Visually rich social content produces ‘shoppable’ experiences for retailers

Discussion
Photo: Burberry/Instagram
Nov 14, 2018

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is an excerpt of a current article from the Retail TouchPoints website.

Visually oriented platforms, led for now by Instagram, are helping retailers generate traffic, brand awareness and more sales on social channels.

Some of Instagram’s strong growth potential comes from the platform’s efforts to improve “shoppability,” an area where social networks as a whole have lagged. As many as 78 percent of retailers in the apparel, department store, big box and specialty sectors — and 41 percent of 400+ brands — have shoppable Instagram accounts, according to the 2018 Gartner L2 Social Platforms and Influencers Intelligence Report. That compares to 17 percent of brands and 29 percent of retailers with shoppable Facebook pages.

Burberry is one of the latest retailers to launch an Instagram campaign to reach younger consumers. On the seventeenth day of every month, limited-edition releases will be made available for 24 hours on Instagram. The items will not be available in stores or on Burberry.com.

“Culturally, there’s the idea of FOMO, or getting in on something while you can,” said Laura Davis-Taylor, principal consultant of Retail Experience Strategy at HighStreet Collective, in an interview. “It’s 24 hours and you’re out.”

Instagram in June launched IGTV, supporting longer-form videos that could be a major selling point for retailers seeking more context exposure.

During a Gartner L2 panel discussion, Scott Lux, VP of digital at Intermix, noted that retailers must have a “publishing mindset” when approaching social media, particularly given Instagram’s growth. In an age when retailers must commit to content-driven initiatives across all channels, investments in production studio talent remain imperative for retailers seeking to create compelling visuals for social channels that thrive on them.

“There’s a headline I read in an email newsletter that basically said: ‘Instagram killed the fashion magazine,’” Mr. Lux noted. “That sums up the challenge that brands are facing. Now we’re having to create ‘fashion magazine’-type content to push to our paid and organic channels through Instagram. That’s where it’s difficult, because you don’t necessarily have that editorial talent on staff and you have to make that determination — do you build to that or do you leave that to your brand partners?”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are Instagram and similar visual platforms the future of social commerce? What challenges do visually-oriented social channels place on retailers as well as the third-party wholesale brands that may sell through them?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"With social media, you need to have a purpose. Just putting out posts with images is not going to achieve the desired results."
"What if we’re framing it all wrong? (Also, why must everything be a murder metaphor?)"
"The visually rich social platforms are an outstanding forum to also build your brand, connect with the community, and build a relationship with the customer beyond the product"

Join the Discussion!

13 Comments on "Visually rich social content produces ‘shoppable’ experiences for retailers"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

Great content can be your best marketing. There has to be a balance between the overt sales message and the interesting post. The key is to make it compelling to the point where people want to share it. All marketers hope their posts are good enough to go viral. The challenge is to stand out. There are many savvy marketing teams out there who are competing for the eyes and hearts of their customers. My thought is to try and not outdo the competition, but to be different than the competition.

Chris Petersen, PhD.
Guest

A picture is worth a thousand words. Rich content can be worth 10 times more. However, the best content in the world means nothing if it isn’t seen. There are two major success factors: a.) rich content must be relevant for the target audience, and b.) put in the right place at the right time. The major challenge for both retailers and brands is “shelf life” in the fast-paced social media world. What is fresh today is stale tomorrow. There is no question that visual platforms can engage customers, but there is a cost for both rapid content creation and digital asset management across many platforms. DAM (Digital Asset Management) will be a critical discipline and technology going forward.

Joanna Rutter
Guest
3 years 6 months ago

The media-ism “[Platform] killed [thing]” cited here is so fascinating. It places a knife in one party’s hand and another party on the ground. What if we’re framing it all wrong? (Also, why must everything be a murder metaphor?) What if the story of new platforms replacing old platforms isn’t as deadly as we tell it? Think reincarnation, rebirth…This Burberry campaign is gorgeous. Very thoughtfully cast and speaks to the heart of what their customer wants. Instagram just happens to be the most effective vehicle at hand for them. To answer the question, it’s the future for now, and as always, brands that capture and nurture creators will come out on top.

Phil Masiello
Guest

I don’t know if visual content is the total future of social commerce, but it certainly is playing and will continue to play a major role. It is equivalent to a living catalog that used to come in the mail.

Certainly the ability to see the product you are buying in a lifestyle setting is advantageous to the consumer. But the content has to be done correctly to support the brand image. Retailers who are not adept at social media and content creation and curation will struggle with finding their visual voice.

With social media, you need to have a purpose. Just putting out posts with images is not going to achieve the desired results.

Charles Dimov
Guest

Yes, Instagram and other social platforms that are visual are a part of the future of retail. Social commerce is still young, but more people are starting to use it, as it is visually lush (ideal for fashion, cosmetics, luxury…).

