It’s no secret that, in recent years, retailers have been challenged to keep customers loyal and remain competitive. For brands who want to stay ahead of the times, technology is key. For retailers struggling to stay relevant in an increasingly crowded online space, utilizing technologies like shoppable content and user-generated content is critical. Today’s shoppers expect retailers to provide them with a personalized online shopping experience and, should they fail to do so, consumers often look elsewhere to make their purchases. By leveraging content innovations retailers can provide a superior online experience and sow the foundations for long-lasting brand loyalty.
User-Generated Content in a Nutshell
User-generated content (UGC)comes in many shapes and sizes, enabling each retailer to utilize whatever form best benefits their brand. UGC can be as simple as a blog post, a product review, or user-submitted images and videos on a social channel. With the increased use of social media, retailers have unlimited access to customers’ positive sentiment on their products or brand, offering a two-way conversation and providing an authentic purchase journey.
Leveraging UGC allows retailers to influence consumers in many ways – but the best is arguably via increased purchase rates. A retailer can collect UGC from Instagram, for example, tag the products that are featured and then republish to their website so that visitors can see the posts. Similarly, brands can create media galleries on their sites, which are built by content created by social media followers. These colorful additions help foster engagement and drive conversations throughout the customer journey. Additionally, UGC enables companies to reach a wider audience by tapping into the viral nature of social media. For example, retailers who share a photo from a celebrity consumer can help drive sales because the brand and/or product has essentially been endorsed by this public figure.
The Importance of Content
As mentioned above, user generated content is extremely valuable in today’s retail industry because of the popularity of social media. Social media use is increasing at a record pace, with 500 million people actively using Instagram each month according to the company. The content which is created and shared across Instagram and across other channels represents an opportunity for retailers to tap into conversations and effectively reach their users by learning about their demands and interests. As the younger generation—known as Gen Z—become key targets for retailers, engaging with them via social media will be a critical step to stay relevant. The younger buyers are fixated on their smartphones, constantly surfing the Internet and social media, and generating huge amounts of content that is being shared across channels. Engaging with these young buyers through UGC is increasingly important now because brand loyalty is harder to come by in the digital era. With the vast variety of online shops, the younger demographic knows that, with just the click of a button, they can find the same product on another website. Therefore, companies need to interact with their customers in new and engaging ways to instill a sense of customer loyalty and, in turn, boost sales.
Shopping with Shoppable Content
Another critical piece of technology for retailers to remain relevant is shoppable content—in other words, the ability for consumers to purchase directly from a piece of content. Shoppable content can be as simple as a buy-button pin on a Pinterest photo or as specific and customized as an image on a retailer’s site.
As retailers look to engage their customers and show them an incredible online shopping experience, shoppable content has become important to providing a personalized, smooth customer journey. For instance, what shopper doesn’t want to see an outfit that is recommended for them right when they browse their favorite online store? By enabling the customer to add the item to their cart simply by clicking on the image the brand eliminates a major step in the purchase journey.
Not only is this technology important for the customers’ sake but it also has the potential to increase sales, as well. Online shopping is all about accessibility and efficiency, however, if a retailer can complement that with a personalized experience, the shopper is bound to shop with them again. By utilizing shoppable content and UGC, retailers are encouraging brand loyalty
James Brooke, CEO & Founder of Amplience