I was recently scrolling through Instagram and came across a picture of a guy wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, jeans and sneakers. I really liked the hoodie, so I navigated to the brand’s e-commerce site. That lifestyle photo that piqued my interest on Instagram? It was nowhere to be found. So I searched through the men’s apparel section hoping to find that specific hoodie, but the site’s tree-like structures created far too much friction, turning my shopping experience into a test of stamina and patience. Eventually, I bailed.
My experience is common. Today, consumers are discovering products on a multitude of content channels, led by social media. However, those channels weren’t created for commerce — and those moments of discovery aren’t connected to places of purchase. Brands may not know it, but potential customers (like me) are going from inspired and interested to frustrated and annoyed.
Here are three ways to fix these common commerce problems:
1. Stop going from inspiring to bland.
By now, almost every retail brand is posting lifestyle photography to channels like Instagram and Pinterest. They’re even working with influencers and fans to show how products look on real people, not just models. It’s a smart strategy, but many brands aren’t making that content shoppable and they’re guiding consumers to bland, sterile e-commerce sites. That cool image of the well-dressed woman crossing the street in Manhattan, wearing those to-die-for shoes? It’s been replaced by a boring product image of the shoes set in front of a white background. The e-commerce experience is uninspiring, frustrating consumers and killing conversion.
The solution: The key is continuity. Increasingly, commerce originates in lots of places like social, blogs, videos and ads — places that were never designed for commerce. Make sure the compelling lifestyle imagery you’re sharing off site also appears on your site. Curalate can help your brand deliver a customer-centric commerce experience that’s consistent across all platforms — and it can lead to 79 percent more time on site, a 16 percent increase in average order value and a 31 percent increase in conversion rates.
2. Mimic the in-store experience.
Commerce today is all about experience. Physical stores set the mood with lighting, music and a thoughtful layout curated by an expert. In apparel stores, sales associates typically wear the merchandise they sell, helping consumers see what they would look like in real life. The in-store experience leads consumers to buy ancillary products they never knew they wanted. It’s a major reason why 92 percent of all purchases still take place in brick-and-mortar stores and 65 percent of people who buy online and pick up in-store end up leaving the store with more products than they ordered.
The solution: Offer 360-degree shopping experiences that open your physical stores to millions of people online. Facebook and Google Street View have already gotten people used to 360-degree imagery, and they’re spending nine times more time with 360-degree content than with traditional content. For retailers, that increased browsing time can translate directly to sales. Interested? Check out the newest addition to our platform: Curalate Revolve.
3. Reduce friction in the buying journey.
Too often, consumers are inspired to buy your products but face a long, friction-filled journey to purchase. Maybe it’s a long checkout process, maybe it’s the annoying process of inputting payment details on a small phone screen. In a 2016 study of 650 American e-commerce stores, friction cost $147 billion in potential sales. That’s a huge number for such a small sample size.
The solution: Shorten the path between discovery and purchase. Can you eliminate any steps in the buying journey? On mobile, can you create an uncluttered site that displays only the essentials? Can you make the checkout process as minimal as possible? Can you add easy checkout options like Google Wallet, PayPal or Amazon Pay? Curalate can help by connecting moments of discovery to commerce, eliminating friction and reducing frustration.
Jared Shelly is the manager of content strategy at Curalate, a company that makes commerce frictionless, everywhere.