Shoppable content: Forever blurring the lines of content and commerce

But what if a reader wants to dive deeper, to explore beyond the featured content and know more about the props in the story or the pictures, or even more about the surrounding scenery? What if the reader wanted to purchase elements found in the narrative?  Welcome to the world of shoppable content, where a reader can enjoy content, while seamlessly creating a personal shopping list.

Shoppable ads

Wayfair ()

Shoppable ads are one manifestation of how the online retail experience is being advanced by technology. A key element to the technology its ability to eliminate barriers so a reader can move about a site without unnecessary new tabs or excessive extra actions. Even for the digitally savvy consumer, the movement between multiple platforms presents real barriers to shopping for items in the content.  It is right to assume consumers care little about platforms but to stay engaged, must be able to move seamlessly across them. In a recent Guardian article, titled Rise of shoppable content will change the face of advertising, Simon Hathaway stated “technology is resetting [our] expectations of retail and transforming shopping behaviour. We are getting used to being able to click on a product image and go into the buying process. Soon, we’ll expect to be able to buy any image we click on – and be frustrated if we can’t.”

Shoppable content 

Anything you see can be yours ()

The challenge to create a seamless shoppable content solution between platforms is especially problematic on mobile devices where consumers are increasingly leaning but the technology is less accommodating. One such solution comes from Zumobi, a Seattle based tech firm that aggregates a client’s multiple sites into a single mobile destination. Zumobi transforms a brand’s content from multiple sources, such as social media channels, video platforms, product information and content management systems, into a dynamic “flipboard like” mobile destination, dubbed a microzone. It enables shoppable content where readers can purchase items found in the microzone. 

Marla Schimke, vice president of marketing, Zumobi said, “Major brands [are] looking for technology to provide their consumers shoppable content to deliver a more engaging mobile experience that directly affects conversions and purchases. Shoppable content is the natural next step in marketing strategy.”

Shoppable content is fast transforming the way consumers shop. Currently there are a number of savvy retailers making their full-screen photography shoppable. This approach is gaining momentum in many style industries, from Kate Spade and home furnishings such as Habitat, to men’s brand such as John Varvatos.

“It’s not enough to have flat lookbooks — we have channels to fill and we need to produce great content,” said Nate Poeschl, director of digital marketing at John Varvatos. 

As a result, retailers and publishers alike are blurring the lines between what is content and what is commerce. Ultimately, both must drive conversions, and forward-thinking brands are working to reduce the friction between the content they produce and the purchasing process: They’re creating shoppable content.

Shoppable video

Once brands started making their content and images shoppable, it was only a matter of time before shoppable video followed. Among some early adopters of video platforms are mainstream retail brands like Target, Roots, Ralph Lauren, and eBags. 

One unexpected early adopter is Kmart – a low cost retailer who has developed a shoppable video called Madres y Comadres. This is an eight-part original Spanish-language miniseries focused on two Hispanic mothers and the unique challenges they face raising families in America while also remaining true to their Hispanic identity.

Madres y Comrades ()

Video has always been a powerful content tool. As reported in McKinsey research, “87 per cent of fashion brands that posted video in Q4 2015 garnered transaction rates of 1.6x or higher for video than the average post in the same period.”  The report goes on to highlight that the potential for interactive video is still relatively untapped. Currently, its primary use is as a traffic tool rather than a conversion platform.  Just 16 percent of brands with videos are producing shoppable video or shoppable content related to the video. 

Converting video to a shoppable platform remains an emerging technology. One of the first touchable video platform providers was Cinematique, featured in a 2014 FAST company article for their innovative concept of offering a touchable video player. They offer viewers the ability to seamlessly move between channels, platforms, devices and environments as they explore.

“For content creators, not only does [Cinematique] allow them to monetize the viral spread of their videos, it also allows them to use the analytics, which are more powerful than regular video analytics, to decide which parts of the campaign are successful, to see which parts users want to re-engage, and how to go forward,” said Cinematique cofounder Randy Ross.

As the technologies become more widespread, shoppable content and videos, with their attached or embedded links and purchase opportunities, mean that companies can now combine messaging and commerce strategies within a single platform. The embedded links enable monetisation while the medium is free to serve its most valuable purpose: To tell stories and build an emotional connection with the audience.

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