Once upon a time, the January sales were a key period for retailers. But as consumer buying patterns have shifted inexorably by Black Friday promotions and other factors, they no longer hold the same appeal. With the CBI forecasting that January 2024 retail sales volumes will fall well below seasonal norms, and the Institute for Fiscal Studies predicting a recession in the first half of the year, retailers could be forgiven for having a gloomy outlook this January.
But all is not lost. With the right content strategy, retailers can overcome the January blues and capture consumer spend. This means making every piece of content that they produce work as hard as possible to capture attention, boost engagement and enable conversions. By keeping the principles of content commerce at the forefront of their minds, retailers can maximise their revenues not just during December and January, but across the rest of the year.
What is content commerce?
Content commerce is the merging of content marketing and commerce. By connecting the two, the sales funnel is condensed so retailers can connect with consumers, show them the products they want to see and give them the opportunity to buy all within a single piece of content. The key to content commerce is enabling experiences that capture attention through interactive features, while providing consumers with the ability to make the purchase within that content without having to go to a separate landing page.
Content commerce gives retailers a way to boost sales during the most difficult months. Its effectiveness is enhanced by the fact that consumers can make the purchase directly at the point of inspiration; it’s a seamless shopping experience where there’s no risk of the customer getting distracted and lost somewhere between the content and the checkout.
The 2024 Creative Retail Awards are open for entries.
The Creative Retail Awards are much more than a mere accolade; they represent the pinnacle of achievement in the retail industry. Garnering a nomination or winning one of these awards is a testament to innovation, excellence, and leadership.
Following TikTok’s lead
Making the connection between content and commerce is something that TikTok is spearheading. TikTok, at its core, is an entire community of content producers. Creators feature products within their videos, and the TikTok Shop enables users to buy these products directly within the platform. They can even place items from multiple different sellers in their basket and make their purchases in a couple of taps, without having to ever leave the app.
Central to TikTok’s success with content commerce is the new consumer behaviours it’s driving. The audience aren’t just watching videos, they’re interacting with them. They can swipe through content they’re not interested in; like, comment and share the content they do like; and easily buy products they see through a seamless checkout process. And with a global audience of some 900 million – that’s about 20% of all internet users – these behaviours are quickly becoming the norm.
And while TikTok is setting the standards for content commerce, other big players in retail are also experimenting. Amazon and Snap have developed their own innovative ways of linking content with commerce, the former with Amazon Anywhere – which lets consumers discover and buy physical products within a game or app – and Snap with its range of Augmented Reality-enabled tools for retailers.
Active, not passive experiences
It is the emphasis on active – rather than passive – experiences that is fundamental to the appeal of content commerce. Consumers are bombarded with advertising just about everywhere they go, and have learned to tune out much of the promotional content they see. Even high-attention formats like video aren’t enough for retailers that want to drive consumer engagement; they need to focus on creating interactive experiences that demand audience attentiveness.
The dynamic nature of interactive video opens up many possibilities for retailers. For example, through the creation of branching videos, they can give customers a choice of the products they look at. They can make in-depth information about the products available through a simple click or tap, they can also show real-time stock levels and pricing information to help guide the consumer towards a purchase. And most importantly, interactive video gives retailers the ability to include an in-stream checkout, making it a true content commerce experience.
Tracking performance and boosting customer understanding
What’s more, interactive video gives retailers the chance to collect valuable information about what customers are interested in. The choices that customers make when interacting with a video will reveal their preferences, as well as what kind of information they want to know about a product. This data gives retailers everything they need to be able to personalise future interactions.
Shoppable interactive videos let retailers see the whole of the consumer journey between discovery and purchase, meaning they can assess how effective their campaigns are and tweak content that’s underperforming. This kind of real-time campaign insight represents a step forward for retailers that want to understand the true value of their content strategy.
Takeaway: Dynamic thinking can keep the tills ringing
Within advertising, through social platforms, on their own online properties and even in-store experiences, all retailers should be thinking hard about how they can utilise commerce-enabled interactive video in 2024. Technology that unlocks content commerce is the key to an omnichannel strategy. And whether through the tough Q1 months or the more fruitful times of year, interactive video can grab attention, drive engagement and enable seamless purchases; furthermore, it can offer insights into customer behaviour and provide the building blocks of first-party data banks.
Done right, content commerce capabilities don’t require complicated integrations and with content performing to its full potential, retailers can give themselves the best chance of maximising revenue all year round.