Posts categorized ‘Commerce’
“Social Commerce” is a phrase-de-jour that gets tossed around a lot in tech and digital marketing circles. It’s exactly like it sounds: the convergence of social media and e-commerce, blending the behaviors associated with both. It seems like an inevitable fit given today’s landscape, but does it hold any weight?
(photo: WikiMedia Commons)
Let’s be clear what we are focusing on: social media behavior that includes a purchase, OR a purchase process that includes a component of social behavior (commenting, interacting, sharing, etc…)
So what’s truly impactful and what’s just clouding our vision in the digital landscape? It’s hard to tell, but here’s some of what to watch for (and what to avoid) in 2014.
For starters, seemingly everything is noise today with social commerce. There are thousands of social commerce apps and sites, but there’s a reason why none of them are becoming household names like Google, Facebook, or Square. While it seems like such a natural fit, it’s still very difficult to capitalize on that fit in a way that will boost revenue.
Likes, favorites, and re-tweets, while exciting for any social media marketer, do not indicate a purchase or increased intent to purchase. These actions require very little of the user, and don’t return much information.
Social action as a whole is considered dubious by some when trying to connect it to dollars and cents. Just consider this: social media drove just 1 percent of all black Friday online sales two weeks ago.
Despite doubts about the impact of social action on commerce, opportunities exist for those that take the right approach. Here are a few social networks and strategies to keep an eye on as we move into 2014.
Targeted Facebook Product Displays based on previous behavior offer real opportunity. If you view a product on a brand’s site, you might see that product pop up on your Facebook news feed (as long as your cookies and log-ins are not cleared). Stats suggest that about one third of all conversions occur 30 days after online research began, so feeding them a product page or display that they’ve previously viewed makes sense. This might be more targeted advertising than it is true social commerce, but it can actually move the dial and be effective.
Another interesting Facebook tactic is embedding a shoppable publication into that channel or any other channel that makes sense. It’s a great way to first increase viewership and then encourage purchases. Essentially, a catalog, magazine, or lookbook lives on the social network page, retaining all of its functionality of page-flipping, zoom in/out, and add-to-cart. Using social as the “canvas” upon which to present your own digital content allows the user to experience that publication on a channel with which he/she is already comfortable and prefers, increasing the likelihood of engagement and conversion.
Pinterest is another channel presenting an interesting opportunity to link social and commerce. It is a tangible way to link the social “pinning” experience with product & e-commerce infrastructure. Product photos and brand photos can be shared on pinboards while they are linked directly to the product page from which the product can be purchased. So the inspiration happens on Pinterest, and the purchase process is enabled right around the corner. With Pinterest recently opening up its site to e-commerce giants like Zappos and Walmart, the connection looks to be growing stronger moving forward.
Much like a Zmags digital catalog, Pinterest works well for the shopping experience because users (or brands) can build outfits, themes, and collections, crafting the experience for customers in a way that a product page could not.
What does the future hold for social commerce? Considering how hazy the present is, no one should pretend to know exactly where it’s headed. Still, a strategy like embedding shoppable publications into popular social channels and enabling sharing and commenting feels viable moving forward. As does social behavior on Pinterest, with its direct link to product.
Will digital catalogs become more social, or “pin-able” moving forward? At this point, we must not rule anything out. We also must be cautious in declaring the “next big thing!” in social commerce, because there is so much noise around this topic today.
What’s the secret to building a successful commerce channel across Facebook and other social platforms? Well, there’s no secret, really — with the right approach and the right tools, you can quickly build a captivating digital experience for your target audience. Here are four tips to get started:
1. Enable consumers to immerse themselves in your brand.
The best online shopping experiences deliver more than just an index of products.
They provide a complete, cross-platform ecosystem of content and context to create a compelling story about how those products look or how they can be used in the real world. Such an experience will hinge on two characteristics: engaging and seamless:
- Captive video, dynamic audio effects and clean animations can add a level of excitement to the shopping experience. The ability to customize product views and features such as “buy the collection” buttons can drive more items into the shopping cart. Imagine a customer who says, “I want everything that model is wearing” — and purchases all of the items with a single click.
