COMMENT: Visual content is critical for online retailers

Tom Newbald, the marketing and customer experience director at online beauty retailer Feelunique, pens his tips on why increasing online engagement with and between customers leads to better conversion and transaction rates.


In today’s world, online retail moves at a dizzying pace. Waves of new products, combined with evolving customer expectations and changing tastes mean that many retailers are constantly playing catch-up.

Providing rich content for every new product is seemingly an impossible task – and the fact is that most consumers are increasingly unwilling to take the word of a business or brand when it comes to these products.

Instead, they want reviews and recommendations from their peers, which seems to be a conundrum for many online retailers. So, what’s the answer?

According to some estimates, people spend two hours per day on social media channels consuming – but also crucially producing – content. They post about all aspects of their lives – work, family, hobbies, sports and politics – as well as about the brands and products they love.

This social content represents an enormous opportunity to those online retailers aiming to offer customers a wide range of products with a rich, personalised shopping experience. Online beauty retailer Feelunique has used imagery, reviews and ratings produced online to give shoppers the confidence to buy online, which has in turn increased conversion and revenue across the site.

Confidence to buy beauty products online

Founded on the belief that everyone should have access to beauty, online retailer Feelunique has looked to improve user experience across its site by leveraging visual content as well as ratings and reviews shared by customer advocates.

It used Bazaarvoice Curations to capture and display photos that customers and advocates had already shared on social channels. In the process, it has collected photos from more than 1250 users, generating hundreds of thousands of additional site interactions. It has also collected more than 52,000 reviews either directly from customers or syndicated from brands who are also collecting reviews from customers on their own ecommerce sites.

Visual content tends to be particularly important in the beauty sector, as products tend to be used in an expressive and visual way, and imagery is critical to helping convey other customers’ experience with these products.

Feelunique customer advocates primarily share their content via Instagram. Curations content is displayed as a shoppable gallery as well as on individual product pages – and shoppers engage with both.

Feelunique also learned that 1250 users had provided content featured on its site, with one advocate receiving 124,000 impressions and 1600 interactions on the company site from just three Instagram posts. This reporting allows the retailer to identify passionate brand ambassadors.

The integration of this social content has allowed Feelunique to create a compelling digital shopping experience, while supporting a rapidly-growing catalogue of products.

Engagement goes up with social content

This rich shopping experience has meant more engagement and higher levels of conversion by Feelunique shoppers.

From January to March this year, Feelunique’s shopper gallery generated more than 675,000 views from site visitors, and 13 per cent of viewers interacted by clicking to view more photos, opening them, or clicking on ‘Shop Now’ links. Customers spend more time on pages that have reviews and photos, and shoppers who viewed visual content across the site converted twice as often as those that did not.

It was also discovered that consumers far prefer visual content from advocates to stock or brand imagery. The company tested many different types of content and found that consumer generated content has proven to be more engaging and have higher click-throughs than professional or stock photos.

Collecting reviews from the brands also supports Feelunique’s coverage efforts, as the company benefits from Bazaarvoice syndication, which enables the company to display consumer-generated content collected by their brands outside of their website. To date, syndication has added more than 52,000 reviews to the site.

Richer content – higher conversion and revenue

Increasingly, consumers demand a rich and personalised shopping experience with the convenience of online shopping. At the same time, consumers want the reviews and recommendations of their online peers who have already used the products. This is placing new demands on retailers, in particular those with large numbers of products, who have to provide rich content and information to support these products.

Feelunique was able to offer all of this by leveraging existing social content, including imagery from channels like Instagram and online product ratings and review. This has not only led to higher engagement by shoppers but has also meant increased conversion and revenues across the website.

Tom Newbald is the Marketing & Customer Experience Director at Feelunique

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