Commerce has evolved. Where once a shopper may flip through a magazine, or glare mindlessly at a TV commercial, they’re now digitally savvy and taking shopping into their own hands. Social shopping, marketplaces, apps, mobile stores and kiosks hold their own against retail storefronts, and shoppers can easily navigate their own shopper journey to procure their needs and wants.
So where does this leave retailers?
Stand aside, Boston Computer Exchange – the new wave of retail is here. The pandemic brought forward not only years worth of digital transformation but also consumer acceptance; consumers are technologically enlightened, and retailers need to work harder to earn their dollar. Not only have we seen the explosion of online shopping, but welcomed many new shoppers into our digital world. Established and new online shoppers are discovering new ways to shop; they’re making more considered choices and exploring the many, many options available to them.
The new wave of retail is all about content and experience; most importantly product content, and brand experience.
When we look at product content, we need to look at the shopper journey and what is required at each moment of truth. Product content is much more than a simple description of ‘blue tie with yellow dots’ – oh, how we’ve evolved!
Optimising the Path to Purchase with Product Content
- Product data: size, colour, style, weight, texture – all your basic product attributes that are searchable and structured.
- Product imagery: show the features of the product, in situ and flat lay, use various sized models (for fashion and apparel) and drill down on its unique selling points.
- Stock availability: is there stock available, and where is it? Can I click & collect? How many items are left (create a sense of urgency!)
Also important to remember in the Discovery Phase is where this information is served up. A website – yes – but what about marketplaces, sales channels, digital advertising? Ensuring content is consistent across all channels is vital to an amazing brand experience.
- Enriched content: fabric, care instructions, ingredients – this level of detail gives the customer an idea of how the product can be used and maintained.
- Reviews: user generated content is one of the best forms of content you can have on your product page. Actual feedback from actual customers can help get the sale over the line. Encourage specific commentary; how does it fit? Does it run small / large? How does it feel?
- Price consistency: Shoppers are going to price shop. If you’re publishing your products across multiple sales channels, ensure consistency of not only product content, but also pricing.
3. Conversion / Purchase
- Inventory availability and location: Where is the product relative to the customer? What shipping options are available? Can I Click & Collect?
- Returns policy process: Be very clear on your returns policy – over 63% of consumers check out a retailer’s return policy prior to making a purchase decision, and 62% won’t buy from a retailer that doesn’t offer free returns. A generous and clear returns policy will help increase conversions and instil loyalty
- Payment options: Be sure to offer plenty of options – online payment methods such as PayPal, credit card, direct debit, buy now, pay later and more.
Rich product content is the magic behind ecommerce success. A robust and powerful PIM (product information manager) will manage and automate your product data, ensuring accuracy, consistency and completeness. A top solution will also tailor product information specifically for external applications, marketplaces and additional sales channels.
Level Up Your Product Content with Blended Commerce
Product content is the secret sauce to getting products found and sold. Product discoverability is largely based on SEO-specific keywords, or product attributes. But the future is her; welcome to the brave new world of blended content, creating remarkable experiences for consumers.
Blended content is the practice of blending content, such as blog posts, with your product pages. Australian beauty retailer, Adore Beauty, does an amazing job at blending their content with commerce through shoppable blog posts and more:
Blending blog content with their podcast:
And adding shopping links directly within their content:
Infusing blended, personalised content with your product content will help consumers make informed purchasing decisions, drive conversions, and reduce returns. Shoppers are engaged in your full brand experience; they’re brought into your brand bubble and feel a connection – something product attributes alone cannot achieve.
The Next Big Thing: Social Commerce
Social Commerce is the blending of social media and ecommerce, and brands need to start taking notice. TikTok’s GM of North America Solutions, Sandie Hawkins, commented on social commerce: “It’s word of mouth on steroids”. And she’s not wrong!
- 130 million Instagrammers tap on shopping posts every month
- 70% of consumers search for products they need to buy on Instagram and Facebook
- 71% of online shoppers will recommend the brand they bought on social media
- Around half of all US social media users aged 18 – 34 will make at least one social commerce purchase
- Facebook is the top social commerce platform in the US, boasting 56.1 millions buyers
- China will generate $131.52B in livestreaming social commerce sales in 2021
- US social commerce sales are expected to reach $45.74 billion this year, with more than a half of the country’s adults making a purchase on social media
- Social commerce will grow three times as fast as traditional ecommerce, more than doubling from $492 billion worldwide in 2021 to $1.2 trillion in 2025
Retailers need to embrace social content and ensure it plays a starring role in their product content strategy. While the “content” has shifted to user-generated, businesses still need to encourage it’s creation, and then saturate their own product content with it.
US power brand, Glossier, has built their business with a “content first, content always” strategy, which is their main driver of growth. Glossier-produced content combines how-to guides with product-as-hero posts, answering specific beauty issues. An abundance of user-generated-content validates and authenticates the company’s products and posts and the content then generates conversations. The company shares content on their “Into The Gloss” blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram. Glossier’s success is credited to these 5Cs: Consumers, Content, Conversations, Co-Creation, Community.
Each Glossier product page contains:
- Product title
- Robust product description
- Shared attributes, such as ‘cruelty free’ and ‘buildable’
- Colours or shades
- Images / video
- Product image
- It situ images (products on different skin tones)
- Product ‘how to’ video
- Complimentary products (upsell)
- How to Use detail
- Filterable reviews
- Social posts “See it IRL”:
This complete and built-for-conversions product pages draws data from many sources to create a product experience without actually physically touching the product.
“The main thing Glossier stands for is the power of the individual to choose their own style, to make connections with other people, to ask questions, to understand better the things that they may want. Glossier exists purely to serve what we hear from those people about what they want.”
President and CFO, Glossier
Doubling Down on Content: 3 Tips For Retailers
- Invest in the technology today to set you up for the future. A PIM for ecommerce will help you manage the vast amounts of data needed, ensuring it’s complete and consistent. The technology will also help automate commerce processes, making it easier and freeing up internal resources for other growth opportunities.
- Connect your commerce ecosystem. Understand how data flows in and out of your business systems, and what data transformation is needed. Consider if a composable solution is right for your business.
- Understand where your customers are and ensure you’re offering an amazing brand experience there. What social channels are relevant to your brand? What are customers saying about you and your products, and how can this user-generated content be used to increase conversions.
Karlie Taylor is an experienced B2B marketer specializing in the online retail and ecommerce technology space. With over 8 years of experience in the industry, Karlie has worked with technology start-ups Temando and Zip Co and is currently Marketing Manager for Comestri.