Why the future of eCommerce photography is UGC

People are constantly sharing their opinions about brands, whether that means promoting them directly to friends and family, leaving a review on the brand’s website, or taking their feedback to social media. In recent years, social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok have become popular destinations to discover new products. This trend has given rise to user-generated content (UGC): media featuring a brand or product created (and often shared on social channels) by everyday people instead of the brand itself.

As a marketer, you likely know the power of UGC in persuading potential buyers and improving brand awareness. However, like many marketers at direct-to-consumer brands, you may be hesitant to fully embrace UGC as a form of eCommerce photography for your marketing channels, either because it seems difficult to collect or its quality isn’t up to your brand standards.

Luckily, there are ways around these roadblocks, and relying on UGC as a main content source for your eCommerce photography may end up being a more efficient, cost-effective, and persuasive strategy. Let’s dive into why this is and how your brand can start collecting more high-quality UGC.

Why eCommerce brands need UGC 

UGC is influential for many reasons. 93% of consumers agree that UGC can aid purchasing decisions. Conversion rates go up by 10% when UGC is used at some point in the purchasing process. Gathering community-driven content from your audience also makes remote marketing cost-effective and easier to maintain.

In analyzing the above statistics, we can confidently say that UGC doesn’t just get consumers more excited about making a purchase, it often convinces them to do so. Let’s examine some of the main reasons why UGC positively impacts purchase confidence.

UGC contextualizes your product

Shoppers want to see products in action when they head to your eCommerce site, whether it’s yoga apparel on a real person out in the world or ingredients from a food brand used to create a delicious plate. In any industry, contextualizing your product through UGC allows prospective buyers to imagine themselves owning your product and using it in their day-to-day lives.

Lagos screenshot

Contextualizing a product can take on many forms. Jewelry brand Lagos shares UGC from real customers in an on-site, shoppable UGC gallery to show site visitors how their pieces can be styled to complement different looks, complexions, additional jewelry, and more.

UGC promotes trust in your brand

In an age where any brand can create an ad on social media or run a commercial on a streaming service, people tend to trust their peers over brands themselves. In fact, 96% of consumers believe traditional advertising is done to intentionally mislead them.

When a consumer can easily access honest feedback and media from people like them on your eCommerce website, they’re more likely to trust your product’s quality and your brand in general. Even when it comes to brand ambassadors and influencer marketing, social users trust these individuals to make good recommendations for brands they truly trust and enjoy.

Farrow & Ball Screenshot

Farrow & Ball is one of many eCommerce brands to not only showcase a high volume of reviews from real buyers, but also publish visual UGC on product pages for site visitors to peruse. The brand uses Pixlee TurnTo to build vibrant, eye-catching displays unique to individual products and ultimately drive conversion while increasing time spent on-site.

Allowing a real person to create the content for you and give an authentic account of their brand or product experience comes across as a lot more genuine than content created by the marketing department. This helps consumers trust you and continue in the marketing funnel. 

UGC shows that your brand cares

In the same vein as brand awareness and trust, interacting with your customers’ UGC shows them that your brand truly values them as a part of your online community. By highlighting customer content, you’re ensuring that shoppers know you actually listen to and make improvements related to their feedback. You’re also encouraging them to continue sharing UGC around your products.

Radio Flyer Screenshot

Radio Flyer drove a 7x increase in conversion and boosted time spent on-site 85% by publishing 117 UGC displays across the brand’s ecommerce website. Collected through Pixlee TurnTo, this UGC conveys the brand’s dedication to supporting its community and celebrating customers.

"Pixlee TurnTo [now Emplifi] has been a great solution for our team to help cut down the time and resources used, and to help spread this awesome user-generated content we receive from our families across multiple channels, and not just social media.” — Mindy Schanzle, Marketing Communications Lead, Radio Flyer

All of these points underline UGC’s benefits as eCommerce photography for your brand. It’s important to keep in mind that you don’t have to choose between professional photography and customer media; branded content and UGC often provide the most context and purchase confidence when used together as part of your content strategy.

A quick guide to collecting UGC 

Any business in any industry can take advantage of UGC. And they should, considering the benefits listed above. But one of the biggest hurdles holding companies back is needing to learn how to efficiently collect high-quality UGC from their customers. 

First and foremost, you need a real strategy. Digitally document or write down the following to form a strategy for collecting UGC:

  • Why do you want to collect UGC?

  • What will you use it for? 

  • Where do you want to use it?

  • What are your ideas for where to collect it?

  • How will you convince users to create and submit it?

  • How will you ensure your collection and use of UGC maintains brand safety?

After you have thought about these points above, you can begin exploring the UGC about your products that are likely already out there on social media. While you can manually search through hashtags, mentions, and photo tags on your brand account, the most efficient way to collect, curate, and publish UGC across your marketing channels is to invest in a Social UGC platform like Pixlee TurnTo [now Emplifi UGC].

With Pixlee TurnTo, brands of various sizes can customize their UGC strategies to meet their goals while reducing the time and effort required on your team’s end. Diverse social content (both videos and static images) from a variety of channels like TikTok and Instagram are automatically collected according to your brand’s needs, with low-quality or unrelated content filtered out into spam. From there, your team can approve and automatically get permission to publish the best pieces of UGC you’ve collected.

When it comes to your eCommerce website, get creative about how to showcase your community’s content. With Pixlee TurnTo, UGC can be featured on product pages, in shoppable inspiration galleries, in community-focused carousel displays, in blog posts, and more. 

Reduce manual search efforts and in-house content creation costs when you rely on UGC as eCommerce photography. eCommerce businesses can benefit tremendously from UGC. First, just be sure to understand the benefits and challenges of UGC equally. Then, use the quick start guide above to collect UGC in the most organized, ethical way. 

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.

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