Imaging technology is the practice of using tools to digitally capture and store data, create product prototypes or reach target audiences more effectively. Some of the processes to capture images include scanning, printing, drawing with CAD tools and photographing files, objects and statistics.
Once a brand converts data to visual information, they can use it for analysis and decision making.
Ways business to consumer (B2C) companies utilize imaging include:
- Document scanning to store important items such as contracts or agreements with customers.
- Digital photography to capture images for product catalogs or marketing. Companies might need a digital file to send to the printer, use on a website or create an ad on social media. Digital photos offer the ability to edit and enhance images for promotional purposes.
- Design tools such as Adobe Photoshop to create logos and other brand assets to build a specific style and voice for a company.
- Use digital files for image analysis and facial recognition. Companies might find the technology helpful for security, medical imaging and finding patterns for quality control.
- Create an immersive environment with virtual and augmented reality (AR and VR). Overlay digital images on top of real world images to enhance customer experiences, train employees or practice delicate processes.
According to Statista, the diagnostic imaging devices sector will reach $46.41 billion in sales in 2023. Imaging technology helps businesses streamline a lot of different elements needed to create a successful and productive company culture.
Company leaders will be better able to utilize digital assets to the brand’s benefit and create positive experiences for customers. Here are the ways companies can transform their B2C business through imaging technology.
1. Immerse Potential Customers in the Product
Advances in VR and AR technology allow organizations to create 3D product rendering or virtual environments to walk leads through options and help them experience the item before making a purchase.
Examples include online shopping, where the user tries on clothes with an AR app that uses their image to show them what an outfit looks like on them or how it fits.
Businesses such as IKEA offer the ability to plop a piece of furniture into a room and see how it fits and looks.
Interior designers can show a client how the new look they’ve designed might look. AR improves customer confidence and reduces returns.
Experiential displays are another way to tap into the power of visualization technology and create an experience for users. Picture a customer entering a store and seeing images displayed on the wall.
For example, a bathing suit retailer might create an entire experience where the user feels as though they are on the beach. Images of water and sand project on the walls of a tunnel to enter the store.
The sound of waves crashing and seagulls calling fill the air. The person is taken to the beach and ready for a day of leisure, putting them in the mood to buy a bathing suit.
2. Improve Quality Control
The quality of a product often determines if the company gets repeat buyers. Combining imaging technology with machine learning helps manufacturers find defects in their product. Alternatively, retail stores can spot counterfeit products and make sure items are authentic before selling them to consumers.
Protect a brand’s reputation by familiarizing inspectors with the types of lighting used in machine vision technologies.
LED, fluorescent and quartz-halogen are the most popular types for smaller inspection stations. Set standards for quality and enlist the help of imaging technology to review anything questionable.
Take images and look for patterns to spot any subtle differences. Even better, tap into the power of inspection software and let the machine find quality control issues automatically. A human inspector can then pull the product and review it for flaws.
3. Enable Visual Search Features
For e-commerce companies, new technology can let people search with images rather than words. If the person doesn’t know what a hat style or type of shirt is called, doing a hunt with similar images can facilitate the right results.
Another way online stores can use this technology is to let users search for “similar products” to ones they’ve already saved to a wishlist or ordered.
The entire shopping experience becomes more customized to the client’s preferences. Offering an intuitive way for buyers to find new products can increase your conversion rate and bring in more revenue.
New AI tools can take a few images and combine them into something new, allowing companies to tap into the power of past buying behavior data, note what the person likes and come up with a new product or offer to encourage repeat purchases.
4. Streamline Marketing
Imaging technology gives you a chance to create stunning ads to attract new customers.
Many social media platforms are vision driven, meaning you can utilize imaging software to create data visualizations and share them with your target audience. Come up with campaigns for platforms such as Instagram or TikTok without being an expert on the site.
It’s crucial to communicate with your audiences frequently if you want to stay in touch and show them you understand their needs.
When you post consistently, you show you care and create trust between you and users. Imaging technology speeds up the process of creating visual content and allows companies to post more frequently.
Imaging technology enables businesses to create visually compelling and engaging advertisements.
With the rise of social media and visual-centric platforms, businesses can leverage technologies like image recognition, computer vision, and interactive imaging to create personalized and interactive advertising campaigns.
This can help attract and retain customers, increase brand awareness, and drive sales.
5. Offer Customization
Every year, new businesses open and others shut down. What is the magic formula that allows one company to succeed over another? Customers today expect a personalized experience. One way B2C businesses can offer what clients want is through customization.
Imaging technology lets companies adapt to different buyers on the fly. For example, someone might use imaging technology to build a new car online and then the automobile manufacturer builds it customized to their desires.
Show images of potential changes that make the item belong exclusively to the person browsing. The more personalized the image of the product, the more likely the lead will buy it.
Nearly any type of product can be customized to the buyer personas the brand serves. Another example is VistaPrint.
Users tap into the power of digital imaging and plug in their details to see how it might look on a business card or poster before ordering the product. Digital imaging technology helps sell products.
6. Create Happy Customers
Imaging allows you to improve customer service and support clients through every step of the buyer’s journey.
One example might be tapping into live video support or using chatbots with image recognition so customers and agents–real or machines–can troubleshoot issues with the buyer and fix them on the spot.
Images improve problem-solving and give accurate answers customized to each individual customer’s pain points. Brands also save money on paying customer support employees by tapping into the effectiveness of AI to meet customer needs.
How might the process look? The customer buys a new handheld fan but can’t get it to turn on. They go online and initial a live chat with the AI bot.
The machine asks what the problem is and then encourages the user to take a photo of what they see and upload it. The computer runs through a series of troubleshooting steps based on the images and offers solutions until the problem is fixed.
The customer walks away happy when realizing the batteries were in the fan backwards and the problem was a simple fix.
The live chat “agent” helped them solve the issue in mere minutes and they’re happy with the product and the customer service, while the human live agents spend their time on more intense and creative tasks.
7. Enhance the Product Planning Phase
Three-dimensional product rendering gives product planners an opportunity to perfect the item before releasing it to the public.
Although VR is the most common type of digital imaging technology, planners can also utilize 3D printers to create prototypes from computer aided design models. Check for issues and inconsistency, make changes on the computer and then print another model to test.
Industries such as fashion and beauty see an impact from three dimensional product images. However, the insight offered can apply to almost any physical product imaginable.
Companies can even use imaging from past successful product launches to compare current product specs and make sure they aren’t missing any crucial elements in packaging or product design.
Future Uses for Imaging Technology
For companies that want to stay competitive and grow consistently, it’s crucial to tap into the capabilities of current technological trends. Imaging technology is just one small part of the equation.
The ways people utilize imaging technology are certain to change as time passes and computers become smarter and able to do more tasks. Stay on top of current trends to transform the way your B2C business functions and how well it serves the needs of customers.
About the Author!
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.