Today’s shopper has access to an overwhelming surplus of information. How can consumers find the products they want to buy? Search. The internet is optimized to help people find what they’re looking for — but what if they just want some inspiration?

Let’s say they’re shopping for a new lamp for their living room. Searching for the word “lamp” will bring you the wikipedia page for the software bundle LAMP (not helpful) as well as some obvious retailers that sell actual lamps. It’s efficient, but not the best way to brainstorm ideas.

A better way? Inspire people by sharing compelling lifestyle imagery on platforms like Instagram. But that imagery is not typically connected to places of commerce — often causing confusion. What good is that image of a desert-chic living room if you can only shop the couch, not the entire room’s worth of products? Nothing kills that moment of inspiration quite like leading the consumer to a sterile e-comm site that features boring product images shot against flat white backdrops.

Amazon is absolutely crushing the online shopping experience for those who are browsing rather than seeking out one product with laser focus. Amazon’s Interesting Finds feature is essentially an online lookbook of cool products. It includes categories such as Fun, Workspace, Little Kids, Mid-Century and Gadgets. Within each section, you’ll find novel items that are practical, fashionable and even a little wacky.

Pinterest is another company promoting discovery over search. It curates constantly-evolving images based on what the viewer has pinned or clicked on. The discoverability factor is super strong, which has a huge impact on brands’ bottom lines. In fact, 87% of Pinners have purchased a product because of Pinterest and 93% of active Pinners use the site to plan for purchases.

But commerce experiences usually aren’t so great. Recently, I found a photo of a chic reading nook styled to perfection. The company provided a link to the cute side table, but what about the amazing gold vase holding fresh flowers? What about the dreamy white curtains diffusing the light? I don’t particularly need a side table, vase or curtains, but I love the look of the reading nook because of the smaller accessories. Surely this home shopping platform wouldn’t style a room with products from a competitor … so where can I buy the items I like? Instead of a user-friendly shopping experience, I’m suddenly searching on page seven of the retailer’s large collection of vases. So I did what many other shoppers do, abandoned my purchase.

But don’t fear, there are companies making the shopping experience much more seamless. Take Wayfair for example. Different stoppable blog posts cover specific topics (Mid-Century Staples That Work in Any Home) featuring images that serve as both inspo and product discovery tools. Wayfair’s discovery feature makes it easy for the shopper to fall down a home decor rabbit hole — which is great for Wayfair, because increased time on site means more chances that a person will buy. Loving the rug in a featured image, even though the blog post is talking about the chairs? Simply click into that image, and tag buttons will lead you to multiple rugs in a similar style.

This is the kind of discoverability makes for a fun, engaging shopper experience. In the end, Wayfair invites you to spend tons of time on their site with their endless supply of shopper inspiration.

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Curalate helped European luxury fashion retailer Farfetch power discovery and conversion at scale, launching an e-commerce experience leveraging fan photos and removing friction in the buying journey. Read all about it here.

At Curalate, we help brands move customers from product discovery to purchases. Request a demo today.