Innovation is disrupting and redefining retail as never before. A convergent media landscape, created by fast-changing technologies, has increasingly blurred the boundaries between media, social networks and retail.
The combination of advances in technology and shifting consumer’ expectations has resulted in e-commerce increasingly meaning “everywhere-commerce”.
Tech innovation has led to the emergence of the always-on consumer, who expects goods to be just a single tap away, and to be able to effortlessly shop across a multitude of channels, at the right time and in the most convenient place - a phenomenon accelerated by the rise of mobile commerce, which is set to exceed £15bn in the UK this year.
To address this consumer need, tech and social media companies are looking into new methods of shortening the path to purchase, laying the foundations for the creation of an everywhere commerce ecosystem.
In recent weeks several media / tech companies have made a foray into this space, evolving from pure media players into digital commerce game changers. For example, YouTube has recently launched click-and-buy video adverts, allowing consumers to buy products directly from the video ads they are watching.
As part of its attempt to take on Amazon and eBay, Google has revealed plans to embed a “buy button” to its search results, enabling consumers to make purchases without needing to visit an alternative site.
Pinterest is planning to introduce a “buy button” on its platform too, whilst Twitter and Facebook have been testing one since last year.
For brands existing in the retail space, it’s clear that e-commerce, mobile commerce or ‘everywhere commerce’ is critical to the successful growth of their business. Take Mondelez, Diageo, and AB InBev, for example, which as businesses generally don’t sell directly to consumers, but they are now looking into how all forms of digital commerce can deliver growth, and it’s here that the role of media has never been clearer in driving direct business value.
Mondelez has recently embedded a ‘buy it now’ button into the brand’s online media, allowing customers to buy their favourite snacks directly from online video advertising, online promotions and social media.
Retailers looking to harness the power of convergent commerce need to follow five principles:
- Brilliant basics: retailers must focus on accessibility. Search, marketing and addressing any failings in mobile optimisation are crucial. This has become even more important since the introduction of the new Google’s search algorithm, which will show only ‘mobile friendly’ websites on its search results.
- Smarter media: retailers must deploy data to ensure effective targeting strategies. These will help retailers engage with the right people with the right message, and then create the opportunity for consumers to buy within media rather than just driving them to point-of-sale. Mobile technology has added a shoppable layer to most media channels, such as digital out-of-home or television, allowing us to add a shopping basket within ad units, tweet to purchase, support micropayments, pre-ordering, group purchases, and many other forms of sale. With technologies like Sky AdSmart, programmatic buying and second-screening, we’re reaching a point where we can personalise TV advertising as never before, enabling consumers to purchase the products they are watching on the screen without even entering credit card details, and have them in their hands within the hour.
- Constant innovation: retailers must constantly test and learn, experimenting with new channels, technologies, distribution models, partnerships, content and creative thinking. Insights from testing new approaches are always valuable.
- Holistic evaluation: in an everywhere-commerce environment, retailers need to have a strong understanding of which touch-points within their ecosystem are delivering against which KPIs, and how the network is performing holistically. A data-led evaluation framework enables retailers to optimise the entire operation around channels that truly work.
- Internal collaboration: existing barriers between internal departments need to be broken down. There is a lot of crossover between product, trading, commerce and marketing, and integrated thinking and shared objectives have become a must for retailers wanting to meet expectations and needs of a consumer with an on-demand mindset.
Matthew Knight, Head of Strategic Innovation, global media agency Carat