We aren’t in the post-literate age just yet, but the way we absorb information is changing radically with the broad adoption of smartphones and tablets. Commerce is no longer driven by text. Increasingly, what we buy is determined by the graphics and images on our screens. It’s dramatic visuals—not words—that hook eyeballs, stimulate the desire for products, and drive profits.
That’s the take-home message of Three Best Practices to Optimize Digital Commerce for Visual Experiences, a new study from Gartner. The report notes that most businesses are lagging behind customer needs when it comes to the digital presentation of their products. Digital storefronts traditionally have been arranged around a clunky text-based taxonomic structure that requires huge chunks of screen real estate and multiple clicks to find specific products. This is cumbersome enough on PCs, a technology that is fading rapidly into antiquity—but it can be positively maddening on smartphones and tablets. They simply aren’t designed for such click-intensive navigation.
In short, businesses need to completely rethink the way they conduct commerce in the rapidly accelerating era of image dominance. They have to provide a seamless, streamlined process that dovetails with mobile technology, allowing consumers to see and buy rather than read and buy. The report recommends three strategies for achieving this goal:
Text has long—too long—reigned supreme in the digital commerce realm. The Gartner report examines the power of image marketing, providing the latest statistics on the demand for this approach, the critical role it is playing in both B2C and B2B transactions, and the steps companies must take to enhance their visual search assets.
Build Immersive Experiences for Configurable Products
Consumers already are comfortable purchasing generic products online. But as configurable options expand, as the ability to create essentially bespoke products accelerates, buyer confidence plummets; customers often are frustrated when they try to customize their products on sites weighted toward text. The report provides case studies of companies that have responded proactively to this reality, detailing the processes and technologies they employed and their subsequent successes in promoting products and boosting profits.
Facilitate Quick Check-Out to Maximize Conversion
While brand and marketing teams have been immensely successful in creating rich and emotionally engaging digital content to promote products and services, this information is often far removed from check-out points. Content can actually inhibit sales by occluding points of purchase, resulting in customer frustration—and ultimately, lost profits. The Gartner report shows how companies can resolve this issue through new approaches to blogs, videos, content reviews, and mobile payment.
The study confirms both the growing dominance of mobile visual search in commerce and the steps companies can take—must take—to harness this technology. It’s a required read for all marketers and brand managers.
Source: Gartner, Three Best Practices to Optimize Digital Commerce for Visual Experiences, March 26, 2019, Marty Resnick & Christina Klock