A recent global survey conducted by Cloudinary, the image and video platform for many top brands, has revealed that effective use of visual content in e-commerce marketing can significantly reduce product returns. The survey highlights the importance of managing visual content intelligently to enhance the buying journey for consumers and save retailers billions of dollars each year.
The Cloudinary Global E-Commerce Survey, conducted by independent research company Researchscape International, polled 2,693 consumers across Australia, Germany, the UK, and the US between March 27 and April 11, 2023. The results were weighted to be representative of the overall population by country, age, and gender.
According to the survey, detailed and realistic product images can play a crucial role in reducing returns and abandoned carts. National Retail Federation (NRF) data shows that consumers were expected to return $816 billion worth of retail merchandise in 2022. For every $1 billion in sales, the average retailer incurs $165 million in merchandise returns.
Nearly 30% of respondents reported returning goods because the products did not look as expected on the website, while 46% abandoned carts of clothing or shoes due to uncertainty about fit. The same group said they would be more likely to buy if they had access to helpful media such as 360-degree images (57%), 3D models (53%), and user-generated content (UGC) videos (50%).
“The Cloudinary survey underscores the significance of visual content in e-commerce marketing for reducing returns and enhancing customer experiences. It proves by leveraging visual marketing effectively, brands can not only engage their audience better but also save billions of dollars in return costs,” said Retail Expert, Jeanel Alvarado.
Genevieve Haldeman, VP of corporate marketing at Cloudinary, emphasized the importance of offering innovative and immersive experiences while delivering exceptional performance across all channels. She suggested that effective use of user-generated image and video content, along with innovations like 3D, 360 images, and augmented reality applications, will help brands better capture the next generation of shoppers while improving conversion rates and reducing returns.
The survey also found that 45% of online shoppers believe brands exaggerate product claims with the pictures they post. In contrast, 56% of shoppers think that visuals from other consumers provide a true depiction of what to expect from a brand. This highlights the importance of encouraging audiences to share their experiences with the brand through videos or images of purchased products.
To improve digital customer engagement and experiences, brands should consider adopting a mobile-first approach, employing user-generated content, incorporating branded video and supporting UGC video without sacrificing performance, and embracing next-gen technologies such as 3D, 360 spin sets, and augmented reality.