An Essential Tool in E-Commerce
The definition of “shoppable” in the Oxford Living English Dictionary makes this sound so simple, describing it as “a piece of online content featuring products that are available for immediate purchase via links within the content itself.”So a shopper can click on a product photo in an e-commerce catalog and get the item directly into his/her shopping cart at the site.
And yet, the technology to
accomplish this has proven
so complex that it took ZINation’s
IT engineers two years
to perfect the first truly shoppable
catalog. Launched in
April, it enables a buyer to
go directly to a site’s cart,
eliminating steps to a hosted
cart at another site—steps
that may go unnoticed by
shoppers but make a difference for e-commerce owners.
Plus this may accelerate the purchasing process. And nowadays, speed is crucial, writes Bettina Oksen Bendorf, inbound marketing specialist at iPaper. “It’s widely known that the fewer the steps in the buying process, the higher the conversions. “Many companies have seen that when connecting their digital catalogs with their eCommerce solution, sales increase,” she writes. “When catalog browsers can easily add to cart without leaving the inspirational environment of the catalog, the sales tick in.” (1)
Engaging Shoppers’ Imagination
But speed and efficiency are only two elements of the equation as making the buyer’s journey not only seamless from catalog to cart but also seductive is a must for any e-commerce. With people shopping whenever they can find a moment—according to several studies, they often browse while in bed, in the bathroom and during short breaks at work—they will leave a site within seconds unless they are engaged. “As brands try to stand out from the crowd, they turn to content marketing, charging their products with emotions and wrapping them into personal stories,” said Olga Rabo, content marketing and community manager at Styla. (2) “[B]efore, the future of commerce was simply about being online —but today, the future of commerce is all about context,” she said. So an e-commerce must not only display photos of products but also present those products in images that tell stories and will appeal to shoppers’ imagination: people putting on sports shoes about to get into a match, a man or woman cooking with brand pots and pans, or a mother putting a designer bow in her daughter’s hair. “Crystal clear and simple product images can help to show the details of a product, while using photography to show products in context can be a huge influential factor in helping
your customer experience a product as if they’re already using it,” said Joost Buijs, online marketer at Publitas. (3)
The Role of Product Photos
“The online catalog can combine the two types of photography in a seamless and elegant way,” Mr. Buijs said. “It allows you to present your products in context, while allowing a clickthrough for your customer to get the product details…to further evaluate the product,” he said.
E-commerce analysts stress that catalog photos should be done professionally to set the stage and feature products in the best possible light. But there could be exceptions as Azeezat Owokoniran-Jimoh and Damilare Jimoh of Coal N Terry explained in a blog on selling vintage clothes online posted at Shopify.com. “We noticed that our customers tend to respond better to pictures taken with our phones as opposed to professionally done
photo shoots,” they said. (4) Knowing one’s potential customers will help determine product photos’ style and quality level that will appeal to them. It also will help determine which context to illustrate and stories to tell through images in order to capture their imagination and set one apart from
When catalog browsers can easily add to cart without leaving the inspirational environment of the catalog, the sales tick in.
Bettina Oksen Bendorf, inbound marketing