- A seamless check-out process, in which consumers don’t have to leave Facebook or whichever platform or device they’re shopping from to complete their order, will not only delight the customer, but also improve the rate of completed transactions, and very likely the return rate as well.
Collectively, these features will enable you to deliver a rich, immersive brand experience that is consistent across all digital touchpoints — more like a scene than a screen.
2. Build a commerce presence where your best customers meet to browse, discover, and share.
Facebook is the largest social network, but certainly not the only one. As a brand, it’s important for your marketing team to identify other platforms that have a large contingent of your target audience and consider setting up storefronts on these platforms. Emerging
social bookmarking services
such as Pinterest and The Fancy,
for example, are gaining large contingents of followers who gather, share (“pin” or “fancy”) and discuss items of common interest.
Encouraging a Pinterest “pin” from your fans on your own “pinboards” will expose your products to a broader audience. Building a community increases brand affinity, and will smooth the path to purchase. By using an experience
that delights customers and
engages all of their senses, they
will be eager to pass their findings
along to their larger network.
3. Maximize every touch point.
Increasingly, consumers are using multiple types of connected devices throughout the course of their day — and sometimes simultaneously.
Clearly, web browsing and shopping activities are extending more frequently across desktop and mobile devices. Retailers have yet to catch up with these trends. A 2013 report by the Search Agency states
that 44 of the Fortune 100 companies still do not have a mobile optimized version of their website. The rest are relying on their standard websites to deliver an “adequate enough” tablet shopping experience.
Adequate enough for whom, however? Shoppers need to be engaged and delighted wherever they are shopping: in a store, online, or through a catalog. The online experience breaks down even further, across platforms (website, social media) and device type (desktop, tablet, smartphone).
To capture the full commerce opportunity — and rise above an increasingly crowded pack of competitors — companies will need to optimize their product catalogs, storefronts and back-end transactional systems for multiple media.
4. Measure the impact of relationships, not fans.
Yesterday’s Facebook metrics were about engagement.
Today’s are about conversion. Tomorrow’s metrics are about relationships (with the brand and with other people).
How will businesses capture this “relationship” metric? Sales is the ultimate measure for social commerce, but there are many elements of consumer behavior that will help you determine the most effective tactics and channels for driving conversations and conversions. Heat map analytics, for example, can help you understand how shoppers respond to all elements of a digital publication — and make adjustments on the fly, across different platforms.
When measuring the impact of social media campaigns, it’s helpful to segment your relationship metrics across four categories: Awareness, Engagement, Acquisition, and Commerce.
In order to ignite social commerce by engaging users in a seamless experience on every touch point, enter our world of products and solutions today.
(Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Facebook Like )
Even though school just ended for a lot of kids, the next school year is already top of mind for marketers and retailers across the country. Additionally, discounts and promotions for back to school continue to roll out earlier, according to Advertising Age, because marketers are trying to reach the consumers who are spreading out their purchases over the summer due to a tighter budget. Dads and Grads season is over and, like it or not, Back-to-School season is upon us!
Though classes typically don’t resume until late August or early September (and may vary depending on the country), now is the time when digital assets are being developed — as marketers are in scramble-mode to publish compelling content and merchandising displays across all channels and ultimately get the highest possible share of BTS wallets.
The National Retail Federation’s 2012 Top 10 Back To School Trends highlights the trends and statistics surrounding online shopping behavior and the tremendous opportunity for retailers during this time: The National Retail Federation’s 2012 Top 10 Back To School Trends Infographic
At Zmags, we hold true to the belief that ‘Search is not Shopping’. This is especially true for Back to School, where what kids want and what parents think they need to purchase will likely change over the course of the summer and buying process. It’s therefore important to provide a dynamic shopping experience and keep website content and inventory fresh to maintain the attention, and capture maximum SOW, of these shoppers.
Retailers that make it easy to buy a variety of items at one place/website and provide value-add ideas (for instance, ways to save money while stocking up, how to extend the life of your child’s wardrobe, etc.) are likely to come out ahead of competitors.
