Creating Endless Store Shelves Using Visual Technology Platforms
As a shopper marketer, I'm always interested in learning more about how shopper technology (shoptech) is changing the way people shop. There is a huge amount of technology available to shoppers today, some of it useful and some not so much.
I've found the best way to evaluate #shoptech is to actively use it over the course of several weeks and see if it actually adds utility to my shopping experience.
To better understand the potential for digital platforms, we create real-world use cases through our Content+Commerce Consulting work at KatadhinCo and partner with our influencer community to test real world use cases as part of shopper content creation. Usually, its easy to see if there are real uses or if a piece of shoptech is just a shiny penny that doesn't make the shopper's journey better. We've been doing this ever since we gave the Walmart Elevenmoms Flipcams in 2008 to record and share their shopping trips and create authentic content marketing based on experiences.
Lately we've been experimenting with 360 image technology which thanks to Google Streetview, Facebook 360 photos and some other players is getting infinitely easier in terms of consumer content creation. I decided to try making a couple images on my summer roadtrip #RonRoadTrip to better understand how to use the technology (the whole road trip was designed to be a content creation experiment). I made my first 360 image using the iPhone panoramic feature hiking with Ted Rubin in Aspen and it was just ok. Jennifer Hoverstad saw my post on Facebook and suggested I used Google Steetview (see how well social media works when you engage? #RonR). My next picture was much better, I created a 360 view standing in the floor of Desolation Canyon using Streetview.
I've made more 360s as I've been at locations with some kind of interesting panorama, like the Hudson River walking path and what I found was that the images were getting great engagement on Facebook but HUGE engagement on Google. I received a message from Google a couple weeks after posting a 360 of the patio and ferris wheel at Betty Dangers Country Club in Minneapolis that the image had received over 5000 views via google maps. Perhaps one of the strongest reasons to experiment with content is to see how the platforms algorithms are going to integrate them into user experiences. Google and Facebook are both favoring content from their newer technologies in user's newsfeeds as they seek to expose more people to them and encourage adoption. Using favored technologies can greatly increase reach and engagement. For example, we've found that despite conventional wisdom that Google+ is dead, Google is aggressively favoring G+ shared content and that creating a new piece of Google+ content causes Google to instantly crawl it resulting in immediate recency.
After I posted the Hudson River 360, a brilliant social media practitioner Mark Fidelman asked a poignant question, 'do you think 360 tech will catch on and if so, for what use cases'? It's possibly the best question for any technology. I truly believe it will because it will become a part of the functionality of picture taking versus something special and stand-alone. Just like video has become so much simple to create, manipulate and share, so will 360s and VR as well. For example, the header image on this post is the original shot I took using Streetview. LinkedIn doesn't recognize it as a 360 and create the experience in its site yet (I bet it will soon) but Facebook does.
Like any good shopper marketer, I decided to go to a store and field test a commercial use to see what happens. During a shopping trip to my Harris Teeter, I captured a 360 in the produce section. The image came out great and captured the complete view of the section along with promotional displays and pricing. It's a short step to make this image shoppable and add to the home shopping capability via its Express Lane online shopping service. This would add richness to the online shopping experience and move one step closer to a true omnichannel deployment. Even better, retailers could make consumer 360s shoppable so that they could inspire others on their finds of great wines or cheese or hot deals.
We then decided to use 360s combined with influencer marketing to understand how we could create shopper media for some KatadhinCo clients. We asked sneaker protector brand ForceFieldNYC influencers to create Streetviews of their favorite sneaker walls. The results were amazing! Sneaker boutique Extra Butter's fabulous displays were brought to life via the team from Sh0eicide Squad.
London based ForceFieldNYC influencer Wordonthefeet also posted this amazing panorama from Foot Locker Brixton, UK, showing the massive collection of kicks available, all of which could easily be connected to Foot Locker's eCommerce platform through this image.
With all new technology, the question becomes one of utility for the user. This is hyper-relevant for shoppers as anything that gets in the way of shopping or requires extra steps reduces the efficiency and conversion rates. In most cases it should also fit within paths I'm already using. Shopping from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat would be infinitely easier than having to use a retailer or third party app. The ultimate expression of shopper marketing is not disrupting the shoppers natural path.
To answer Mr. Fidelman's question, Yes! I do believe that 360 image technology has a future and a great use case would be shopper marketing!
As with digital advertising, interruptions suck.
Note: ForceField is a brand of The Implus Corporation, a client of The Katadhin Company.