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July 12, 2021

Jehan Hamedi of Vizit: Why Images Are Now Worth More Than a Thousand Words in Ecommerce

Written by: Satta Sarmah Hightower
“In this new digital, visually centered environment, the rules have changed, and what I mean by that is [an] image has now become both the gateway to consideration, as well as the most powerful virtual sales force at driving conversion.” — Jehan Hamedi, Founder and CEO, Vizit

Consumers often make their purchasing decisions based on price, availability, and quality, but compelling imagery also can entice them to click and funnel items into their shopping carts. 

“[An] image has now become both the gateway to consideration, as well as the most powerful virtual sales force at driving conversion,” says Jehan Hamedi, founder and CEO of Vizit, a first-of-its-kind visual brand performance platform that uses artificial intelligence -driven technology to measure, understand, and optimize visual experiences for consumers.   

Hamedi joined a recent episode of the Unpacking the Digital Shelf podcast, “Optimizing the Shopper’s Visual Experience,” to share how brands can use visuals to learn more about their customers and deliver an engaging experience both on and off the digital shelf.  

The View of the Customer

The increased focus on content optimization and automation has led many brand manufacturers to use computer-generated images or to farm out design work and their online visual representation to content creation platforms. But this can lead to a disjointed visual experience and fragmented insights across these visual touchpoints.

Vizit aims to solve these challenges by allowing its customers to:

  • Test different design concepts on its platform;
  • Gather insights on audience preferences, campaign, and product performance; and
  • Identify which image assets, visual branding, or packaging motivates consumers to make a purchase. 

Hamedi says visual intelligence technology like Vizit is so crucial for ecommerce today because it allows brands to transition from simply understanding the voice of the customer to “the view of the customer and understanding what consumers see and the most optimal way to present your products to them.”

But for brands to truly harness visuals to improve their business outcomes, they need data — and lots of it.

The Power of Visual Intelligence

Delivering a better visual experience is often challenging for brands because there’s so much of the retail experience they don’t control. Their focus is often geared toward meeting each retailer’s content requirements rather than optimizing their visual performance. Hamedi says part of the problem for brands has been the difficulty with accurately measuring visual performance.

“Imagery is the last unoptimized aspect of the PDP [product detail page], because it hasn't been able to be measured in any discreet and detailed way,” he says.

But visual intelligence technology helps brands optimize both their image selection and understand what Hamedi calls their “visual competitive set,” or what best-in-class high- performing imagery looks like in their specific retail category.

This data-driven approach is much more effective than the more traditional, subjective approach to visual branding, where a brand might come up with different design concepts, photograph a pallet’s worth of product, and then select several lifestyle images that will live on its product detail page for several months. However, with visual insights, brands can drive better image selection and optimization.

“The better image wins and what our system has been able to prove is if you have better scoring and better-performing images on each visual touch point than your competitive set, you're going to sell more product every time.” — Jehan Hamedi, Founder and CEO, Vizit

Understanding What Shapes Consumers’ Visual Preferences

Visual intelligence technology is a powerful tool for understanding how consumers engage with certain imagery, as well as the unique preferences that shape their visual experience.  

“Images are the language of the world, but they can be translated very differently, depending on where you are,” Hamedi says.

Vizit uncovers these tendencies with the help of an AI-driven algorithm that learns to simulate the visual preferences of a specific demographic or consumer cohort based on attitudes and psychographic traits. 

Hamedi says to understand how to visually communicate with a particular demographic, brands have to understand “what types of content they're exposed to on the internet — all of that content, all of that imagery is public, and it's ‘mine-able.’”

“It's a totally new set of data and insights that can be gleaned, so the key is understanding that digital zip code, understanding what is relevant and what are these different groups of people choosing to expose themselves to on the internet,” he adds. “If you can figure that out, you can get a really direct line into what they're most motivated by and what presentation of your products would be most motivating to them.” 

Forging the Path to Better Visual Experiences

Measuring, understanding and optimizing visual performance can positively impact brands in several ways — not only on the digital shelf, but also on the physical shelf.

Hamedi says brands can use visual intelligence technology to inform package design at the earliest stages, whether it’s for a new product launch or rebrand. Some brands, like Tyson Foods, that haven’t traditionally focused on ecommerce channels also are using this technology to adapt the shopping experience for their key products to the digital shelf. 

Tyson, which Food Dive notes has seen its ecommerce sales increase 89% in the last year as more consumers shopped online during the pandemic, is working with Vizit to launch a digital deli.

While shipping fresh meats to consumers is one challenge, making these products visually appealing online is a unique conundrum in and of itself. “Raw meat, traditionally as an experience, you go into a store and you look at the cuts. You’re kind of visually inspecting [the meat] and educating yourself as you're in-store,” Hamedi says.

Vizit is working with Tyson to shift this experience online and determine how to visually present its meat products on Walmart.com, which is challenging because “you're trying to create a [visual] presentation where there are no visual standards of excellence that exists,” Hamedi says.

“People on e-commerce eat with their eyes, they drink from their desktops. So, whether it's raw meat, a bottle of Pepsi or your favorite snack bar, those visuals have the role of a million salespeople. They have to reach out, entice you and convince consumers of your value proposition and why you're better than everybody else in a millisecond.” — Jehan Hamedi, Founder and CEO, Vizit

As Tyson works to launch its digital deli and innovate the online visual experience for fresh food, its efforts might just pave a path for other meat manufacturers — while giving the brand tons of rich insights it can use to build its ecommerce business. 

Like Tyson, brands are better positioned than ever to optimize images for performance at scale and see their products from the lens of their consumers. Hamedi says this shift could be transformative for ecommerce.

“Marketing, as a discipline, forever has been trying to put yourself in the shoes of that 18-year old consumer, of that 25-year-old consumer, but ultimately we aren't that consumer,” he says. “We're making our best understanding and best guess at what they're going to react to, but we can't see through their eyes. With a massive amount of data and some really cool technology, it is possible — it's not only possible, it's pinpoint- accurate to be able to understand their view of the world.”

Listen to the full podcast to learn how your product images can be your best salesperson and how you can achieve success with your product detail pages.