Shoppable content: should you be making it a part of your marketing strategy?

Shoppable content: should you be making it a part of your marketing strategy?

The eCommerce landscape has changed dramatically over the last few years, and shoppable content is just one of the latest trends revolutionising how consumers interact with brands online. 

Do you know what the first true eCommerce transaction was? While Pizza Hut is often credited for this, the actual story lies with a 21-year-old entrepreneur named Dan Kohn, who sold a copy of a Sting album to a friend using the world’s first secure credit card transaction for a physical good on August 11, 1994.

Fast forward almost thirty years, and it’s fair to say that online shopping has come a long way since then. With retail eCommerce sales now amounting to $4.9 trillion worldwide, brands are continuously looking for ways to make the experience more exciting, engaging, and seamless for consumers in an attempt to close that all-important gap between engagement and purchase.

Whilst social media and publishing platforms have provided brands with excellent opportunities to connect and engage with consumers on the path to purchase, there’s a new format revolutionising the process: shoppable content. But what is it, and how do you know whether it's right for your business?

What is shoppable content?

Shoppable content (also known as shoppable media) can be any digital asset such as an ad, social media post, video or image that a consumer can click through to make an instant purchase. It’s something that many platforms, especially social, are constantly innovating to create new revenue streams.

For example, sites like TikTok, Pinterest and Meta have made in-platform eCommerce possible through tools like shoppable ads, product tagging, shopping-specific ads and livestream shopping.

You might be scrolling Instagram and spot a photo of a stylish living room. Product tags allow you to click on an item within that image to find out more. Although there are some situations where you may have to complete the checkout process on the brand’s website, most of the time the transaction can take place within the app itself.

How does it benefit both consumers and brands?

Shortening the consumer sales journey is probably the biggest draw for using this format, as Harry Hanson-Smith, Regional VP at the AI-powered personalisation platform, Dynamic Yield highlights.

“Shoppable content emerged out of a need and desire from consumers to more easily purchase interesting items of clothing they came across online, either through a social media post, video, image on a website, or ad,” Hanson-Smith explains.

“Imagine the experience of exposing a shopper to a product and then making them click through multiple erroneous pages, sometimes even having to source it, before ultimately being able to purchase. It’s not only inefficient for the shopper but also the brand, creating a lot of noise when trying to create future targeted experiences.”

Another advantage is the ability to use stories to sell, improving the customer experience. Shoppable content is a highly visual format, which most marketers will already recognise as being a powerful tool in the customer journey. After all, the average person can recall 65% of the information they saw three days later if paired with a relevant image. The same goes for storytelling. If we see something in the context of a narrative, we’ll often remember it better.

Shoppable content uses the same principles – by showing products as part of a story, consumers find it easier to see the benefits in action.

Of course, you’re also reaching people already in a prime position to shop. While you might not immediately think that someone scrolling through social media is ready to purchase, according to Instagram for Business, 44% of its users shop on the platform weekly through features like shopping tags and the shop tab.

And finally, there’s the data-rich side of this format. By providing a direct path to purchase from your content, marketers can clearly see what is most effective in driving sales and which products are most popular. In turn, this allows for better planning for future campaigns.

Where will shoppable content go next? 

COVID-19 has no doubt accelerated digital adoption and shaped new habits online, and brands are expected to keep up with the ever-growing demand from consumers for better online experiences. As such, platforms continue to explore new revenue streams, with shoppable livestreams becoming one of the latest trends.

“The latest iteration of shoppable content that we’re seeing is through live stream commerce, which rose to popularity in China and has started to make waves across platforms like YouTube as well as within eCommerce experiences such as Amazon Live. Think makeup tutorials, where the products used by beauty brands or influencers are highlighted and available for purchase as part of a live stream video showcasing their benefits or potential applications,” explains Hanson-Smith.

“A largely untapped opportunity, brands can further maximise these immersive shoppable experiences by laying in personalisation to increase exposure to other relevant items within the product catalogue for upsell and cross-sell purposes. The possibilities are really endless.”

Cosmetics giant L’Oréal is one example of brands jumping on this trend, which started doing shoppable live streams in 2020. These featured celebrities and influencers doing makeup tutorials and skincare routines, offering viewers the chance to interact with the hosts, ask questions, and purchase discounted products, all in one seamless experience.  

Unleashing its opportunities 

With so many online trends emerging, it can be challenging for marketers to differentiate between what's worthwhile and what's simply a fad.

When it comes to shoppable content, however, it’s important to think about the ever-growing expectation from consumers for brands to deliver more personalised and convenient experiences.

Your customers are inundated with thousands of ads and marketing messages every day. Shoppable content presents a valuable opportunity to combine retail and brand storytelling in a way that makes the online experience both profitable and personalised.

This can present a fantastic opportunity for brands to capitalise on an increasingly successful trend, but they should remain cautious. Consumers aren’t stupid – they can spot when a brand isn’t being genuine. The most important thing you can do is ensure your shoppable content reflects your brand’s values, and if you can do that, you’ll find it much easier to attract and convert them.

As you would with your campaigns, website or physical locations, make sure your shoppable content strategy centers around your brand’s values and human side. If you can create content that connects with your audience, you'll find it much easier to attract and convert them. 

Want to find out what you can do to optimise your ecommerce efforts? CIM’s Ecommerce Optimisation training course has got you covered. You’ll learn how to leverage emerging technologies and apply user-centred design principles to help maximise conversion rates.

Sign up to CIM’s Ecommerce optimisation training course

Laura Bracher News analyst CIM
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