We recently published a report ‘How to Drive Digital Experience that Sells’ based on Gartner’s content and commerce research. Jasper Bell, Digital & Commerce Strategy Consultant at our Global Solution Partner, Amaze, who delivers commerce, digital transformation and marketing strategies, expresses his views on when commerce meets content.
In her 2014 trends presentation Mary Meeker spoke of the internet ‘trifecta’ of content, community and commerce. Her message was simple, a new breed of business model is emerging which combines content, community and commerce to dramatically improve the consumer discovery and shopping experience online. Sites like Houzz and Polyvore are putting themselves at the centre of their industries using this ‘trifecta’.
It’s true, disruptors are blurring the boundaries between digital experience and online selling. Whilst not the only ingredient to success, well crafted and expertly positioned content is a key driving force. Products don’t sell themselves, context, provided by timely content, is critical, particularly if you can’t sell at the cheapest price point.
Content, visual, editorial and social, has become a key differentiator in eCommerce. It attracts customers to a brand, helps galvanise action and allows the relationship to flourish through the long conversation.
Sounds straightforward right? Create it, make it look nice, publish it and wait?
Sadly not. There are two (related) problems …
The first (and most obvious) problem is the deluge of bad content out there. Everyone is in the content development game, SEO folks, PR’s, product managers, and merchandisers - all worthy contributors but not customer experts. The result? More content but not necessarily content that supports the brand, customer or journey.
Cleverly constructed content can play more than one role, improving natural visibility, selling a customer on WHY they should buy from that brand and during the purchase funnel, validating the customer’s decision. Content doesn't need to be a one-trick-pony.
A recent McKinsey article highlighted the failure of a global consumer products company to take advantage of content to support eCommerce. Whilst investment in content production rose 25% year on year there was no unifying strategy, governance, or system to create cohesion, reuse assets or measure effectiveness across the company’s supply chain, agencies, production companies and media partners, producing material for websites, blogs, YouTube, social media, mobile, AND sales.
This is a common issue for many businesses. Manufacturers are awash with content, retailers lack it, but neither are doing a good job of organising it.
So, what is the solution? How can eCommerce operators successfully combine content and commerce to sell more?
Let’s get one thing straight, technology is only part of the solution. Whilst hugely powerful, technologies such as ‘content as a service’ (publish a single piece of content in many touch points for greater consistency and reuse) and personalisation are useless without a clear strategy that tackles both content and commerce.
To make it work businesses need to develop a customer-first strategy that identifies and responds to shopper motivation at each point in the journey, bringing the right content to bear when it matters.
This strategy needs to be governed by a small group of owners able to develop and optimise content for specific journey moments, considering context and device and integration with inventory.
This will help equip eCommerce businesses to do more than simply grow sales, it will help them stand out in a sea of commerce parity and be remembered. Remember, no strategy, no trifecta!