The eCommerce boom, driven by the pandemic and a significant rise in pureplay eCommerce retailers has led to an oversaturated market with increased competition for retailers this silly season. Ongoing cost-of-living pressures this year have also influenced Australians to tighten their belts. Research from Westpac suggested 74% of Australians anticipate Christmas will be a smaller event this year and 72% are planning to cut back on holiday spending.

As consumer spending habits shift, retailers will be vying for the attention of Australian shoppers. As a result, retailers are looking to explore new and unique ways to attract customers this Christmas and beyond.

The good news is there are several areas retailers can consider to drive sales, maintain customer loyalty and set themselves apart from the rest of the market.

Harness the power of CGI to produce creative imagery quickly

To attract consumer spending in a tight market, retailers now have access to tools to be more agile and flexible. Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) allows retail marketers to produce large volumes of content easily and at speed.The issue with product photography is that it can often take days, or even weeks to conceptualise and execute, not to mention the high costs involved in production. With CGI, retailers can produce photo-realistic visuals and execute campaigns that go live in a matter of hours, getting new products and exciting campaigns in front of customers faster than their competitors.

As consumers rely more on visuals to make purchasing decisions, CGI allows them to view products from every angle, explore intricate details and visualise them in various environments building magic into the experience. With the ability to navigate multiple 360-degree angles, zoom in on details and observe the functionality of a product, CGI streamlines the decision-making process and captures the imagination, making purchases easier and faster.

Focus on enhancing the customer experience

eCommerce and social media consumers are increasingly seeking personalised and immersive shopping experiences. With CGI, retailers can better tailor content to the preferences and interests of each target audience. For example, consumers can view how furniture would look in a specific room or customise the colour and size of a pair of shoes. From this personalised content, brands can create a more engaging and personalised shopping experience to resonate with audiences and drive sales.

Amazon is a cool example of an online retailer leveraging personalisation successfully. The company uses analytics to display products that are frequently bought together by customers, so they package up the products, encouraging bundled purchases. Shoppers can also complete surveys about their personal style and fit preferences, accessing personalised recommendations based on those preferences, further enhancing the customer experience and encouraging faster decision making leading to purchases.

Leverage social media

Australian consumers are using social media more than ever to capture their imagination and make purchases – more than a quarter of millennial shoppers made purchases via social media in the past six months, while 25% of Gen Z consumers use these platforms to shop. Clever retailers are creating tailored and personalised content for socials that drive consumer segments to purchase with them.

Using tools such as CGI on social media, retailers can produce compelling content that goes beyond basic product shots to influence and accelerate purchasing decisions. Animated CGI videos and visual effects can be particularly engaging, while also communicating a brand’s values, identity and showcasing a product’s unique features, and how it works, building a deeper connection with customers.

The other win-win is that CGI-created content can be easily adapted for different marketing campaigns, seasons or product variations. This scalability provides a flexible and visually appealing presence on social media platforms, helping retailers engage with their audience consistently over time. 

More brands such as Maybelline, are also using CGI to create clever, visually stunning campaigns for social media, reaching wider audiences and attracting new customers. Maybelline’s recent campaign used CGI technology to depict its mascara packaging gliding down a street in New York City, transformed into a viral video that has attracted over 12 million views on TikTok alone.

And of course there’s customer retention

The Christmas season may prove successful in attracting customers and boosting sales, however, it’s key to keep the momentum going and maintain a loyal customer base beyond the silly season. It is becoming more challenging to encourage repeat purchasing and a key to maintaining loyalty is for retailers to build consumer trust through creating memories of their brand.

This starts right from the beginning of the purchase process by ensuring product visuals and descriptions match the real-life product. Retailers can use CGI to ensure they’re creating accurate visuals that display a 360-degree view of products coupled with detailed descriptions so consumers see accurate sizing and composition information, making it easier to buy.

More than 50% of Australian shoppers admit poor customer service would deter them from purchasing from a brand again so the key this year is to ensure well-trained customer service teams are equipped to respond to enquiries and issues effectively and quickly this Christmas season. Loyalty programs providing reward points and exclusive access to sales and events are also helpful customer retention strategies.

In a tighter spending market, enhanced, flexible and clever content creation that captures the imagination of shoppers can set a brand apart and boost sales throughout the Christmas season and beyond. Retailers can continue leveraging technology such as CGI, to create personalised customer experiences and improve their customer service offering through Christmas and into 2024.

Tim Morison is founder and creative director of Insite Imagery.