Where L2 found that 41 percent of brands have a shoppable Instagram site, the just released Omni-2000 research of 2000+ retailers found that only 14 percent have shoppable Instagram sites. It seems that retailers have some work to do to catch up! I think for retailers, part of the challenge (perhaps explaining this lag) is that they are often dependent on the brands to get product imagery — and for Instagram and other visual platforms, you will need quite a bit of visually stunning photography (that is unique).

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

Yes instagram is incredibly valuable for retailers who do focus on the efforts described above. In addition, we have had tremendous success inserting video email messages into the marketing plan of retailers whom we have consulted. These weekly or biweekly emails feature a 20 to 35 second video of an excited personality from the store, on the floor, featuring some new product(s) with invitations to come and see. This email with video (and very minor copy under the video) appears “above the fold” to minimize having to scroll down endlessly.

Ralph Jacobson
Guest

I am still really curious where social platforms will be in five years. Five years. Today that seems like an eternity, and anyone who predicts that far out is kidding themselves in this accelerating world. The question is not only around which platforms will be thriving, if any (because I personally envision a rapidly increasing boredom with the whole thing), but also where commerce will be playing a role. I think commerce will be more marketplace web app-based as they are predominantly moving towards today.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

I make a distinction between advertising/marketing and sharing. Somebody sharing a thought or an opinion or a “like” of some kind is born of a genuine or authentic point of view. A paid shill is still a paid shill, not necessarily an influencer. Yes, they get the eyeballs and therefore impact sales. That’s part of the way the world works these days. Yes, I am a Baby Boomer and I don’t interact with social media the way millions of other consumers do. I just want “real” and “authentic” and “genuine” to still count.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

The future is now, and the percentage of sales being driven from Instagram and social sites are on the rise. The visually rich social platforms are an outstanding forum to also build your brand, connect with the community, and build a relationship with the customer beyond the product itself. Shopping and engaging with brands has become a 24/7 proposition, and is not limited to brick-and-mortar and e-commerce/mobile apps.

Things are dynamically changing as brands are taking an increasingly direct-to-consumer path via Instagram, eliminating the middleman and engaging directly with consumers, which has traditionally been dominated by the wholesale/retail model.

The challenges for both retailers and brands are to remain authentic, and choose their influencers and micro-influencers wisely without overextending themselves.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust
There is no denying the power of visual platforms but, when it comes to unlocking their full potential, digital anthropology may be more important than savvy marketing. Instagram, et. al. — at least in the minds of the users — did not grow up as commercial sites. The were places for individuals to show off, keep a visual record of the trivial and the profound in their lives and … oh, yes … keep a photographic log of everything one ate. So … while sales off these sites may be significant today, my bet is that people will keep migrating away from the most blatantly, “camouflage commercial,” sites in the same way users migrated from MySpace to Facebook and from Facebook to Instagram. Maybe it should have been obvious to users that these platforms were commercial from the beginning, but it wasn’t. So — longterm — it seems there are a couple of viable options for branders — keep hopping from site to site or establish platforms that are clearly commercial from the beginning so… Read more »
Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust
Ricardo Belmar
Retail Transformation Thought Leader, Advisor, & Strategist
3 years 6 months ago

Visual platforms are great marketing tools for retailers, but we are still at the dawn of the commerce age for these platforms as relatively low adoption rates seem to prove today. While I believe this is just the beginning and we will definitely see growth here, it’s still early to tell how successful this channel will be compared to others. The challenge will be in retailers’ ability to generate a constant flow of fresh, appealing content for these mediums, but so far we are seeing many examples that prove there is a strong future here.

Cate Trotter
Guest
I feel like this is pretty obvious stuff. The article mentions how Facebook pages don’t have such a high rate of shopability, but that is because visual content lends itself towards this far more and Facebook pages are not built in that way. At the end of the day retailers should be making the most of all opportunities to reach customers and visual content is a great one. People love browsing Instagram for inspiration and trends, and if they see something they like, it should be a matter of course that they can click and buy it then and there … not have to go online or in-store and try to find it. Equally, retailers should be thinking how to make the most of visual content in-stores as well. If customers are getting inspired by Instagram then they’re increasingly going to be going in-store with images from the site to try and find the products to try on — staff need to have a way to deal with those requests. It’s not good enough to… Read more »
Ken Morris
BrainTrust
Ken Morris
Managing Partner Cambridge Retail Advisors
3 years 6 months ago

For visual products, Instagram has quickly become the go-to source for consumers looking for design ideas. This has propelled the social commerce opportunities for Instagram and retailers have jumped on the bandwagon. While Instagram is the hottest social media platform for visual images and products, other platforms may be better suited for more complex or technical products. For consumers looking for more details and research, Facebook still has an advantage for certain products. This model challenges retailers to publish or die. What better way to leverage their marketing spend.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"With social media, you need to have a purpose. Just putting out posts with images is not going to achieve the desired results."
"What if we’re framing it all wrong? (Also, why must everything be a murder metaphor?)"
"The visually rich social platforms are an outstanding forum to also build your brand, connect with the community, and build a relationship with the customer beyond the product"

Take Our Instant Poll

How confident are you that Instagram will become an established channel for e-commerce over the next two to three years?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...