We live in a digital world where technology constantly bombards us with information such as tweets, shares, RSS feeds and IMs which taxes our capacity to keep on top of things. In this ADD generation, who wants information served up quickly and digested before the next sparkly piece of information comes flying their way, online marketeers need to adapt. Add to this the rapid migration from desktop environment to a mobile devices reality, and you get an even greater decrease in attention spans. All this change made me keen on discovering how ecommerce was becoming more visual as a result. Let’s go over 3 of the major players in visual ecommerce, mostly serving as what we like to call in the industry – super affiliates, to big online clothing retail shops.
The beginning of the visual ecommerce phenomenon can be traced back to Pinterest. With an emphasis on visual content, users can share and promote visual ‘pins’ on ‘boards’. Many of these boards are based on niche areas e.g. best restaurants in London or best cupcake recipes, but there’s also room for businesses to sell products and a quick search for “mens coats” brings up a number of large, visual based ads for men’s coats. There’s no information overload, just the very basics to grab the user’s attention quickly.
Pinterest has proved to be very popular with the online community and it possesses a very high global rank with an astronomical number of monthly desktop visits. Engagement with visitors is very high as the 8 minute average visit and low bounce rate attests to. These figures prove very lucrative to merchants such as Net-A-Porter who have set up virtual storefronts on Pinterest to promote their products.
I decided to take a look at how much of the traffic leaving Pinterest was headed for ecommerce sites. SimilarWeb PRO advised that around 7% of outgoing links were heading to shopping based sites. The majority of this 7% was traveling to etsy.com – a site concentrating on selling vintage and handmade items. 7% may not sound like much, but you have to take into account the massive number of visitors they receive on a daily basis. Pinterest have also been marked out as having the users which spend more money than on any other social network site.
Wanelo is an online community which brings stores, products and consumers together all under one roof. With an easy to use interface, users can find the products they’re looking for within seconds and have them presented via a visual grid system as per the following search for “soccer shirts”.
If ever there were a site for the ADD generation and their shopping needs, it’s Wanelo!
Wanelo does not hold the loftiest position globally or in their category rank, but it’s a very crowded marketplace and there’s always time to improve. Monthly visits aren’t shabby at 3 million and users spend an average of 7 minutes on site with a fairly low bounce rate, which shows they have nice engagement of visitors to their site.
Almost 70% of outgoing traffic from Wanelo is towards sites making up the shopping category and this traffic is mostly spread across Etsy and Amazon. However, there is also a small distribution of outgoing traffic across other sites, mainly in the clothing sector. This indicates that Wanelo have focused all their energies into the shopping category and help to stimulate consumers behavior in the blinkered outlook of the ADD generation. This coupled with the simplistic and visual interface, allow Wanelo to provide instant satisfaction and increase conversion rates for their clients, while taking home healthy finder’s fees.
Polyvore is a unique social community mainly aimed at a female demographic which allows users to create ‘sets’ of products with specific themes e.g. a kitchen theme. This innovative approach interests other users and allows a sense of sharing and validation of shopping choices. It’s a purely visual approach which allows users to see everything in one place rather than clicking from one page to the next e.g. from kettles to cupboards to cutlery. Polyvore also has a standard shopping portal which is broken down into clear subjects such as bags.
SimilarWeb PRO shows that Polyvore record a decent global rank and a good category rank in shopping. Their engagement with viewers is effective with the average visit lasting 8 minutes and 5 pages being viewed per visit. The average number of monthly visits is close to 18 million and the simplistic and innovative approach to displaying products contributes towards this success.
Over 50% of visitors to Polyvore leave the site to head to another site in the shopping category. This behavior indicates that Polyvore play a key role in initiating the conversion process for these sites. The outgoing traffic is spread across a wide number of sites and shows that Polyvore are wary of committing to one or two main affiliates. Again, Polyvore have proven that the attractiveness of hassle free, visual based content is very important to consumers and ensures a steady stream of traffic.
Visualizing the future
My findings have shown that ecommerce platforms utilizing simplistic, upfront and visual formats are proving very successful in engaging customers and driving traffic to merchants. This approach is influencing the ADD generation to demand immediate action which, in turn, speeds up the conversion process. However, the average visit time to these websites is just under 8 minutes which is a very long time online. This perhaps indicates that there is still room for ecommerce to increase its efficiency – I found, for example, that Pinterest could be a little fiddly and took several clicks to reach the merchant when one click was surely enough. The web is definitely evolving based upon the needs of the ADD generation and I believe that other sites such as Amazon – who look very old fashioned in comparison – will begin to adopt this stylistic change in the near future.