Brands have been leveraging editorial content to elevate online experiences since the dawn of e-commerce. But innovations in visual outfitting and bundling technology mean the opportunities to connect with consumers are growing, even as costs and lead times shrink.
The Explosive Growth of e-Commerce—and Consumer Expectations
The COVID-19 pandemic triggered a retail revolution, sending consumers online at an unprecedented pace. According to a recent report, e-commerce as a share of total retail sales has grown two to five times faster by country than pre-pandemic, with e-commerce sales worldwide projected to approach $5.4 trillion in 2022 (up from $3.35 trillion in 2019).
Also growing at a rapid and steady pace? Consumer expectations. With the world of digital retail literally at their fingertips, customers demand flawless UX—instantaneous load times, omnichannel integration, seamless checkout, 24/7 customer support. With optimization occurring constantly in an already-saturated market, maintaining the status quo is no longer an option.
With everything happening at such an accelerated pace, how can a company create a competitive edge? The answer lies in user experiences that surprise and delight, that deliver relationship-building moments that both drive conversion and help consumers feel a differentiating connection to brands. Ironically enough, the key to creating these human-centric experiences is artificial intelligence—specifically, AI-powered outfitting.
Outfit-driven content is much more than just a cross-selling mechanism. It’s a means of driving discovery, interaction, engagement, and personalized experiences with online audiences. With Stylitics’s AI-powered styling, what was once an expensive and laborious process of content creation can be done automatically, ensuring a constant supply of fresh, unique content that turns e-commerce sites into a source of inspiration, and one-time customers into loyal advocates.
Tim Baxter, CEO of Express, explains how outfitting can create relationship-building experiences that strategically ladder up to broader brand purpose, creating that human connection: “We are transforming [Express] from being known as ‘the store at the mall’ to a brand with a purpose … to create confidence and inspire self-expression. Stylitics embodies that brand purpose—when customers see the versatility that one item may have for them … that creates an incredible confidence.
Baxter adds, “We’ve set a goal to drive a billion dollars in revenue in e-commerce over the next several years. Stylitics, converting at two times our average and driving a 60% higher AOV, also supports our strategic goals.”
Outfitting and the Consumer Experience: Use Cases in Depth
From paid social to PDP’s, the potential to engage and inspire consumers through outfitting at every step of the journey is endless.
Stylitics AI can identify and personalize results based on both in-session behavioral data and data from third party systems, ensuring uniquely personal and highly relevant results for individual consumers every time they interact with a brand.
Imagine being able to create editorial content with assets that visually articulate seasonal and trend-driven brand messages, serving the needs of the consumer in the moment—without the time and expense of a full studio team. Stylitics AI automates this process, saving time and money, with a virtually unlimited ability to scale.
As consumers struggled to navigate their new work-from-home normal, clothing retailers used Stylitics to offer timely sartorial solutions, helping them pivot quickly from seasonal stories to cozy-at-home content.
Themed galleries and product bundles offer shoppers relevant cross-category items at a glance, without having to search the site. One major outdoor sportswear retailer leveraged Stylitics visual content technology to promote outdoor camping experiences as a way to inspire customers to continue enjoying the outdoors, while a major department store has successfully boosted their athletic category with bundles of products specifically for at-home workouts.
Inspire Confidence in Conversion
For consumers in the consideration phase, inspirational content that demonstrates a product’s versatility can help them over the finish line to conversion. Strong visuals on-site help shoppers envision products in their own closet and home, while styling content demonstrates an item’s versatility, with the added bonus of upselling included styling pieces. Recent research shows that outfitting content correlates to a 1.8x increase in conversion, and a 21% increase in AOV.
At every stage of the consumer journey, brands have a golden opportunity to not only meet expectations for seamless UX, but create moments of inspiration, surprise, and delight that will keep customers returning for more. Creating custom editorial content that fosters these brand relationships used to require long lead times, full studio teams, and a hefty creative budget. The good news? The future of content is automated, immediate, and affordable—and Stylitics is paving the way.