The Shopping Cart Goes Social

Featured in Technology
The Shopping Cart Goes Social

The perfect dress. The must-have toy. The T-shirt that “gets” you. We’ve all had that experience of seeing the perfect product and the accompanying need to buy it. It’s the human desire at the heart of product placement and influencer marketing.

Brands pay big dollars to place their products in film or to secure the perfect celebrity endorsement, but it’s hard to measure the impact and return on investment. The experience is too far removed from the point of sale.

Today, with the growth of social media channels, there’s a new generation of influence marketers — from bloggers, to Instagram and YouTube celebrities. And with changing consumer expectations, brands are looking to create more direct relationships with their customers.

In part, it’s what inspired Adobe to create a sneak technology called See and Shop — an easy way for marketers and online influencers to connect online photos directly to a shopping experience.

Martin Buergi, senior product manager at Adobe, demonstrates See and Shop at Adobe Summit using a fictional pair of Woke jeans.

“We wanted to see if we could make any image into a shoppable opportunity and help brands capitalize on the new, modern landscape of bloggers, social advocates, and online personalities looking to monetize their platforms,” says Errol Denger, director of commerce strategy and experience-driven commerce programs at Adobe. “Today, online influencers are typically doing this through affiliate or click-through programs, but we wanted to create a richer experience that’s easy to scale and connects directly with brands.”

See and Shop is concept technology that is actually a combination of artificial intelligence, microservices, and social media APIs. It works by applying Adobe Sensei to recognize products in a photo, pairing those objects with product information and online shopping carts using microservices available through Adobe I/O runtime, and then integrating that data into social media channels through Adobe Experience Manager or other social media APIs.

“It starts with Sensei Smart Tagging,” says Martin Buergi, senior product manager at Adobe. “We use Image Recognition in Adobe Sensei to recognize objects in a photograph, and then compare those objects to information in a brand’s product catalog.”

In his demonstration at Adobe Summit, Martin took a photo with comedian Leslie Jones while wearing Woke jeans — an outrageous fictional product lampooned in a “Saturday Night Live” sketch — and posted it to his Creative Cloud account.

“Every image has a metadata layer, called XMP, that we can use to store information,” Martin says. “We could use it for product data or price information, but that information frequently changes. So instead we use it to store a URL that points to a microservice running on the Adobe I/O runtime platform.”

From there, the microservice can connect that product data — such as standard product descriptions, price, or shopping cart URLs — back to the posted photograph via Adobe Experience Manager, and embedded HTML on a blog or an API for a service like Pinterest’s shoppable pin.

For bloggers and social media managers, it makes it easy to turn any photo into a commercial experience with a few clicks.  “You become more valuable to brands as an influencer if you can convert your followers into sales through direct clickthroughs instead of an affiliate program. It means you can bypass programmatic ad buys, and sell conversions instead, giving you a higher take-rate of that opportunity,” says Errol.

Consumers benefit too. “80 percent of the feedback we considered as we developed See and Shop came from consumer point of view. People like the idea of being able to shop from anywhere, as long as it is done in a seamless and non-obtrusive way,” says Martin. “It’s a big part of why I’m excited about commerce. It’s a huge market with big challenges, big opportunities, and lots of competition. New touchpoints are emerging everyday, like voice and augmented reality. And people really want to be able to use this.”

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