Customer Supplied Images Drive Social ROI at Urban Outfitters

By Tim Denman — February 25, 2014

It’s all about the image. The world of social media is evolving from a text-driven experience to one that is fueled by images. Urban Outfitters is embracing the new social reality by leveraging customer-supplied photos on its website to increase the ROI of its social initiatives.

Social media marketing is transitioning from a tool used to help promote a retailer's brand to a device to help savvy retailers understand their customer and their preferences. Urban Outfitters has partnered with Curalate to host customer-supplied shoppable Pinterest images on its website.

Fans of the brand are anxious to share photos of themselves wearing Urban Outfitters clothes on various social media sites including Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram. Curalate's Fanreel solution allows retailers to use those images on their websites to build a community of like-minded customers and drive sales.

The coolest thing about the solution is not just that user-supplied images are being leveraged on a retailer's site, it is the fact that those images are shoppable. Online shoppers that visit the "Show Us Your OU" section of Urban Outfitters' website can view dozens of images supplied by fans of the brand and can shop the photo by simply hovering over the image and clicking the "Shop It" button. Results have been impressive. Although Urban Outfitters has not released any metrics on sales conversations on the microsite, one in five visitors clicks on at least one Shop It button as they browse the images.  

"It's too soon to have numbers to report, but we are seeing a higher click thru," Moira Gregonis, senior marketing manager, Urban Outfitters said. "We really are trying to build a community. We are receiving hundreds of submissions weekly. We focus on being innovative and most times this attracts a younger customer."

The popularity of the concept among younger customers is not surprising. "For Millennials big brands are like celebrities," Curalate CEO Apu Gupta said. "When they submit a photo and it gets featured they are excited."

Gupta believes that the power of social is no longer in brand building, but in useful analytics that can help drive merchandising decisions down to the product level. "People are going to Urban Outfitters website, finding the exact products that they love and saving just those products to Pinterest," he says. "If you can tap into that, and tap into it at scale, all of a sudden you can understand consumer sentiment about your brand. It is no longer about liking Urban Outfitters; it is about liking an Urban Outfitters' sweater."  

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