In today’s digital age, content is increasingly being viewed as a primary factor behind purchasing decisions in e-commerce. Seth Godin famously explained the reason behind this phenomenon, pointing out that people don’t want to buy goods and services — instead, they want to buy relations, stories, and magic. And the marketers of the 21st century are choosing to plant magic into content, deftly cultivating it in order to produce a new ‘crop’ of customers. The result? More and more brands are getting serious about content, favouring it over ads, as suggested in the new report by ScribbleLive. In other words, content in e-commerce is now thriving.
But when it comes to content and e-commerce, it appears that these two have previously existed quite separately from one another. Yes, there were stories accompanying products even before ‘content marketing’ became a trend, but the truth is, those stories were never fully integrated in the shopping process. And vice versa — products were never fully integrated into the storytelling process, either.
Things, however, changed dramatically when content became shoppable.
What is shoppable content?
In simple terms, shoppable content is any type of content (i.e. videos, articles, images, etc.) that provides a direct purchasing opportunity and allows consumers to either add products to cart directly from what they are viewing, or be taken to a product page and continue to shop from there.
The key idea of shoppable content is to satisfy the immediate purchasing desire that content creates in the heart of the readers. Think, for example, about all those times when you were reading a magazine, flicking through its glossy pages with gorgeous models wearing beautiful things, and thinking “Hey! I want that!” — and not being able to do anything about it. Traditional content formats aren’t capable of satisfying whimsical desires.
That’s a great example of how, from a reader’s perspective, content can be disappointing rather than fulfilling — and, from a commercial perspective, miss the sales goals entirely.
Even in digital magazines or blogs, the journey from content to commerce could take a long while: the reader still has to go through several steps to actually buy a product that he or she is interested in. But if content becomes instantly shoppable, i.e. if the buying funnel is simplified, the “shopping queue” simply ceases to exist. All it takes is for the customer to click, add the product to a shopping cart, and keep reading the article.
But, let’s delve into this a bit further. The thing is, content marketing is no longer about pure content. As before, people do want to get additional value out of it (i.e. education, emotion, etc.), but now, they also want to be entertained before making a purchasing commitment. Therefore, content becomes more interactive than it was ever before. That’s why gifs are so damn popular, why videos are taking over the content world, and why content itself is rapidly becoming shoppable.
According to the DemandGen report, 91% of buyers prefer interactive, visual content that can be accessed on demand. And moreover, people actually expect the editors, publishers and bloggers to tell them where to buy what they just read about on their websites — so there’s nothing wrong with crossing the line between content and commerce, so long as it adds utility to the reader.
This is exactly when the question of integrity and transparency of your content starts to matter more than it ever did before. Shoppable content has created a democratic, open marketplace, so staying true to yourself — and being honest with your readers — is essential.
The types of shoppable content
Although shoppable content is quite a new trend, you can see it pretty much everywhere in the e-commerce industry. Take Net-A-Porter, for instance. It’s a huge luxury fashion e-tailer that was the first one to embrace content marketing as such. Not that long ago, they created two digital editorials called The Edit, for women, and The Journal, for men. They look like any other online magazine, with the exception that all fashion pieces featured are directly shoppable. So, with one click, the reader gets redirected to the relevant product page.
Another approach, perhaps a slightly more elegant one, is to integrate the shoppability feature so seamlessly that it doesn’t interrupt the reading experience. People can keep engaging themselves in content, adding pieces to the shopping cart, and go on reading, able to get to the end of the story. So if the click is based on whimsical inspiration, the remaining part of the content provides a final incentive to go through with the purchase at the end.
Speedo, an international swimwear brand, can serve as a perfect example of how theory works in practice. Their shoppable approach lies in creating content pieces such as interviews with athletes, inspirational articles on the benefits of swimming, and more (all about 1000 words) and subtly integrating relevant products inside articles in such a way that they don’t intervene with the flow of the text itself.
Some brands are even taking a step further and creating interactive shoppable videos — like Marks and Spencer, the famous British department store. To debut their new denim collection, they created a video that allowed viewers to click on the screen and purchase immediately.
Other brands are harnessing the power of shoppable photography — like One Kings Lane, a brand for interior design, which displays gorgeous, shoppable images on their website. You look at those pictures, you get inspired, you click, and you’re ready to shop. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.
And it’s not only articles, videos, and photos that are undergoing the “shoppability” test at the moment: social media, with its buyable pins and shoppable Instas, is also tagging along, clearly showing that it’s not the question of WHEN and IF brands should embrace the shoppable trend, but rather the question of HOW?
The road to commerce is paved with content
While far from being the norm (yet), shoppable content is rapidly transforming the e-commerce scene — not to mention the Internet as a whole — so we’ll definitely see more examples coming from all kinds of brands. This is simply because brands need to be where the customers are, and modern, millennial customers want everything to be instantly accessible and on demand. They’re armed with iPhones and smart technology and have a high expectation of how products should be presented as well as how fast they should be accessed.
Traditional content marketing isn’t enough anymore. Unless, of course, there’s a new trend that suddenly appears on the horizon — something that’s even more interactive and more engaging than shoppable content.
Post contributed by Styla. Learn more at styla.com!