Another key driver of the digital shopping experience and likelihood to purchase is convenience, especially during BTS season. A variety of preparations are being made for the upcoming school year, all while families are trying to enjoy summer vacations. Tablet commerce becomes a desirable option for parents that don’t have entire afternoons to go out to the mall. Some brands, such as Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, and Elmer’s Glue, have recognized this convenience driver and developed mobile strategies around it, including SMS-delivered coupons and Back-to-School displays for shopping on the mobile site home page. Back-to-School shopping, bolstered by mobile, was on an uptick: between 2003 and 2012, online spending for BTS quadrupled , and these shoppers spent 27% more than average ($874).
We have yet to see how the 2013 season will unfold, yet retailers that sell school supplies, kids’ clothes, and accessories are wise to deploy digital catalogs and other online collateral early. One in the Southern Hemisphere that has gotten a head start and has enjoyed success already is the Good Guys NZ.
Retailers selling products for school are not the only marketing professionals that will leverage online content during this time of year. College course catalogs, school calendars, event flyers, and more can be published and circulated online with interactive features and sharing capabilities.
When these collateral pieces are in digital format, it ensures that they can be viewed by a wide audience and across all devices. Schools can position themselves as new-school and tech-savvy by putting a great interactive piece of content in front of their recruits and prospects. Additionally, they will never get lost in the mail or in the shuffle of papers on the kitchen counter!
Be sure to follow the Zmags blog throughout the summer as Back-to-School season comes to life.
Recently, we blogged about engagement for the online shopper, saying that engagement is necessary before, during, and after the purchase is made. Digital catalogs provide a platform that merges content and commerce seamlessly to provide that sort of engagement at every turn for the shopper, and yet all content is not the same. There’s a right and wrong type of content for the purchase stage, so as to not interfere with the process.
The ‘Right’ Type
The right type of content for the shopping/purchase stage is content that will support or add value to the products themselves. Product specifications or features might talk about the product, but engaging content will exemplify the inherent value to the customer. The right type of content includes:
- Product Reviews: 82% of testers in a Zmags study said reviews impact the purchase decision or are needed for purchase.
- How-To video featuring the product
- Dynamic Product Windows: Digital catalogs employing DPWs allow the user to click right from catalog pages to find additional product information, alternative images and reviews, as well as an ‘add to cart’ button.
- Related Products – Keeping with the idea of supplementing, related products should not be an option to replace the featured product, but should fit in with it as an add-on. Digital catalogs accomplish this naturally with themed layouts that are equipped with ‘add to cart’ buttons. The user can visualize how products fit together and what the benefit is in buying multiple.
The ‘Wrong’ Type
The wrong type of content for this stage will accomplish the opposite of supplementing the product benefits. In fact, it will further confuse the customer. The consideration phase of the purchase process is good, but driving the customer to re-consideration is a huge “no no”. Wrong type of content includes:
- Related Similar Products – Featuring related products is important, but the right products have to be featured. If the related products elicit more consideration, than the purchase process is only being stalled.
- Example: if the product is a blue shirt, it would be better to feature matching shorts and socks, versus a red shirt and a green shirt. The former encourages additional purchases; while the other might give the customer pause on his/her choice.
- “Brand Benefit” Content – The focus should be narrow at this point, highlighting value of a particular product or group of products. While content that focuses on the brand or the industry is great, this is neither the time nor the place for it, as it will only serve to distract.
- Feeds, Plug-Ins, or Applications that might be engaging but will distract from the purchase process.
The Common thread is that the purchase stage must support the user with content and related products, but should not distract or overwhelm with too much of either, or content that is off-target.
Zmags Co-Founder Speaks on Growth of Tablet Commerce & ‘Couch Commerce’, a Shopping Behavior Facilitated by the Zmags Platform
Zmags’ Jens Karstoft on Tablet Commerce
Couch commerce –which is not synonymous with “purchasing a couch” – has emerged as a prevalent shopping behavior in the ecommerce world. Shopping from home and online shopping are certainly not new concepts, but the emergence of the tablet has opened up new ways in which customers interact with retailers and purchase online.
“Couch commerce” can be defined as any online transactions that happen on tablets from the comfort of one’s own home, often in the living room or bedroom.
