Will image shopping jumpstart m-commerce?

Photo: Google
Apr 18, 2017

Google, Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest have all recently released upgraded features to help support mobile shopping.

Google last week introduced “style ideas” within Image Search that lets users see how a fashion item they’re looking at can be paired with other items. An example showed how a purse from Zara would look with a jacket, boots and a hijab.

Google wrote on its blog, “That means whether you’re researching shorts and sneakers or checking out sunglasses and handbags, you’ll be able to find product offerings that may suit your tastes.”

Snapchat last week introduced Snap to Store, a geofilter that retailers can sponsor that lets retailers measure foot traffic. A geofilter lets Snapchat users choose an overlay for their photos that’s only available in specific locations. When Snapchatters use the retailer-specific overlay and share it in their story, Snap analyzes whether those Snapchat ads are driving Snapchat users — or their followers — to the store.

Wendy’s, 7-Eleven and Paramount Pictures were among the early beta testers. Said Brandon Rhoten, head of advertising, digital, social and media at Wendy’s, in a statement, “Foot traffic into our restaurants is the best measurement of short-term sales success for any program — we want more ad tech like this.”

In late March, Instagram expanded Instagram Shopping, which lets retailers add product information and links to their photos. The feature had been in test-mode since November with Kate Spade, Lulu’s, Macy’s and Warby Parker.

Mary Beech, EVP and marketing at Kate Spade, said in a statement that it allows her customers “to seamlessly tap and shop the product — going from inspiration to information to purchase in just a few steps.”

In early February, Pinterest introduced Shop the Look, which enables users to click on individual items in photos to purchase them. If they’re not for sale, similar items will be shown through the network. Pinterest wrote, “When they’re ready to buy, customers can check out right on Pinterest, or click through to buy things directly from the retailer.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see image-click-to-sales taking off on smartphones? Will photo sharing sites (Instagram, Pinterest), social sites (Facebook, Snapchat) or search engines (Google) be the largest drivers of m-commerce?

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"The paradigm continues to shift to mobility-based applications, more instant gratification, easier navigability and more efficient shopping."

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10 Comments on "Will image shopping jumpstart m-commerce?"

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Ralph Jacobson

The world of m-commerce driven by images and eventually video will explode as AI takes hold in this realm. Intelligent “tagging” of images is now building a presence with innovative merchants. AI is also now helping to identify images that are relevant to particular shoppers which also assists real-time personalization. Further, intelligent image sequencing on websites can further promote products that the merchant prioritizes to highlight to shoppers via mobile. This is big and it will continue to grow.

Max Goldberg

What took them so long? Consumers have wanted to make purchase from within apps like Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest for a while. This technology could be the breakthrough that the sites, and consumers, have been waiting for.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)

Visual is the language of retail. Product labels, promotional messages, product images and other visuals in the marketing arsenal inspire, compel and influence. 1 + 1 = 11 when images and a point-of-decision come together. Add to this native advertising and mobile commerce takes on a whole new level of importance. Add video (beyond photos) that puts product use into context and the images really add value to the retailer/brand.

Bob Amster

With certain growing demographics like Millennials and moving forward, this technology certainly has appeal and will garner increasing sales. The paradigm continues to shift to mobility-based applications, more instant gratification, easier navigability and, in the end, more efficient shopping.

Brandon Rael

Absolutely 100 percent! Honestly the world of m-commerce is waiting to explode beyond what it is today. While there are mobile image sharing and fashion startup mobile commerce apps emerging, and it has taken off to an extent, the momentum will truly build once the larger platforms (Google, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) decide to maximize their customer reach and turn the personalization and commerce engines on.

If we thought the Millennial generation was mobile-first and a digital native group, what the industry is labeling Generation Z is even more receptive to image sharing, building a community and driving a personalized experience via their mobile apps. As we read about the retail brick-and-mortar, department store and mall apocalypse, in the background the world of m-commerce is taking off.

If digital-first retailers take full advantage of a loyal fan base who are image conscious and have a desire to build cultivated and personalized experience with their friends, then perhaps the strategic brick-and-mortar locations could essentially serve as the showrooming experience to complete their purchases.

Adrian Weidmann

Image-click purchase will further amplify the digital shopping landscape. I personally could have used this capability numerous times. Images (photo and video) + search + social media + e-commerce = big money. This is a natural evolution of digital technologies (both software and hardware) and will be a welcome addition to almost any market segment. They’ll be plenty of errors and miscues along the way but as the technology matures and is augmented by VR/AR and AI the possibilities are endless. Brick-and-mortar retailers pay attention as this capability evolves and takes hold — and it will! The physical will become even more marginalized unless they meet this head-on and figure out how to leverage this capability to their advantage.

Dave Nixon
Dave Nixon
Retail Solutions Executive, Teradata
5 years 1 month ago

Image-click WILL drive sales because it streamlines the process during the search phase and is much easier to navigate on phones versus product descriptions, attributes, etc. Bring the “buy” button up further into the path to purchase!

Next up is video. One-click buying on smartphones and smart TVs is coming to a device near you.

Charles Dimov

Exciting developments that will definitely make an impact on retail. Specifically with Millennials and Generation Z already being the most important retail spending groups, the wave of m-commerce is merely a matter of timing. Better yet, connecting m-commerce to pickup in-store makes sense — since it is all going to be about instant gratification. When you see something you want on social you click and can pick it up within an hour or two while running errands, or en route home from work/school. Glad to see social selling heating up!

Min-Jee Hwang

Without a doubt, image-click-to-sales will gain traction on smartphones. Given how much time is already spent with our eyes glued to our smartphones, it’s inevitable that image shopping will take off. Integrations such as these only streamline the purchasing process and simplify the whole journey. As for whether photo sharing sites or search engines will come up on top, I believe the former will triumph simply because we’re already on those sites/apps.

Michael Spencer
I’ve been following social commerce closely for years; UGC was one of the most authentic ways to leverage social influencers in a customer-centric way. However, mobile commerce never took off in any major way. Pinterest has turned into more of a visual search site; if YouTube has turned into the premier video search site. Instagram for all its personal brand glory, doesn’t convert — it’s a brand discovery channel. As such mobile commerce via social is a dream. Augmented reality could help, but for conversion to take place you’d need e-commerce to mature with next-gen VR experiences to create the required immersion and product “experience.” VR could replace in-store showrooming, but not in its current state. Instagram is flashy, Pinterest is useful, but consumers don’t use those channels for shopping; they are inspirational in nature. Advertizing is one thing; buying is quite another. Starting an e-commerce business is one of the hardest in the world for a reason! Shoppers still delight in stores. Until tech catches up with reality (which is coming); you cannot mimic… Read more »
"The paradigm continues to shift to mobility-based applications, more instant gratification, easier navigability and more efficient shopping."

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