The Hidden Market For Impulse Buying

09/26/2017 01:18 pm ET
How much is too much?
Credit: DMN
How much is too much?

Time and place are vital to attracting customers, but often that window is incredibly short. Gum sales are down nearly 20% in the last two years. Why? Because when we’re in line at the grocery store, we’re looking at our phone and not at the impulse buy opportunities around us. Or better yet, we’re having our groceries delivered.

But as old opportunities fade, new opportunities are created. Customers are on their phone, everywhere, always. The new source of impulse buys is now mobile.

If you see a shirt, pair of shoes, couch, anything and are inspired to make a purchase, that moment quickly fades if you don’t know how to find it. But what if AI allowed you to find that item instantly from your phone? It would obviously make you more inclined to make that purchase. And that’s where the hidden market for impulse buys exists.

With mobile’s rise in popularity, social media became the new way for customers to share product information, comments, and reviews. Retailers began investing heavily in social as it evolved into one of the best (and most direct) ways to engage customers and hopefully influence buying behavior.

But to find success on social, barriers must be reduced. As consumers, we don’t typically notice when we are seamlessly being directed from an experience to a purchase, but we almost always notice when that navigation is choppy or not intuitive. For ecommerce consumers, having to do something that feels or seems inconvenient is the giant red stoplight on the path to purchase.

Making social images shoppable through AI is the bridge between social media and ecommerce that’s needed to overcome these barriers. Images no longer have to be just an inspiration, but instead are the first touchpoint in the shopper journey, making consumers more likely to purchase.

Fashion giants like ASOS are now using similar technology to drastically improve their customer experience and stay ahead of other brands. DIY retailers like Home Depot or Lowe’s could create integrated projects on social that would allow people to purchase everything needed to create the exact outcome—all without having to ask your father-in-law for advice!

“Visual search offers a significant benefit to consumers and is changing how they shop. From the moment a customer is interested by an item seen online, the technology immediately presents exact or like products available for purchase. This takes the time and frustration out of searching for a product online and creates a seamless path to purchase, improving the overall customer experience,” said Oliver Tan, Co-founder and CEO, ViSenze. “And the benefits are available for retailers as well, as products like ViSenze create new opportunities to monetize content no matter where it lives. User generated images on social accounts and videos and static images on websites suddenly become new revenue streams, opening up fiscal benefits outside of those traditionally offered through ecommerce platforms.”

Though taken for granted now, there was once a time when we couldn’t find answers to a lot of things that are now readily available to us. Who is that actress? IMDB handles this question in seconds. What was the score of the game? It can be found on the ESPN app at any time in the day. We are at a similar point now with items we see and like. Five years from now we will look back and wonder how people survived without being able to see a sick pair of kicks, or a dress, or a couch, and not know how to instantly buy it.

"Visual search is fast becoming a mainstream path for search and discovery, and also an underlying catalyst for better AI-based recommendations and personalization. Only AI, combined with computer vision, has the ability to handle the influx of visual data available today - machines can now be used in various ways to detect, recognize, search, and understand billions of images and videos within seconds. The rise in popularity of visual search, paired with the ease and efficiency of the technology, is causing it to become the natural expectation of shoppers everywhere."

Progress. It’s amazing. And now every company can use this to turn thought, impulse, intrigue in to transactions. The phone is the new supermarket aisle.

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