Digital technologies are driving massive changes throughout the business world, but no sector has been impacted more than the retail industry. According to data from the U.S. Commerce Department, ecommerce sales in the U.S. reached $394.86 billion in 2016, and eMarketer recently estimated that global online purchases will grow to $4.058 trillion in 2020. So obviously, retailers are at the forefront of the digital revolution.
Marketing leaders in retail enterprises overwhelmingly recognize the importance of providing engaging digital experiences to their existing and potential customers, and they also recognize that rich content is critical for creating engagement. In a 2015 survey by Zmags, nearly half (49%) of the surveyed retailers said using rich media content that will capture people’s attention was the most critical factor for creating engaging digital experiences.
Now, however, some leading retailers are beginning to take rich content to a higher level by making it interactive, or “shoppable.” In basic terms, shoppable content is any type of content that provides a direct purchasing opportunity. Shoppable content allows consumers to add products to their shopping cart directly from what they are viewing (“click to buy”), or it may take the consumer to the relevant product page where he or she can make a purchase. The objective of shoppable content is to satisfy immediate purchase desires and make buying as easy and quick as possible.
Recent research by Zmags indicates that interactive rich content is becoming an important priority for retail marketers. When participants in this survey were asked to identify their most important content focus for 2016, 46.7% of respondents said making existing content more interactive & shoppable. The Zmags research also revealed, however, that the use of shoppable content is just beginning – only 9% of the survey respondents said they were currently using shoppable content.
When participants in the Zmags survey were asked about the challenges of using shoppable content, respondents cited a lack of funds and personnel, and the technical difficulties involved in creating rich interactive content.
Some of the challenges associated with shoppable content probably result from how marketing and ecommerce operations are structured in many enterprises. In a 2014 survey of web content and ecommerce professionals by Forrester Consulting, 59% of respondents said their marketing team is separate from their ecommerce team. This research also revealed that marketing teams and ecommerce teams typically use different processes and technologies. Only 32% of survey respondents said their marketing and ecommerce teams completely share technology platforms.
To use shoppable content at scale, retail enterprises will need to foster greater collaboration between marketing and ecommerce teams, and the use of common technology platforms is a step toward this goal.