Tablet = Dominant Device used by Couch Shoppers
Mobile apps and mobile versions of websites have their place in the digital shopping spectrum, but couch commerce is first and foremost a tablet trend. Due to size of screen, load time, and other factors, users on tablets are on average seeking a longer and more comprehensive visit than mobile users. This is a true browsing and shopping visit: conducting research, viewing images, and making purchases.
Mobile is sufficient for the online shopper who knows exactly what he/she wants and where to get it, but for the couch shoppers that want to dive into the browsing experience, read, view, and make multiple purchases, tablet is their device of choice.
The return on couch commerce tablet sales is well-documented: Users on tablets are spending 54% more on their purchases than their mobile counterparts and 19% more than those on desktops.
While tablet shopping has been established for a few years, statistics – as mentioned above – point to the fact that “couch commerce” it is still in the early stages, and continues to evolve as the landscape of digital hardware and software shifts.
Zmags remains at the forefront of this paradigm. CTO and Co-Founder Jens Karstoft spoke last week on the subject, at an event titled “Tablet Commerce: Fad or Future?” , hosted by Mobile Monday Boston. The event agenda covered tablet strategies and success stories, and was born from the fundamental idea that “The retail sector is moving forward quickly to build experiences for consumers who shop in a lean-back, interactive tablet experience.” Karstoft spoke about industry trends as well as Zmags-specific customer data to support the idea that tablets are used more on weekends, tablets elicit longer visits, and that tablet shoppers have higher order values.
Crafting the Experience
Mobile is all about on-the-go convenience. Tablet is about convenience, but is hardly about on-the-go. The tablet shopper has slowed down and wants to relax. The digital catalog is perfectly suited for these devices, and offers an immersive experience that syncs content and commerce. The user can flip through pages, view content, watch videos, and with one touch get more information on products or add products to cart. This seamless experience is befitting to the couch commerce mentality: convenience, all in one place (no need to get up!).
These consumers don’t want to step outside and head to the store, so why would those same shoppers put up with needing to leave one page to purchase on another? Or want to deal with small images that make it hard to see the product up close, like you would in a store?
Karstoft also talked about several Zmags clients who are keeping these questions in mind while creating new digital assets and designing their digital catalogs. Marketing teams are now letting images speak for themselves, relying on quickviews (pop-up windows) to provide the pricing, materials and sizing details. However, with consumers demanding this immersive and visual visit, they already feel like they’re playing catch up.
How is your brand crafting a great tablet user experience?
Building a brand that is unique, consistent and powerful across all channels and at every point of engagement is imperative to your customer experience as well as your company strategy.
Delivering that brand representation online often requires a suite of web assets that provide the same look and feel online as if you are in store or interacting directly with the brand offline.
At Zmags, we recognize how powerful these web assets are. The release of our Commerce solution opens up the possibilities of bringing those directly to your online publication.
An online magazine, catalog, lookbook or other publication is an engaging linear way to drive consumers though an interactive shopping experience that can leverage your rich media assets and commerce suite. If a consumer knows what they want, they will ultimately use Google to find the product and buy it. That’s not shopping, it’s buying. Your shoppers want to feel like they are interacting directly with your brand as they seek for ideas and inspiration. That branded experience that your consumers know, love and believe in is what then encourages purchase.
The Zmags Commerce Advantage
Your website will already have the vehicles to drive those conversions that occur when a customer knows what they want. An online Publication or Catalog is the vehicle to drive your “shoppers” through an experience to inspire purchase and it’s at this point you want to bring your commerce infrastructure to the forefront for transaction. A branded journey, from click to conversion.
Hello Zmags Commerce. Using either Zmags Plugins or new ecommerce platform integrations, Zmags enables existing ecommerce functionality to be layered onto your online catalog – ensuring shopping carts can be filled and customers can continue to shop. Shopping behavior translates from in-store to the online catalog: a shopper will walk around the store selection items, making sure he/she has seen everything to make the best available purchase decisions.
Zmags is a self-service platform that is designed integrate seamlessly with your existing infrastructure. Zmags Commerce layers can be married with other powerful rich media assets to drive a fluid shopping experience that delivers true ROI.
