“There’s no place like home for the holidays,” rings truer than ever this year. Due to the pandemic, consumers are avoiding large crowds in-store and instead, opting to shop online to complete their holiday shopping. From the comfort of their own homes, shoppers can safely browse, purchase and deliver gifts for their loved ones.
In fact, Deloitte predicts that holiday e-commerce sales will surge by 25% to 35% this season, amounting to between $182 billion and $196 billion in sales. Brands with an e-commerce presence have a big opportunity to engage with the rising number of online consumers and take a piece of the pie. To grab market share in an uber-competitive environment, they must invest in the right digital tools to create an engaging online customer experience.
Here are a few simple ways brands can enhance their e-commerce sites to engage with customers this holiday season and beyond.
Rockin’ around the product views
With consumers avoiding stores this holiday season, it’ll become more important than ever for retailers to provide an accurate and detailed account of the products online. Since shoppers aren’t able to touch, feel, taste or smell the products, it’s imperative that what’s displayed on the website gives them an in-person sense of what they can expect when they receive their order. To do this, brands can take advantage of two main product view tools.
Spinning product views
In a physical store, shoppers can pick up an item and look at every angle of a product. Retailers can replicate this experience by adding smooth spinning 360-degree product views, allowing viewers to turn the item with their fingers or mouse. This can be done through static spin set imagery or interactive 360-degree videos. (Here’s how.) Because they’re able to virtually turn over each item on-screen, shoppers can be confident of what they’re purchasing, decreasing return rates and increasing customer satisfaction.
Another way to replicate the brick-and-mortar experience is by offering detailed zooming capabilities that allow customers to get a close-up look at every part of the product. For example, someone shopping for a luxury handbag can zoom in on the clasps, zipper, material and more. A full-size, high-res version of the product image will be key for this. By having a clear picture of all the minute details, detailed zooming can boost the effectiveness of the website and encourage customers to “add to cart.”
Shoppable and micro-videos are coming to town
We’ve said it time and time again; video is a powerful and persuasive platform that is easily one of the most effective ways to communicate with consumers. Videos simply capture a message in ways that images can’t achieve, going beyond a still image to a fully captivating story that incorporates features like sound and movement. This holiday season, brands can take video one step further with shoppable videos and micro-videos.
Shoppable videos list products alongside the video in an expandable product bar, enabling visitors to interact with the products and find out more details. This tool adds a more captivating user experience by linking visitors to the relevant pages to make a purchase and adding clickable hotspots that highlight the product’s exact location. Instead of only showing the links when the video stops playing, the links appear throughout the entire video, which brings products to life through interactivity, boosting click-through rates and elevating brand awareness.
Consumers have short attention spans, and brands must cut through the noise to get to them. That’s why micro-video content, short five- to 20-second videos, can play a significant role in attracting viewers and swaying an audience. For the video to be responsive, the video should fill the width of the screen while maintaining its original ratio. If done correctly, this short format can create a sweet but mighty opportunity to boost engagement and conversions in just seconds.
‘Tis the season for microbrowsers
Thinking outside of the actual e-commerce website, there’s also an opportunity to unlock the power of “dark social,” or web traffic generated when people share links through private channels. For example, in the spirit of gift-giving, people are sending their wish lists to family and friends, hoping that what they ask for will appear under the tree. Consumers are likely using private communications apps called microbrowsers, such as Facebook Messenger, Slack and WhatsApp, to send these product links to loved ones.
When designing their e-commerce sites, brands must be certain that when a link unfurls into a thumbnail preview, an optimal image or video is displayed. Cloudinary’s 2020 State of Visual Media report found that link previews provide huge engagement opportunities, yet many brands often overlook how their site design might be impacting the generated preview. If brands don’t pay attention to this important prospect, they risk losing valuable peer-to-peer recommendations that convert into sales and reads.
Good tidings for brands who bring visual online experiences
It’s been an unusual year for brands, and it’s hard to predict what comes next. However, one thing we know for sure is that those who create a compelling and immersive e-commerce experience with these tips will certainly win over customers this holiday season.