Whilst content marketing has emerged as a powerful means of earning long-term consumer awareness and trust in the digital age, another ecommerce trend has seen brands taking a far more direct approach, focussed on instant results for both retailers and consumers.
So called ‘shoppable marketing’ basically describes any form of interactive content that allows consumers to directly interact with and purchase related products.
Although linking from content to relevant products online is nothing new, the latest wave of shoppable content takes increasingly sophisticated formats and methods for stitching together the traditionally fragmented ‘awareness-consideration-purchase’ customer funnel into one seamless experience.
Let’s take a look at some of the most striking examples of shoppable marketing in action, and consider how we can apply some of these techniques in our own marketing efforts.
Think that print is dead as an influential marketing medium? Think again. Traditional magazines and marketing collateral have been given a new lease of life in recent years, bridging the gap between offline and online content in the process.
For example, in 2014 Net-A-Porter launched a shoppable magazine, with customers able to scan every page using the mobile app and be taken to relevant wider content, product information or indeed, purchasing options.
The magazine has proven a huge success. Tess Macleod Smith, VP of Publishing & Media at Net-A-Porter recently stated that 85 per cent of Net-A-Porter’s audience say that print is the number one influencer of their purchasing decisions. A great example of how the most traditional format of all can be reimagined in the digital age.
Shoppable high street windows
Window shopping no longer only refers to casual browsing without commitment to a purchase. Various brands have been trialling out integration of digital tech into their physical store fronts in an attempt to lure customers into a commitment to buy, without ever having to step inside (well, except perhaps to collect).
During the Black Friday sales, House of Fraser installed augmented reality tech in their shop windows, which allowed customers to scan shapes using the store’s app to access a full list of available deals. Customers were then able to make a transaction on their mobiles, and collect at a convenient moment, saving them the hassle of fighting the crowds and queues, in-store.
Other brands such as Adidas and Tesco have followed suit with similar shop window experiments.
Video is the thing in marketing, right now. It’s a format, which by its nature is interactive and lends itself well to participation. So no surprises to learn that video has been front and centre of people’s thinking when it comes to shoppable content.
One particular brand that’s been leading the way is Ted Baker. To promote its 2016 autumn/winter range, they launched a three-minute short film titled ‘Mission Impeccable’.
As the name suggests, the film takes inspiration from the big-budget spy thriller movie genre, with spy agency ‘T.E.D’ deploying sharply-dressed agents to avert the world from fashion catastrophe.
A great bit of cinematic fun to capture viewers’ attention — but there’s more. Every item of clothing in the ad is clickable, taking the viewer to the relevant product page on Ted Baker. This type of highly interactive video content is surely set to become more and more common in the future.
Instagram shoppable tags
The photo-based social media giant has proven to be a retail discovery haven for so many brands, and Instagram just made it even easier for businesses to seamlessly offer products within the app.
They recently trial launched a feature called shoppable tags, which allows retailers to attach a ‘tap to view’ label on all photos containing relevant products. As you’d expect, when the user taps on the tag, a product details page is displayed within the app, including price, description, additional photos, and a “Shop Now” button to buy right away.
The fact that the entire experience is housed within the Instagram app (rather than linking out to an external site) is particularly impressive and feels like a win-win for Instagram, brands and consumers, alike. Mindful of the fact that few users would be willing to buy completely on impulse after a first peek at a product, Instagram is planning to introduce a ‘save later’ bookmarking feature as part of its wider roll out of shoppable tags. One to keep a close eye on.
Google’s "similar items" feature via image search
Never one to miss a beat, Google recently began integrating a handy ecommerce feature into its image search results.
Now, when you run any image search that happens to include purchasable items (most obviously, items of clothing, homeware or gadgets), the search engine will automatically generate a list of links to relevant sites from which to buy — if not the very same item as in the photo, then suggested similar items.
As this article from The Verge suggests, this latest feature starts to see Google make moves into Pinterest’s raison d'être, providing another potentially powerful and influential revenue stream for Google and advertisers. It will be interesting to see how this one evolves.
Shoppable content is an ever-evolving trend that’s already throwing up some pretty fascinating concepts and ideas.
Whilst some of them may err a little on the side of gimmicky, the above examples provide plenty of food for thought for any retail marketers who are serious about keeping up with the online habits and expectations of their customers.
Through continued trial-and-error experimentation, we fully expect shoppable marketing to continue to evolve and offer an increasing number of options for consumers to connect with products in new, imaginative and sophisticated ways.