Content marketing is crucial for your business. This fact hasn’t escaped anyone in the digital world, and discussions about how to generate content in the best and fastest way are overflowing in the how-to-do-business-online section of the internet. Generating content is expensive and time consuming. In the fashion industry it’s even harder since the stock of products are ever-changing. At the same time there is a massive amount of content being generated by the end customers, especially in the fashion industry. Olapic has found a way for online retailers to use customer photos to generate content. With Asos, Steve Madden, Lancôme and Walmart among their clients, we just had to sit down and have a talk with one of the founders of Olapic, Jose de Cabo.
Olapic gathers customer photos from social media websites or collects them straight from the customers onsite, from email etc. Once the photos have been approved, they can be displayed on product pages, galleries, Facebook and other places.
– Me and the other founders, Luis Sanz and Pau Sabria, went to Vegas and had a great time. Everyone took a lot of pictures and afterwards we thought that it would have been great with a service that would collect everyone’s pictures from the same event. We started thinking about weddings, how great it would be for the bride and groom if they automatically could gather all the photos that the guests had taken.
So why did you decide to go into the e-commerce business instead?
– Well, honestly, our initial idea didn’t really work. We reworked it a couple of times but it still didn’t give us the turnover we needed. It was a rough couple of years in the beginning. We had an office in New York without windows, and it was the two coldest winters in a long time. It was kind of depressing. We set a limit, so that if we hadn’t reached a certain revenue in a limited time, we would stop and do something else. That time limit was surpassed a couple of times. But even if we didn’t reach our goals we just couldn’t stop, we were passionate about the idea of putting all the visual content generated by people to use.
So our product didn’t just dawn on us; it was the result of many, many discussions. It happened by talking to people, talking to customers and trying to find a way to bring value to our clients. So our future offerings may be quite different, and that’s what I like about this process. The valuable relationship between a brand and its technical suppliers is that both parties learn from each other.
”A successful entreprenuer who tells you that their very first idea is what made them successful is probably lying. – José de Cabo”
You eventually came up with the idea of collecting customer photos to generate content for online shops. How did you get your first clients?
– An important part of it was explaining the concept. The first brands that we worked with were actually quite brave in allowing the consumer to be part of the brand experience, starting what essentially is a one-to-one communication where their images end up on the web site. The content is moderated by the brand, and matched to real products, but still, it was a leap of faith that paid off!
But looking at it now, it all seems almost… inevitable?
– Oh, sure. We believe that in a few year’s time, we will look back at the shopping experience and say “how did we manage to shop at all, without seeing what the products look like”.
At Olapic, we believe that humans are visual creatures. We consume visual content much faster than text – we are wired that way. We have been doing it for thousands and thousands of years while we have seen the written word for a much shorter period of time.
And, you know, brands have been pushing state-of-the-art, photoshopped photography for a long time, so in the early days we couldn’t know for sure that user-generated content would generate conversions. But we have proven with A/B-testing that consumers feel more related if they can see what the dress or the sneakers look like on a real person. They have more information to make an informed decision.
A few years ago, everyone was talking about how “social shopping” would be the next big thing. But that never really took off, did it?
– No. Maybe it just wasn’t that easy to transfer the real-life experience to a digital world. We find that most people, when we ask consumers about this, say that our system is a lot like going to the store and looking at other consumers interacting with the products. They don’t have to be your friends, just other consumers that you can relate to. The e-commerce shopping experience hasn’t really changed that much over the years – you see a product, you can go to a page with descriptions and images, maybe a review if the brand allows it – but all in all, it is a very flat experience. By making the consumer a part of the process, you create a much richer experience. It just makes sense.
Your service allows for clients to see what pictures generate the most conversions. That almost sounds like you could find the components for the ultimate selfie?
– That would be a great idea! But yes, we do have a lot of best practices on what works and what doesn’t work. We are quite obsessed with finding meanings in photos, something that is very hard. What a photo means to you is not necessarily the same for me. But with a data driven approach, we can se which photos convert – and that allows us to predict which images will give brands the best results. We use a machine learning algorithm that gets better over time, and right now it is seven times more accurate in predicting which photos will lead to conversions than a random selection. This allows for us to make recommendations for the brand.
What motivates you as a person and entreprenuer today?
– The number one thing that gets me out of bed in the morning is that we are changing something on the Internet. It may not be huge or world-changing, but we are making our dent on how people shop. We may actually change the way people make digital purchases. Another great motivator is that we are building a fantastic team.
You are entering the Nordic market now, will we see you at the Nordic eCommerce Summit?
– Yes, we will be there and we are looking forward to meeting up with Nordic online retailers.