It’s not easy for a website to replicate the holiday spirit that unique physical store arrangements and holiday décor can inspire in shoppers. To compete, online retailers must present a rich, immersive visual experience. Here are four ways to do that.

Jana Lass, director of digital marketing, Cloudinary

Jana Lass, director of digital marketing, Cloudinary

It’s that time of year when brick-and-mortar stores everywhere are decked with festive decor, ready for the influx of customers making their holiday purchases. Shoppers are on the hunt for the perfect gifts, each expecting to spend an average of  $1,048 during the 2019 holiday season.

But whether you’re a pure-play online retailer or ecommerce is just an important part of your omnichannel business, it’s not easy to replicate the holiday spirit that unique store arrangements and holiday décor can inspire in shoppers. Of course, that’s only a part of the problem, since most retailers find it hard to provide the same visual product experience physical retailers are capable of year-round. But as more sales go online—as 2019’s record-breaking Black Friday figures emphasize—there are many proven ways to capture shopper attention and encourage sales.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but these days, a video is worth even more.

The key takeaway is that to capitalize on digital shoppers, online retailers must make it easy for consumers to see products through a rich, immersive visual experience. Simply put, they must reproduce as much of the in-store experience as possible. Let’s dive into some of the most impactful ways to create a successful ecommerce showroom, walking through best practices that can help retailers carry increased sales and revenue into the new year.

Create Spinning 360-Degree Product Views

In the store, shoppers like to flip items around to see every part of the design so they can make an informed decision before purchasing. They want to see the underside, back, the details, the craftsmanship, and everything in-between. Online retailers can provide this same type of assurance by creating 360-degree product views on their website.

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With a 360-degree view, shoppers can virtually turn over every aspect of each product and see the item from every angle. This allows retailers to create stunning spins that are highly interactive for the visitor. For example, a customer looking to purchase a piece of jewelry can interact with a 3D-rendered product viewer to get a full view of each taper and bevel, helping the shopper carefully select the piece just right for them.

Remember, the more images that can be pieced together to create this 3D experience, the higher the image quality of the unified piece. Every product should have at least eight images feeding it, with the sweet spot for smooth transitions coming in at about 70 images each.

Allow Shoppers to Get Up Close

Similarly, shoppers want a zoom feature that allows them to see the little details in an item they’re gifting. Zoom allows shoppers to magnify items on the product page and see everything from the texture to the minute details.

To ensure the zoom function shows clear quality photos, it’s important to focus on the size and resolution of the original image. It’s this factor, not really the zoom capability itself, that creates an effective zoom function. Since the zoom function will display a separate, full-size image, it’s key to upload both a cropped and formatted product image to display on the product listing page, and a larger, higher-resolution version to serve as the zoom image. After all, if the visual is low-quality or takes a long time to load, the function can backfire, causing shopper frustration and lost sales.

Use Shoppable Videos and Product Demos to Capture Sales

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but these days, a video is worth even more. Video content can deliver a stunning visual that demonstrates all that a product has to offer. Just like 360-degree images, videos give customers a better idea of the product they will be ordering and give them the confidence they need to complete the purchase. In fact, consumers are 64-85% more likely to buy a product after viewing a product video.

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To illustrate, models can style a pair of shoes, demonstrating all angles with a live-action shot. Product experts can walk the viewer through the ins and outs of a new camera’s advanced features to visibly showcase what otherwise might just be geek speak. Or, a retailer can show a wary customer just how easy it is to put together the basketball hoop that comes in four separate boxes.

Video is one of the most effective ways to replicate a hands-on experience and drive sales but is still one of the most under-utilized promotion tactics, presenting a huge opportunity to stand out from the competition.

Make it Personal

No one wants to be the boring friend who buys the generic gift, and personalized gifts are big business—especially for apparel. However, when there are many color, design, size, functionalities, and add-on features to choose from, it can be difficult for shoppers to imagine what a final personalized product will look like. With real-time customization, customers can actually see the final item before adding to cart.

As shoppers select different options and changes, it’s important to show them exactly what the product will look like before they purchase it. This will avoid any unnecessary surprises for shoppers and gift-getters and helps limit the onslaught returns after the holidays.

Just don’t clutter the page with every combination of available options. Retailers should allow customers to pick from a menu of options that generates a single, unique image. It’s much cleaner, less confusing and a lot more fun for the shopper!

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These four key elements are important drivers to creating a magical online shopping experience for the holiday and beyond. By implementing these functionalities, retailers can add value to shoppers’ digital journey and level the playing field with physical brick-and-mortars. It will also help to add a little sparkle to shoppers’ decision-making process and give them a little push in the right direction.

Cloudinary provides cloud-based image- and video-management services.

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