Customer experience encompasses a lot of individual events. Any time a customer or potential customer interacts with your brand – from seeing your post on social media to browsing your website to ordering a product to getting it delivered – that interaction is part of their customer experience.
This experience extends beyond the moment a customer buys: any interaction with your customer support team is part of their experience, as is the process of making a return, if a return is necessary.
Today’s marketers pay a lot of attention to customer experience – and they should. Better customer experiences are correlated with higher revenue and greater profitability. But many marketers may be missing one simple way to improve nearly every aspect of the customer experience in today's visual economy: using better product imagery.
Here, we’ll break down six ways better imagery can improve customer experience for your target audience so that they return to you again and again.
1: Build Trust for Your Brand and Your Products
Shoppers won’t become customers unless they trust you. This is especially true in the world of ecommerce, where shoppers can’t pick up and inspect what you’re selling. Online retailers have to find other ways to signal the quality of their wares.
Enter product imagery. Research shows that high-quality visuals help build trust among online shoppers. When you include high-quality images in your online marketing materials, customers are more likely to trust you and make a purchase.
This means that at the very start of the customer journey, the quality of your visual content can make or break the experience.
2: Save Customers Time
Images, in other words, can communicate information faster than text. For today’s always-busy, always-multitasking shoppers, images can provide essential information about your products much faster than a detailed description could.
That makes for an efficient experience that fits seamlessly into your audience’s lives. And when you cultivate convenient experiences, you demonstrate that you understand what your customers want and need, which deepens their trust in your brand.
3: Solve Customer Problems
Making purchase decisions can be hard, especially for big-ticket items: customers don’t want to spend their money if the product isn’t going to provide exactly what they want.
This difficulty is compounded in ecommerce settings, where shoppers can’t physically interact with the products they’re thinking of buying.
The right imagery can help here. If, for example, you’re selling a product with many possible configurations (a sofa with 16 possible fabrics, a build-it-yourself engagement ring), you can use pre-rendered images generated with virtual photography or real-time interactive 3D to show shoppers exactly what their configuration will look like.
Offering these types of images can relieve the burden of uncertainty customers feel when customizing items in an online store and give them the confidence that they’re making the right purchase when they do decide to buy.
4: Make Online Shopping Engaging and Enjoyable
Online shopping has long been a favorite of people who don’t much care for in-store shopping, but most brands haven’t bothered to offer much beyond convenience.
With the right product imagery, though, you can create online shopping experiences that are actually enjoyable – the kinds of experiences that customers might look forward to in the way they’d look forward to a trip to their favorite clothing retailer, for example.
For example, if you include an augmented reality function on your website, you can let customers determine whether your kitchen appliances will fit on their counter or whether your armchair will fit in their living room.
Another example: if your brand boasts about its sustainability, you could offer a virtual reality tour of the plant where your goods are manufactured, highlighting the sustainable practices you follow there.
These experiences are distinct from what shoppers experience in store and offer customers a reason other than convenience to shop from home. When online shopping itself is enjoyable, customers are likely to repeat the experience often, increasing the likelihood that they’ll keep buying from you.
5: Reduce Unpleasant Surprises
Nothing ruins a customer experience like opening a package to find a product that doesn’t match what the customer wanted and expected.
Most retailers would agree that this is an unacceptable customer experience, and yet 22 percent of product returns happen because the product a customer received didn’t match the one they ordered.
Ecommerce brands can reduce the likelihood that a customer will have an unpleasant surprise when their package arrives in the mail by providing adequate product imagery. Today, that means at least five to eight images of every product. Those images should include product shots from every angle, as well as lifestyle images.
If you’ve got the capability, it might make sense to stitch still images into a 360-degree rotation.
The more visual information you can provide customers, the better they’ll understand what they’re buying from you, and the less likely they’ll be to have the unpleasant experience of getting something they don’t want in the mail.
6: Reduce the Frustration of Returns
Getting something other than what you expect is disappointing, and returning a product to an online retailer can be wildly frustrating. Online shoppers hate returns: 88 percent note that a retailer’s return policy influences where they’ll even shop.
By providing images that show customers exactly what they’ll get when they hit “buy,” you can greatly reduce the frustration of returning a product.
While all types of high-quality imagery can help prevent returns, interactive images tend to perform especially well here. Rotating 360-degree images, for example, can reduce returns by as much as 50 percent.
Better Product Imagery Makes for a Better Customer Experience
Given that as much as 65 percent of the population is made up of visual learners, it’s no surprise that better product imagery helps cultivate a better customer experience.
Brands that want to win and keep customers for the long term have to consistently communicate in ways that not only make it easy for shoppers to get the information they want and need but also make online shopping as rewarding as brick-and-mortar shopping can be.
Visual content like high-quality ecommerce images, interactive 3D, 360-degree rotations, AR, and VR can all help create the kinds of experiences that win customer trust and inspire them to return to a brand again and again.