One-Click Wonder: Shoppable Content in the Age of Self-Isolation and Beyond
The world is adjusting to life in self-isolation, with many people working from home and stores shutting their doors. Brick-and-mortar stores are no longer an option for many retailers, with over 15,000 shops in the U.S. are estimated to close this year due to COVID-19. As the commerce industry acclimates to this new normal, those who can must continue to innovate. No stranger to adaptation, retailers can surpass some of society's new hurdles by experimenting with "shoppable" content, allowing brands to better engage consumers on their preferred platforms and driving deeper product consideration and conversions.
A Critical Moment for E-Commerce Innovation
In today’s digitally connected world, brands have increasingly moved towards unified online shopping experiences. E-commerce is an essential part of our economy, with online sales growing steadily over the past decade — and seeing a 15 percent increase in 2019 alone. Self-isolation will only boost this figure.
With in-store purchasing on pause for the foreseeable future, brands must enhance their e-commerce experiences, adding interactive capabilities that engage consumers and drive sales. Retailers can experiment with shoppable content such as augmented reality-powered ads, click-and-purchase social media posts, and interactive video that allows consumers to directly purchase products displayed on the screen. These offerings help brands reach wider audiences and give shoppers confidence in a time of uncertainty.
Try it (With AR) Before You Buy it
Interactivity makes shopping easier for consumers, regardless of their location. Brands are already tapping into AR to allow shoppers to virtually sample products, like makeup or lip gloss, and see the hottest fashion items in-use before purchasing. However, with people now in quarantine, retailers still have room to innovate with ad tech and launch sites that virtually bring products into our homes. From new outfits to living room furniture, AR will provide the ability to get up close and personal before purchasing, without sacrificing the intimacy of shopping.
Leverage Social Media During Social Distancing
With consumers spending more time at home and on social media, brands have greater access to potential shoppers and room to expand their e-commerce toolboxes. Two-thirds of social media users believe their usage will rise while quarantined, and 99 percent expect to make an online purchase. Retailers should capitalize on consumers’ attention with friction-less experiences that engage in the moment. Many are already rising to the occasion. Commerce platform MikMak, for example, allows retailers to integrate shopping carts into in-app ads. Brands can lean into our social media surge by weaving in click-and-purchase features to make shopping more seamless, while building deeper loyalty.
I’ll Have What She’s Wearing
Streaming is a big winner of our self-isolation, with stream time expected to increase by up to 60 percent during the pandemic. As more people turn to video for entertainment, retailers can create interactive experiences that complement, rather than interrupt, viewing. Fashion retailer Pomelo recently debuted a shoppable livestream feature that enables viewers to purchase items they see, without pausing or exiting the video. Shoppable streaming lets consumers see products in-use and find shopping inspiration in real time, which is essential for converting sales while shoppers stay home.
Some Final Thoughts
Although in-store shopping has paused, the retail industry can seize this moment and get creative with the technology at their disposal. The seeds of AR, social commerce, and shoppable streaming were planted before this pandemic. With quarantines in place and many business operations on hold, now is the time for retail leaders to experiment. The silver lining for our industry is that we have a unique opportunity to innovate, not stagnate, and leverage interactive technology for a much-needed, more engaging shopping experience.
Rose Tsou is head of e-commerce and international at Verizon Media, a strategic digital solutions provider.
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