In essence, your Zmags-driven online content is “talking” happily to your web infrastructure, so when a customer clicks on a product in your Publication it calls up the product information from your website. This seamless integration utilizes the quick view and product information you have already designed to be in-line with your brand. You can add clear call to actions, product videos and other rich media to entice and encourage clicks and embed the Zmags content directly into your site. Being a self-service tool, it’s quick and easy to build commerce-enabled online catalogs and requires no development, coding or anything “tech-y”. As our product evolves, additional features become available and as your product views or information changes it is automatically represented across all online content (past, present or future).
I can write with confidence that Zmags have both the product and the service team available to ensure success with the new Zmags Commerce solution.
At last week’s MITX Great Mobile Migration Summit, I spoke to an audience along with Joan Connor from PartyLite, a home fragrance direct selling company, on “Why Tablets Will Outpace Smartphones: Trends And Tips To Optimize Every Customer Interaction“.
Our main objective? To provide marketers and agencies with some creative ideas on how to capitalize on the distinctions between tablets and smartphone users – with the goal of helping them improve the digital experience for their customers.
Tablets are used more during leisure time (at night and during the weekends), while smartphone users tend to be on-the-go, looking for quick-hit website searches, directions, etc. So, consumers are in a more relaxed mindset on tablets, often lingering on websites longer and viewing more content and pages – with up to 1.7x more pages viewed on tablets than on smartphones. This multi-screen behavior of “couch commerce” while watching TV can lead to impulse buying and larger average order values among the tablet segment of shoppers.
Here are the Top 5 Tips we covered in detail
2. Shoppable online catalogs
3. Sales enablement
4. Device recognition
5. Tablet apps
PartyLite has been a Zmags client for several years, but has been printing catalogs for nearly 4 decades! At first, PartyLite’s Zmags were just digital replicas of its print catalogs. Several pages, such as candle ordering grids, did not translate well on screen – forcing shoppers to spend extra time just zooming in on all of the details. At Zmags, we noticed this in the data, and recommended designing for digital, using interactive elements and a streamlined layout to create a better user experience, especially on tablets.
Joan’s team at PartyLite took this advice, and have since had incredible success with new optimized digital catalogs that focus on key collections they want to promote in their assortment, instead of long, comprehensive books. The response has been extremely positive among Consultants (direct sellers) and their customers. The PartyLite creative team, seeing the clear benefits, now photographs and designs for digital FIRST and print SECOND!
Take a look at PartyLite’s latest Zmags catalog, a great example of the rich photography and crisp layout that works well to inspire purchases on tablets.
For a complimentary copy of the presentation, please contact us!
Online merchandising is a less-talked about part of ecommerce that, in theory, should achieve a similar goal as its in-store conterpart: to “display products in such a way that stimulates interest and entices customers to make a purchase”.
However, the layouts of most traditional ecommerce websites look more like image libraries (organized by item type, size, gender, etc.), rather than well-thought out displays or showcases! Despite good intentions, even website features such as “You may also like”, “Recommended for you” and “Related products” just don’t have the same effect as in-store merchandising — where products often pack more punch in combinations than each would individually.
Why are websites so far behind?
And how can online catalogs help? By enabling the creation of orchestrated e-commerce experiences.
In other words, if done well, online merchandising within digital catalogs blends tactics from both traditional offline and online sales channels — bridging the gap between stark websites and creative brick&mortar window displays. While print catalogs allow for the same kind of curation, they don’t give you back the same kind of data to learn from! Digital versions can be rearranged and segmented based on analyses of user behavior within the catalog, such as which pages are attracting the most attention, which products are clicked on most, etc.
Some ways to make the most of your digital storefront:
-Start with traditional merchandising tactics: Product groups or displays used in stores can provide the basis for website layouts, before in-catalog web analytics comes into play.
-Experiment with creative combinations: Look at recent sales data. Which types of items are people often buying together? How can you encourage them to purchase additional items? One great example, below, from The Container Store, places shoe storage containers alongside mothballs and air fresheners.
-See what’s attracting attention: Heat maps (or in-page analytics) show what your site visitors are clicking on most; shopping cart funnel data reveals which items are carted but for some reason not checked out.
