Are you looking to provide better product experiences in your online store? Wondering how to ensure that your product visuals engage customers more effectively?
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FACT: A vast majority of customers today prefer to shop from the comfort of their homes and mobile devices now. What’s more, for 67% of them, the recent pandemic has irrevocably changed the way they think of retail. Many of those people do not feel as comfortable visiting brick and mortar stores, as they are with browsing eCommerce sites.
The result? 34% increase in online retail sales in 2020 alone, and an incredible business opportunity for stores like yours.
But… All this has also increased the demand for delivering good product experiences.
How else is your store going to stand out from the other sites potential customers visit, capture their imagination, and inspire them to take action, after all, than by beating others at product experience?
So, in this guide, we’ll show you some ways to improve product experiences in your online store.
Before we get to that, though, let’s briefly revisit the concept of the product experience.
What is Product Experience?
The term – product experience – refers to an aspect of a customer journey that focuses on a person’s experience with a product before and after the purchase.
But the term refers not only to actual, physical interaction with a product. Naturally, holding a product you want to purchase in your hands beforehand is a product experience. But so is reviewing its photos or videos on an online retailer’s site or reading more information about it.
For that reason, the concept of product experience also includes a customer’s perception of a product, based on all sensory inputs.
For example, a person might feel certain emotions about a product, based on visuals on a retailer’s site. Similarly, such content and information might generate notions not only about what the product does but also, how the product is going to affect the person’s life.
Why product experience is so important now?
You’ve seen some data confirming the shift in customer behavior earlier in this post already.
You know that online retail is growing at an astonishing rate. You, most likely, also know that the recent pandemic only fuelled the growth of online shopping further.
But the rise of eCommerce shopping has brought a significant challenge. Since customers embrace the digital product experience, shops have suddenly found themselves left with fewer options to expose customers to the product.
With physical products, customers can’t touch, smell, or try a product. This makes it harder not only to evaluate its qualities but also, to get a sense of the ownership.
The problem? Lack of the factors above can easily negatively impact a person’s buying decision.
Product experience allows a brand to provide a person with an opportunity to immerse themselves with a product digitally. And there are many ways online stores use to achieve that.
Here are just a few examples:
- Product pages filled with images and videos can provide a world-class experience of a product.
- 3D viewers can give an experience of product usage and ownership
- In-content shopping, product comparison tools, product configurators, and more help companies refine customers’ product perception and more.
Here are a couple of other areas that product experiences can improve:
- Product adoption – Better product content can help you reach new customers, and drive product and feature adoption.
- Customer retention – Product experience can also increase customer success. By measuring the overall customer experience you can discover ways to increase the customer lifetime value.
- Product development – Once again, evaluating and improving the product experience can help product teams improve their decision-making processes and drive better product adoption and development.
Want to learn more? Check out our detailed guide to the product experience.
How to Improve and Optimize Product Experiences in eCommerce
Based on what we’ve discussed so far, we know that:
- Product experiences shape an awful lot of our online buying decisions.
- Content, primarily visuals, drives many of those experiences, and
- Their importance will only continue to grow.
So, how to ensure that your brand provides such experiences to customers?
Here are some ideas to consider:
#1. Better image optimization
At a most basic level, any visuals you use should faithfully represent the product. They should also offer a glimpse into what it would be like for a person to own it. These visuals should also explain the different potential uses for the product too.
But that’s all obvious, isn’t it?
So, how can you take product images and visual representations to a whole new level?
Our advice – Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Consider what aspects of a product they’d like to experience?
If they’d like to see the build quality, give them an option to inspect the product up close.
That’s what one of our customers, Scott Sports, does. The company gives users an advanced zoom option, allowing them to see the product closely.
Shopapotheke uses a similar approach. The company allows customers to hoover zoom on any image to view whatever detail they’re interested in.
Mammut, another company using CELUM to manage its content, solves this problem differently. The company includes close-up pictures of build elements that users care about. Like the seam quality in their wear.
But what if your customers expect to see different variations of the item? There are ways to allow them to switch selection without having to switch between product pages.
Mammut offers an option to switch between different colors directly on the product category page. Users don’t even have to visit a particular product page to test different colors of items they’re interested in.
#2. Better metadata
Do you know what one of the most common challenges product managers and creative teams face with eCommerce visuals?
