This article was originally published by Global Marketing Alliance, a U.K.-based organization that helps help data driven marketers drive value for their businesses.

With two little girls at home, the ability to get out of the house is pretty limited, so I do most of our grocery shopping online through Instacart. But when I do need a break, I happily volunteer to pick up what we need at the local Whole Foods. And what I found over a few trips fascinated me. Consistently, I spend roughly twice as much when I shop in store as when I buy online. And that has everything to do with what stores are great at: discovery.

For all of the talk of the decline of brick-and-mortar and the rapid growth of e-commerce, there is one area where physical shops excel — unintended purchases. Nearly 80% of shoppers admit to making impulse buys during an in-store visit. Online, only 19% of us stumble upon something we weren’t looking for and decide to buy. I may have walked into H&M looking to pick up a pair of jeans but, as I browse the aisles, I may find a pair of shoes or a T-shirt that will go well with the jeans. Online, I’m going straight to the jeans section on the website, finding my size and hitting ‘Buy.’

Online shopping is great if you know what you’re looking for, but there’s really no equivalent of browsing the aisles and discovering things you didn’t know you needed in your life. Many brands have not figured out how to recreate online the inspiration and emotion that so often leads to unintended purchases. Products are usually featured on their own against a white background with no connection to related items. Shopping is often an emotional experience, but too many e-commerce sites are killing the mood.

UGC, user generated content, Dune London, shoes, buy, shop, commerce, tech, startup, lifestyle, content, media, image, visual marketing, visual commerce, social shopping

UGC, user generated content, Dune London, shoes, buy, shop, commerce, tech, startup, lifestyle, content, media, image, visual marketing, visual commerce, social shopping

Check out Dune London’s shoppable gallery of fan content in action. The top image shows the gallery, the bottom image shows the experience when you click on a specific image.

The Power of UGC and Lifestyle Imagery

One way brands have tackled this online inspiration gap is by using user generated content (UGC) and lifestyle imagery featuring their products in real-world scenarios across all of their marketing channels – their website, social channels, ads and emails. UGC allows consumers to imagine how particular products would fit into their lives, giving them the confidence and ‘social proof’ to make the purchase. It’s not enough to see a pair of shoes, to know their size or the type of metal used for the buckle. You need to be able to see how they would look with different outfits and know that other people are wearing them.

Dune London’s latest marketing campaign – #aloveaffairwith – is a great example of this. The footwear retailer wanted content that would not only help consumers envision Dune footwear in their lives, but also wanted to turn that inspiration into action by making all of the products featured in the images fully shoppable. This is where consumers click on an item of interest in the image to be taken straight to the correct product page on the website. The brand went one step further, providing shoppable video functionality when consumers accessed the campaign’s series of short films via mobile.

We worked with Dune London to help it feature shoppable lifestyle content on product pages. The retailer increased sales where UGC played a part in the transaction by 82% within two weeks after the content went live.

UGC, user generated content, Dune London, shoes, buy, shop, commerce, tech, startup, lifestyle, content, media, image, visual marketing, visual commerce, social shopping

Dune London product pages now feature inspirational lifestyle content — an experience powered by Curalate.

A recent email campaign featuring Dune’s ‘Your Style’ gallery of content created by its customers and bloggers saw a 55% increase in click-throughs compared to previous emails not featuring UGC. The result? A six-fold increase in revenue generated by the gallery.

Over the course of three months, Dune London saw a 28% higher conversion rate among shoppers who engaged with UGC during their shopping journey, while average order values grew by 17% during the same period.

Brands have long created lifestyle imagery or featured user generated content in their marketing. The problem is that the consumer – inspired by what they had seen – was then left to go and search for the products on their own.

Making that inspirational content shoppable shortens the distance between discovery and purchase and allows brands to introduce additional products that consumers didn’t know they were looking for. This builds a stronger emotional connection between the brand and the consumer, which leads to more products purchased – both planned and unplanned – and higher overall revenue. Our statistics across more than 800 brands show a lift in average order value of 16% and a 45% increase in revenue from consumers who interact with shoppable, lifestyle content.

By enabling consumers to browse the aisles of an e-commerce site in the way they would a store, smart brands will make sure that the shopper who comes to their site for the jeans, also picks up the shoes and the T-shirt.

Curalate helps more than 800 of the world’s leading brands sell online more effectively by creating compelling commerce experiences that adapt to how consumers discover products. On average, our clients achieve: 79% increases in time-on-site, 16% jumps in average order value and 31% increases in conversion rate.

What can Curalate do for your business? Contact us to find out.