-Look at other key performance metrics for your digital content: Analyzing what works and what doesn’t work over time (test, adjust, retest!) can paint a clearer picture of how to combine your online content and merchandise for optimal performance.
-Vary merchandise combinations by segment, such as website entry point: Where a visitor came from can help predict what they’re looking for. Product images or combinations shown could be served up differently for users who come from social networks vs. search engines vs. particular referral links (etc.).
The results will be better sales, higher conversion rates, and better engagement metrics for your catalog. (Recently, a kids’ toys and apparel brand saw an increase of over 300% more dollar spent, and 250% more items carted, when they featured related items on the same online catalog pages!)
The fourth topic in my series of Top 5 Metrics when evaluating digital catalog and content performance is the Shopping Cart Funnel — which is really a related group of metrics rather just one (sorry, I cheated a bit!).
For brands using online catalogs with a goal of driving incremental revenue, understanding the shopping cart funnel is critical when assessing the ROI of these marketing and ecommerce efforts. Where to begin?
Look at all metrics in the online catalog shopping cart funnel:
- Catalog cart creation rate = percent of total visits (desktop and mobile) that created a cart divided by total catalog visits. This means a shopper added at least one item to their cart from the online catalog.
- Catalog check-out rate = percent of total visits that checked out a cart directly from the digital catalog (i.e., clicked on the button to go to checkout).
For the segment of visits that went through to checkout, you can also see:
- average cart value
- number of items per cart
- total cart value
- total number of carts
It’s important to keep in mind, though, that these metrics all represent shoppers’ behavior within the
catalog – so are really measures of its revenue potential. From there, your 3rd party web analytics tool (e.g. Google Analytics, Omniture, Coremetrics) can help round out the story (which I’ll dive deeper into next week in my post about KPI #5!).
The example above highlights most of the data that’s available on in-catalog conversions. For instance, here you can see that 1 out of every 10 visits to this home goods retailer’s online catalog added at least one item to their shopping cart while in the catalog (averaging 2.5 items per visit); over 6% of total visits went to checkout.
How can you use this information?
1. Assess whether your Zmags online catalogs are driving incremental revenue based on shopping cart conversion rate and total value of orders through the catalog. How does the conversion rate compare to your standard ecommerce site?
2. Look for any blockages in the funnel. Are certain products getting a lot of exposure but not converting? Why?
Remember, you can learn more about metrics #1, total visits, #2, time spent per visit, and #3, read-through rate in my earlier posts as well.
In 1867, Harper’s BAZAAR became America’s first fashion magazine. The magazine has now achieved another first with the launch of ShopBAZAAR, a breakthrough online store that allows the viewer to complete the purchase without leaving the magazine, closing the gap between seeing and buying. The readers, inspired by the items on display, can purchase in a fully integrated and seamless experience.
Unlike conventional ecommerce stores where business managers decide what to sell, the editors of ShopBAZAAR handpick items for sale. This brings to life an authentic content-to-commerce preposition, allowing viewers to experience special one-of-a kind products inspired by editorial features and enjoy contextual shopping experience to the fullest. ShopBAZAAR showcases about 1000-1500 products at any given time, with global brands like Saks Fifth Avenue, Salvatore Ferragamo, Derek Lam, Hirshleifers, Les Nouvelles, and Donna Karan Cosmetics.
In March this year, Harper’s BAZAAR embarked on a brand transformation exercise that started with a redesign and culminated in ShopBAZAAR. The BAZAAR Book app provides the monthly mag-alogue and the contextual shopping experience to iPad users. ShopBazaar.com also appears as a sub-domain of www.harpersbazaar.com, accessible as a “Shopping” tab on the home page. A tab on the Harper’s BAZAAR Facebook page takes the users directly to the BAZAAR Book on harpersbazaar.com. The innovations are poised to continue, with Digimarc watermarks that allow readers to shop the pages using smart phones. Expect that in early 2013.
ShopBAZAAR was launched in collaboration with American Express. American Express card holders receive exclusive perks and benefits, including access to specially-produced pieces from key designers, special gifts and private shopping events.
Check out the full online shopping experience to get an idea of how BAZAAR has truly used digital publishing to their advantage.