The ‘digital revolution’ has made consumers lazy. We can now buy anything and everything without even leaving the house, and technological advances are only going to make us lazier. Social media streams are being linked to ecommerce platforms, consumers are using shopping apps more regularly and shoppable content is on the rise. Dial up connections are gone and 25% of visitors now leave a web page if it doesn’t load within 4 seconds; in the same way, shopping needs to be quick and it needs to be easy.
Content marketing and social mediaUntil recently, Instagram did not allow brands to link to their ecommerce platform directly from paid advertising within their app. They now allow ‘buy’ buttons for adverts featured on their site. Facebook have also been trialling ‘buy now’ buttons in the US, to allow users to buy products from other brands’ sites without leaving their app. The site encrypts payment details for user security. Twitter quickly followed in Facebook’s footsteps to increase their paid advertising offering. They have teamed with the Shopify and Demandware ecommerce platforms to also introduce a ‘buy’ button to adverts on their site this month. These changes are reflective of consumer demand; they want a seamless experience from app to purchase and retail brands need to adjust their social media strategy to reflect this.
Content marketing and appsForrester reported that over 85% of time spent on mobile is spent in apps. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter contribute to a significant proportion of this time but there are also a wealth of other apps available, such as those for navigation or gaming, and some which are helping people shop. Across the board app usage is on the rise – up 76% year-on-year for 2013/2014 and shopping and lifestyle apps are the most rapidly growing usage category at 174% (source: Flurry Analytics). For brands such as Amazon or Forever 21, this has entailed the creation of brand specific shopping apps for their following. Native apps have advantages such as the ability to push notifications, allow offline use and provide convenient access from a mobile’s home screen. Forbes recently reported that half of 18 to 34 years olds surveyed have downloaded a fashion app – clearly brands cannot ignore the importance of this figure. Native app development is something that brands need to think about including in their content marketing strategy. On the other hand, a wealth of non-native fashion apps help people find the products they want more rapidly by combining information from a range of different brands. For this reason app integration is also an important area brands need to consider. One app, PS Dept, brings personal shoppers to users’ mobile phones. The app consults a real-life team of personal shoppers to search out items in stores, collating the products to allow users to purchase them via one checkout for delivery. For a more user-led approach to shopping, Mallzee lists products from over 100 retailers allowing users to up and down-vote items, save outfits to receive a notification if items drop in price and search clothes via trends and occasions. App-based technical tools also help with product search, such as emailing users links to buy the products featured in Instagram photographs they have liked (Like to Know It), or visual search to help users find the item they want simply from an uploaded image (Snap Fashion). Brands need to be aware of other apps which are used by their target market and ensure that their products are being featured in their search results.
Content marketing and shoppable contentApps are not the only type of content being integrated with ecommerce platforms. A diverse range of online and offline media are being turned into shoppable content. Integration is the key, just as consumers want to be able to buy products directly from a social media stream, they also want to be able to buy via their television or download an app via a 6-sheet advert. These options are all now a reality and keep evolving, for example AFA JCDecaux has recently expanded their outdoor advertising offering in Denmark, introducing technology making not only 6-sheets, but also making billboards shoppable. Ted Baker recently launched a virtual version of their flagship store in Shoreditch, again fully shoppable. Ralph Lauren have prided themselves at being at the forefront of digital advertising. Previously they have engaged their customers using an app allowing them to create personalised items which they could then share to a touch screen in ‘Rugby Ralph Lauren’ stores – linking mcommerce to in-store purchasing. They also cleverly used Proxama’s ‘TapPoint’ software to make their window displays at Harrods fully shoppable. This campaign worked in unison with Harrods, providing customers with a map to the location of the product in-store or with a link to the products on the Harrods online store. Other retail brands have taken advantage of video tagging software to allow customers to buy products directly from video content. For example, Puma and Levi are just two of many brands who have used technology to allow viewers of their Youtube channel to buy products from the video stream. Alternatively, H&M made their Super Bowl advert shoppable on smart TVs, simply with a click of a remote. The buzzword here is ‘omni-channel’ – which aims to ensure that a customer has a consistent experience and brand message across all channels. Clever content marketing - linking social, apps, online and offline - is a key way that brands can be at the forefront of integrated marketing. Retails brands should consider:
- Enabling customers to purchase via social media
- Development of native shopping apps
- Integration with other shopping apps
- Creating shoppable content