Being able to locate and match the most relevant assets.
Think about it – With thousands, if not more, visuals to use – images, videos, etc. – it’s pretty easy to get lost track of what’s what.
The result? Creatives using wrong image versions, assets getting lost and never appearing on the website and other customer touchpoints, and more.
So, although adding better metadata doesn’t necessarily improve visuals per se, it ensures that assets are easier to find, and teams can manage them with other content projects.
#3. Single source of content
This advice goes in line with the above. Having all content in one place will result in greater consistency. Whether a file is part of a social media campaign, a product page, digital signage, or even a print catalog, with a single source, it will always match what customers see in other touch points.
#4. Up-to-date visuals
Products change. They evolve. Producers launch new versions and iterations. Some of those bring significant changes, others only small tweaks to the original design.
But regardless of how big or small a change is, you should always feature the most up-to-date visuals. This way, customers get to experience the exact product that they can buy.
Companies like Refurbed often show generic, stock photos of computers on sale. Although these images typically represent the actual model advertised, they fail to show customers what they’re really getting.
#5. Better asset localization
It’s true – visuals are universal. In most cases, they contain no characteristics that require translating into other languages.
That doesn’t mean, however, that your store won’t need to feature assets containing either copy that needs to be localized, or elements optimized to display in different regions of the world.
Even if your store targets regions using the same language, you might still encounter cultural differences that could render advertising or marketing projects moot.
Being able to manage localization projects within the same application you use to manage assets, oversee production, and manage the review process will reduce the possibility of any localization issues.
Other Ideas to Help You Improve Product Experience in Your Store
Ideas we’ve discussed above relate to what we call sensory product experience. This aspect of product experience includes our perception of the product through visuals, sounds, and so on.
But product experience is a vast category. And so, below we’ve included other ideas to help you improve your store’s PX.
#1. Visualize the customer journey
Customers will engage with product content across multiple channels. Some might come across it on social media. Others will carefully review visuals on product pages. Many of them might come across your product videos on YouTube and other visual channels. Then, there are product listing ads, other advertising channels, and a whole lot in between.
But unless you know a) how customers search for products like yours, and b) what their buying journey is like, you won’t be able to ensure that you present the right content to them at the right time.
Visualize your customer journey. Use data from Google Analytics, advertising platforms, marketing campaigns, and more to build a complete picture of where customers engage with your content.
Based on that, you’ll be able to create content that matches their expectations more precisely.
#2. Experiment with different content formats
This step is a lot about experimenting and identifying new ways to boost product experience.
Evaluate the customer journey for any potential gaps that you could plug. For example, you might realize that you lack videos at a particular stage of the journey. Or that your landing pages lack certain visual assets.
Creating those additional content assets might create new ways of engagement and boost the user experience with your products.
#3. Evaluate your product experience
Run surveys like NPS or CSAT to evaluate how engaged users are with your products.
NPS (net promoter score) is a metric that allows you to evaluate customer satisfaction based on a likelihood of a person recommending your product or service to others.
CSAT (customer satisfaction survey) on the other hand, helps you evaluate how satisfied customers are with your product. However, you can use the survey to also evaluate their satisfaction with particular aspects of your business (like the customer service), product features, and more.
This company, for example, uses CSAT to find out whether customers enjoy using a particular feature of their product.
Combined, NPS and CSAT could help you evaluate customer sentiment towards products and the product experience.
#5. Identify the audience’s target pain points
Every day, your audience experiences difficulties and challenges that your products help them overcome.
Understanding what those pain points are will help you create content strategies to reach those people with the most relevant information and visuals at each stage of the buying journey.
BadgerandDodo, a coffee roasting company, posts messages like this specifically on Mondays. These are well-timed messages that target a specific pain point. Because, I’m sure you’ll agree, who’s got the energy and excitement on a Monday morning?
#6. Optimize the user experience too
User experience refers to digital experiences with goods or services. This vast term includes such elements as website usability, stickiness, as well as product experience.
Improving user experience means making engagement with your brand seamless across all touchpoints. It means making the website easy to navigate, visuals appealing and easy to browse, and so on.
These simple tweaks can improve how customers view your product content, and in turn, boost their experience.
Want to improve product experience?
Check out how CELUM helps online stores make content work.