Blurred lines: the changing eCommerce landscape P1

Is your brand struggling to reach consumers in what some are calling a “post-eCommerce world?” In this two-part series, learn about the current trends we see re-shaping the eCommerce landscape and how they could affect your business.  

In Part 1, we look at how brands are leveraging their social followings by creating “shoppable” content, essentially integrating eCommerce functionality to create seamless social shopping experiences. Not only does this approach iron out previous bumps in the purchase flow from social, but it may also reduce your brand’s reliance on traditional advertising. According to the New York Times,consumers’ use of ad blockers is rising sharply, which means brands are going to have to come up with more creative and subtle ways to reach consumers.  

Shoppable videos

So you’ve been steadily growing your social media following for years. Great! But are your followers generating conversions? It can be hard for marketers to justify hefty social media investments when they aren’t translating into direct financial gains. According to a 2016 report covered by Adweek, Pinterest and Facebook only contribute an average of 1.5% of retailers’ purchases. Lengthy paths to purchase discourage would-be consumers from completing transactions, but new developments and innovative third-party platforms are making it easier and more cost-effective for brands to turn their social media feeds into virtual storefronts.

For example, MikMak, a platform that creates, distributes and measures shoppable video campaigns, launched a new product, MikMak Attach, in 2017 that allows brands to turn Instagram and Snapchat stories into storefronts. Though it seems initially targeted at beauty retailers (beta testers for the product included Birchbox, Dr. Brandt Skincare, Beautyblender and SheaMoisture), we think it could hold a great deal of potential for other sectors.

If you haven’t seen it yourself, it works like this: from a story, consumers are invited to “swipe up”, which reveals more information and a “buy now” button for the product featured. Consumers can then continue through the checkout process without having to open their browser and navigate to the retailer’s website. The integration offers multiple payment options including PayPal and Apple Pay for those loath to give yet another site their credit card details.

Kate Spade, a clothing and accessories label, approached the shoppable content trend from a unique angle with its 2016 holiday video campaign featuring actress Anna Kendrick. Recognizing that viewers don’t want to interrupt their viewing to check out, the brand configured product tags within the video to operate like bookmarks. So essentially, consumers can click products in the video while it plays to bookmark the products shown, and at the end of the video, the selected products are displayed with links to purchase the items from product pages on the Kate Spade website.

User-generated content

When it comes to what you include in your shoppable content, user-generated content (UGC) might be something to consider. UGC has long been valued for supporting a brand’s credibility and authenticity. Now brands are capitalizing on user-generated content with the help of new platforms that make it easier to turn UGC into more appealing social media ads.

Digital marketing platform YOTPO launched a new feature in late 2016 that helps brands turn fan photos on Instagram into ads that blend right into their feeds. The company can also help brands capture other user-generated content like reviews, which brands can turn into ads on a variety of platforms including Facebook (see example). Additionally, YOTPO offers a product similar to MikMak Attach (see above), which allows users to check out on Instagram without opening a browser. YOTPO just might be your one-stop-shop for creating effective shoppable social content.

Shoppable social gaming 

Not dissimilar to shoppable social media is shoppable gaming, another trend we’ve been watching. According to market researcher Newzoo as quoted in VentureBeat, in 2016, 82 percent of the 44.8 billon USD (34.9 GPB) global mobile app market came from gaming, with China leading the way in mobile app revenue generation.

Brands have traditionally placed ads either around the game or embedded within the game to take advantage of this sizable consumer segment. However, similar to the challenges that have hampered social media consumers, the pathway to purchase was awkward and indirect. In 2017, the ubiquitous eCommerce software company Shopify introduced a solution.

Shopify’s new software development kit (SDK) called Unit Buy gives game developers the ability to add support for sales of physical goods within a game. It gives developers the freedom to create custom storefronts powered by Shoptify’s eCommerce capabilities such as viewing products, adding to cart, and checking out; allows payment via Apple and Android Pay; and works across mobile, console and PC platforms.

This integration feature from Shoptify is still fairly new but we did find at least one example of it in use: Alto’s Adventure, which takes gamers on a snowboarding odyssey, sells branded T-shirts and character-themed merchandise from within the game using the SDK. By integrating the buying experience within the game,reviews claim that  Alto’s Adventure has created an experience that feels like an authentic part of the game’s universe.

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