while 350 million photos are uploaded daily to Facebook.
Therefore, visual commerce can work to your overwhelming advantage if your customers are willing to snap a pic of your product and give you a shout-out. In reality, very few retailers are harnessing the monumental opportunity to showcase user-generated photos on their site and capture the trust of their website visitors.
Repetitive, boring, stock images are unattractive and inauthentic to today’s consumer, but finding wiggle room in your budget to allow for fresh visual content each day can be a burden. With more than 2 billion photos being uploaded every day, it is clear that users love to take pictures and share them! And, since they’re probably doing it anyway, customer-generated photos aren’t likely hard to come by.
Prompting customers to provide genuine feedback by sharing their own pictures of a product is a simple task with incalculable rewards. A customer will feel valued, needed, and heard, and potential customers will feel more confident in shopping with you. Netsphere Strategies reports that 63% of US shoppers say that they trust customer photos more than brand or retailer photos.
One of the simplest strategies for brands to encourage visual testimonials (Photos) from the customer is to engage users post purchase at a point of delight – right after they received their product. Running contents, promotional campaigns via social media, website etc. can generate a lot of user generated photos which in turn can act as visual endorsements for the brand.
Here are a few easy ways in which you can encourage your customers to share pictures of your brand.
Step 1 - Ask and continue to drive engagement
- Send a quick and friendly email thanking the customer for the purchase, then give the opportunity and incentive for them to share a photo of the product
- Suggest your brand specific hash tag to the customer while sharing the photos on social media
- To facilitate photo sharing on the website allow users to upload photos directly via photo sharing widgets
- Insert a flyer in every shipment and encourage shoppers to share a photo. Offer a discount on the next purchase in return for their feedback, and even count their upload as entry into a contest for the attractive element of gamification!
Remember, giving incentives in the form of rewarding loyalty points can be a huge driver for shoppers to upload their photos. Visual commerce is not only pertinent for online shopping! In a brick and mortar setting, offer an attractive prop or display and ask the customer to share a selfie on social media with a brand specific hashtag
Step 2 - Showcase the continued engagement
Now that you have a way to engage satisfied customers, make sure customer-generated photos are easily accessible and highly visible on your website. Obviously, you must also have a way to moderate these photos.
- Create a dedicated section on your website to show customer photos. You can create a photo strip on your homepage featuring various customer-generated photos to foster a sense of trust and friendliness to your business
- Showcase the photos in an easy-to-view photo strip on the product page as social proof. As a customer, one can easily envision what the product will look like while seeing it from another customer
- Create a photo gallery section on your website for potential customers to connect with you and those who have shopped with you before? Consumers new and old will recognize the emphasis you place on customer satisfaction and will rely on you as a retailer
- Include a prominent link in your website navigation pointing to the customer gallery
Acquiring user-generated photos is a straightforward and indispensable process for retailers in today’s market. In order to keep up with today’s consumer, businesses must connect with customers on a whole new level. Customer engagement with visual commerce is essential and highly profitable.
For more in-depth advice, result-yielding strategies, and easy-to-implement tools, download ShopSocially’s 2016 IRCE presentation! ShopSocially has been established as a reliable authority on today’s social ecommerce marketplace and this resource will prove to be invaluable in furthering your visual commerce strategies in business.
Samir Palnitkar is the President at ShopSocially, a unified marketing platform for referral and loyalty solutions. He is a serial entrepreneur who has done four successful startups prior to ShopSocially. He has over 20 years of industry experience, has been awarded five technology patents and has written two technical books.