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GUEST COMMENT Visual content inspires tablet shoppers

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Micke Paqvalén, chief executive and founder of Kiosked , explains why today’s online shoppers are driven to purchase by interactive and image-led content.

Recent research has found that in the first half of 2013, sales of tablets in Western Europe more than doubled compared with the same period in 2012. This wide and rapid adoption of mobile and tablet devices has completely revolutionised the way consumers interact with online content and has moved the focus from text to the visual as a result. From providing news to enabling retail, visual content now plays a huge role in commerce. Photos of products are being shared across social networks and brands are using experiential and dynamic marketing videos to engage consumers on mobile.

In retail specifically, today’s reports of rising ecommerce sales show that mobile and tablets play an integral part in the purchase process for customers both on and offline. In the past, online shopping was done from the comfort of the living room, but thanks to mobile, it has now transformed into an activity where retailers have the chance to make sales at anytime, anywhere.

The shopping experience across mobile and tablet devices for the consumer is completely different to that of the traditional PC, as the highly visual features incorporated in these devices are well-suited to online retail success. Whilst the desktop share of shopping is down from 84% in 2010 to 49% in 2013, the shopping experience across tablets is proportionally rising. In addition to convenience and portability of the devices, one key reason for this is that tablets provide a shopping experience that is highly visual and more interactive than on a PC, both in terms of pictures and video.

The visual landscape

When the internet first came to the mainstream, it was largely text-based due to the amount of bandwidth required for hosting images. We’ve moved from a multitude of words to Twitter’s 140 characters, to simply images and videos, on platforms like Instagram. By creating exciting visual content for tablet and mobile, brands are moving towards engaging directly with consumers.

Now video features and 360 degree product views encourages shoppers to stay on sites for longer. Forrester Research found that a one-minute video equals 1.8 million words and a single video frame can deliver the same amount of information as three pages of text. The popularity of online video in particular continues to grow and for consumers, it’s no longer about waiting for your favourite programme to come on television; with on-demand content, people can engage with video content at anytime.

Market research has also found that users who watch a video of a product are 85% more likely to buy the product. The importance of sight, sound and motion is well known amongst brand advertisers. It can appeal to people’s emotions and entertain people the way static or text-based online advertising is unable to do.

As a response to this visual landscape, smart content is now engaging shoppers online. Smart content allows brands to turn their online visual content into a useful service, serving relevant and interesting product information to shoppers through entertaining formats. For example, when consumers see a celebrity wearing a dress in an online news article, they can instantly click on the image and buy it. If they are watching a music video on YouTube then they can click and buy the song immediately from iTunes without even having to leave the page they’re on. With so much marketing collateral out there, consumers are now wise to thinly-veiled sales messages and it’s these fun and entertaining experiences with a brand and product that will convince them to buy.

In light of this visual landscape, retailers can use images and videos to appeal to the ‘see it, want it, buy it’ mentality in order to make shopping online an engaging experience. Wherever there is impulse, there can be a shop, and using smart content, retailers can make their social and visual content shoppable. With huge scope for visual engagement across devices, retailers need to act now and implement the visual to connect with consumers on a deeper level by appealing to their emotions and quick response to imagery. When presented to consumers across multiple digital channels, brands can deliver visually appealing experiences to consumers that help drive interest, engagement and ultimately, sales.

Micke Paqvalén is chief executive and founder at Kiosked

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