Stipple, a startup that allows publishers to enrich images with additional content and links, is launching a new feature that it says will allow merchants to include a full-fledged online store in an image.
Co-founder and CEO Rey Flemings told me that this is powerful because product images will usually get better distribution than a traditional ad — “More people will see Nike’s photos and photos that contain Nike than will watch a Nike ad.” With the new feature, merchants can actually monetize those images (if they run on a site that has integrated with Stipple or that added the image using the Stipple embed code).
The company previously supported commerce by adding “shop” links to images. In those cases, however, Flemings said shoppers had to go to another site to make the purchase, which could be particularly problematic if they were looking at an image on their phone and then followed a link to an online store that isn’t mobile-optimized. And even without that issue, there’s some inherent friction.
With Stipple Shopping, on the other hand, people can browse multiple images of a product, view related products, and, yes, make the actual purchase. Flemings said the in-image stores integrate with the merchant’s existing purchase system, so Stipple isn’t the one handling user data.
The feature also builds on existing Stipple technology. For one thing, Flemings said it takes advantage of Stipple’s automatic tagging capabilities, so no one has to manually tag products in an image. And as with existing Stipple photos, these stores will work on Facebook and Twitter.
I didn’t actually get a chance to see one of the stores — a Stipple spokesperson told me that’s because of the “our front end, your backend” approach: “We’re not sharing the UI because brands’ back ends may require tweaks that will alter the front end.” However, you can see the basic idea illustrated in the video above.
Flemings said the functionality is live as of today, allowing existing Stipple merchants to opt-in to the system.