Last Updated

Last Updated

In a recent study, Eurostat reported a 12% rise in the number of companies increasing their efforts to sell more online. With an ever-increasing amount of companies embracing selling online and competition getting fiercer by the day, how can Irish eCommerce websites stand out?

For Irish retailers who had built their entire business models around the in-store experience, Covid-19 was a life-changing challenge. Overnight, the in-person customer experience they’d built up was now being labelled as a health risk, or an irresponsible way of conducting business.

It was a sobering time for traditional retailers. They needed to adopt an entirely new way of selling, while still trying to maintain the core values of their established brand.

For many traditional retailers, virtual shop tours during the pandemic provided solace by allowing customers to retain a certain degree of connection to their physical stores — while still following health guidelines.

However, the rushed way in which some of these were set up has resulted in some virtual tours not benefiting retailers in the way they should.

So, how exactly can you get the most out of virtual tours for your eCommerce website? We’re here to show you!

If you’re going to offer a virtual tour, do it the right way

With the role of tech-enhanced visualisation in eCommerce rising, there are now more companies than ever offering virtual tours and 360-degree photography services. However, just because people are offering something, it doesn’t mean that they’re good at it!

Even companies who dedicate their entire services to eCommerce photography and video struggle with virtual tours. Why? Well, it’s usually to do with a lack of balance in terms of visual media skills, and web design skills.

Without the correct backend support and site development, the wrong type of virtual tour configuration can significantly slow down your website.

A poorly-implemented virtual tour can completely cheapen the look of your website. The ‘amateur’ look of a virtual tour can even undermine your efforts to improve your online customer experience.

So, before employing someone to create a virtual tour for your eCommerce business, be sure to:

  • Not just choose the cheapest option (there’s usually a reason why some companies are significantly cheaper than others!If it sounds too good to be true, it is.)
  • Look at examples of their previous work
  • Ask how they embed their virtual tours into your site (this will tell you whether they know what they’re talking about or not!)
  • Ask what types of virtual tour they offer
  • If they work with other partners (such as a professional photographer), is this partner the one they use all the time?

Support your virtual tour in its intended purpose

One of the biggest benefits of virtual tours is that it helps keep customers on your website longer. But what’s the point in keeping them on your website if you’re not making it easy for them to make buying decisions?

If you really want to reap the benefits of your virtual tour, it’s vital that you surround your video with opportunities for your customer to make a purchase. This is where a professional web design partner will be able to help.

A professional web developer will know exactly how to position your tour, and where to strategically position call to action (CTA) buttons.

If you have a physical store, capture its essence

If you’re a retailer who cherishes their physical space, you’ll likely want your virtual tour to reflect everything that your shop already does.

This is an opportunity for your eCommerce virtual tour to not only provide online shoppers with a more in-person shopping experience, it can also entice them to visit your actual shop.

Your eCommerce virtual tour should:

Make a good first impression

From the very first click of a button, your virtual tour should give customers the same warm welcome they get in your physical location

Showcase the best angles of your shop

For example, think about vibrant product displays, bright and welcoming spaces, and attention to detail.

Have a clear focus

Are you hoping to showcase particular brands, or do you just want customers to get a sense of what visiting your shop feels like?

Showcase your value proposition

What makes your retail business different? What can your virtual tour contain that will make customers want to visit your store or make an online purchase? Your value proposition should always be visible.

Consider which products could benefit from a more ‘360-degree’ buying experience

If you operate solely online, you might already have some hero products that you tend to push. However, this can change depending on the season, or even which trends are circulating at the time. That’s why for eCommerce retailers, it can be difficult to select which products to showcase when attempting to offer a more ‘in-person’ buying experience.

At the other end of the scale, if you’re thinking about offering 360-degree photos for each individual product on your website — let us stop you there. While for smaller eCommerce sites it might be possible, for larger retailers, it just results in inconsistencies across your online store. When new products need to be added, it can take weeks to get the 360-degree imagery you need to support them.

This is why we advise:

  • Homing in on certain products that you want to give your customers a more immersive shopping experience with
  • Don’t waste time on mundane products (nobody needs 360 photos of a hose pipe!)
  • Only select products that you intend on selling for a long time (seasonal products might not be worth the effort)
  • Ask your suppliers if they already have any 360-imagery photos or video content that they can provide you with before investing your own resources
  • In particular, products with a high aesthetic value work well with 306-degree imagery. When the visual impact of a product is its main selling point, it’s vital that the customer gets as much of a sense of this as possible.

High-ticket items are another type of product that are worth providing additional imagery for. For example, luxury car brands are making use of 360-degree photography to create hype around their vehicles, enough for customers to add their names to pre-order lists or book a test drive. All without ever having seen the car in person.

Think your eCommerce business might benefit from a virtual tour or 360-degree photography?

If you’ve yet to discover the benefits of virtual tours in an eCommerce context, now might be the time. With eCommerce becoming more competitive by the day, capturing the attention of new customers requires a little extra effort. The immersive online shopping experience is already moving at a fast pace, so why not test the waters?

At Ireland Website Design we specialise in everything from web design and development to digital marketing and strategy.

Also now positioned as one of Ireland’s leading providers of virtual tours and 360-degree photography, see what else we can do for you by getting in touch!

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