In the evolving digital landscape, brands are in constant competition to win viewership and loyalty. Visual communications channels have changed how buyers discover, form opinions about, engage with and ultimately shop for products online.

What does it all mean? Curalate CEO Apu Gupta took the stage at’s Retail’s Digital Summit in Dallas along with Z Gallerie CMO Chris Nicklo to discuss the future of e-commerce and online discovery.

Online discovery is not nearly as natural as offline discovery. If you go to the grocery store to buy milk, bread and cheese — then see a jar of pickles — you can put them in your cart and purchase them. Going from discovery to purchase is that simple. Online, it’s much more frustrating. If a friend is wearing a plaid blazer in a Facebook photo, you might be inspired to buy it, but doing so will be really difficult. Which company made the blazer? How much does it cost? How can I purchase it? Those questions will likely lead to frustration — not a fancy new blazer.

“With a camera today in everybody’s pocket and a place to broadcast themselves, we’re living in an era of unprecedented creativity. All that content that’s being created on these channels is nothing short of inspirational. Which means that everywhere we turn today, there’s an opportunity to discover,” said Gupta during the September 27 talk titled Exhibitor BIG Ideas: The Power of Visual eCommerce: Personalize Discovery to Drive Sales and Loyalty.

Inspiration matters. It’s where consumers start their buying journeys — and many of them don’t care which brands they ultimately buy from. In fact, 90 percent of mobile users aren’t brand committed when they begin those buying journeys.

In this example of a kitchen photo on Instagram, a viewer is inspired to learn more about the barstools but is likely to get frustrated.


“Images and videos have no awareness of what’s inside of them,” said Gupta. “When somebody posts a photo on Instagram, the image can’t tell you what’s inside of it. If you’re a consumer, where does that leave you? It leaves you wondering and forces you to figure it out for yourself.”

So what’s a consumer to do? Search for “barstools” on Google? That’s not going to help and will probably lead the consumer to that brand’s competitor.

“There are a lot of choices for consumers today and the more barriers we put between discovery and action, the harder it’s going to be for a consumer to take any action,” said Gupta.

3 Brands Connecting Discovery and Action

How do we take these moments of discovery and use them to drive action? That’s where organizations like Curalate are crucial. We’re giving brands the ability to make their images and videos “intelligent” — meaning they’re aware of the products or services inside them. Then we help brands distribute that visual content on a number of consumer touchpoints.

1. Fashion brand Forever 21 launched Curalate’s Like2Buy product which makes its popular Instagram account shoppable. Within the first two weeks, the results were astounding: It brought 38,000 people to their website, and 50% of those people were brand new visitors. Those people stayed on site 24% longer and they looked at 19% more web pages during their visits.


2. Iconic fashion retailer Guess uses Curalate’s actionable images in their app. Sure, the company creates beautiful content but it has a short shelf-life on social media. They wanted to figure out how they could infuse that content into an environment that leads to commerce.

“By being able to attach the product data to those images then programmatically insert them into their app, Guess created a whole new experience — driving people to discovery and ultimately to purchase.”


3. Z Gallerie — which bills itself as a fashion brand for the home — partnered with Curalate for a number of initiatives, like productizing inspiring imagery from fans to help people envision how its products will look in their own homes. The editorial, lifestyle imagery (rather than boring product images shot on a white background) is much more valuable to consumers.

“Most of us aren’t stylists or interior designers so to be able to see how these products come together in a fully realized look gets you over that hurdle from ‘this is a really cool product’ to ‘wow, I can really see how this fits into my life,’ ” said Gupta.

Z Gallerie

Want to learn more about turning discovery into action? Check out the Curalate Summit on October 18. It’s a unique and exciting gathering of leading industry brands and executives. Attendees will learn visual marketing best practices from executives at the world’s largest brands such as Neiman Marcus, Crate & Barrel, Apartment Therapy and BaubleBar. Learn more here.