eCommerceNews UK - Technology news for digital commerce decision-makers
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The progressive evolution of the eCommerce experience
Tue, 7th Mar 2023

In its infancy, eCommerce was an adventure for the bravest of shoppers - only the most daring would enter their treasured card details into a website. Amazon then set off a cascade of digitalisation in commerce, making users comfortable purchasing on the internet through a streamlined customer experience and social proof using customer reviews. Over time, This formula proved to be the perfect blend of innovation and trustworthiness - today, eCommerce sales total almost $1 trillion annually in the U.S. alone.

However, the standard eCommerce experience still leaves much to be desired. For a restock of pens or a fresh roll of tape, an online order is quick and convenient. But when you are shopping for an item with significance and meaning, it's unlikely that the standard eCommerce listing will suffice. Being inspired by an item is a personal process involving an experience of the item from different perspectives and uncovering the item's origin story. Herein lies the key difference between buying and shopping - shopping is not solely the purchase of a good but involves an attachment to the product, a secret weapon for the informed retailer armed with shoppable video.

A fresh way for brands to engage with customers (and increase conversion)

Top marketers are well-versed in using video to connect with consumers and routinely invoke an emotional response to most products. However, there has been a widespread struggle to turn the story into a sale. It's also hard to attribute a purchase to a commercial seen on TV (or even online, now that privacy laws are expanding their remit).

Shoppable video makes attribution definite and flattens the sales funnel. If you haven't come across a shoppable video yet, it is simply a pre-recorded or live video online where viewers tune in to discover interesting products. Customers watch the show specifically to shop and experience the products. An exceptional example of shoppable video, the Stranger Things Day video shopping event, saw QVC and Netflix partner up for four original streaming events in November 2022. Host Tessa Notting guided viewers through the Stranger Things set and showed off themed merchandise, available to buy directly from the video itself.

"I can't track conversion for my advertising campaigns."

Shoppable video events like these are where eCommerce is heading because of their ability to deliver consistently. It's all too common to see marketing managers frustrated that they can't find the magic keyword or perfect platform for their adverts. Shoppable video solves this conundrum, delivering content that invokes an emotional attachment to the product and directly converts the desire to purchase into a sale. Livestream shopping, in particular, is transforming brand conversion rates — up to 10 times more than with regular eCommerce, according to McKinsey Digital.

Shoppable video is emerging as a crucial tool in the wake of extensive privacy-driven regulation across the digital landscape. Advertising techniques with a lower reliance on cookies that track shoppers across the internet and instead look to optimise the engagement and conversion from their own video content, offer retailers a strategic advantage. Add on the potential for more informed purchases and reduced returns, and shoppable video starts to stand out.

Where is video commerce headed?

The eCommerce industry sprouted from a simple concept; a platform allowing people to purchase products on the internet. This framework has served the industry well for a quarter century, but a new generation of technology has arrived in interactive video, enabling brands to not only facilitate purchases but to inspire an emotional attachment to their products.

Video commerce is the latest generation of eCommerce and falls into two main types. Livestream shopping - a live short-form video from which viewers can directly engage with the host through a live chat and "hearting" a shoppable video, encompassing livestream shopping, pre-recorded videos, and replays of live shopping events. In both cases, shoppers get to view engaging videos about products and purchase the product directly from the video, but only livestreams happen in the moment.

Live video offers brands a unique opportunity to excite their audience, offering viewers a more raw experience of a product from retailers which normally run one-way campaigns. Shoppers are drawn to live streams due to the opportunity to contribute to the experience and receive real-time answers from a friendly face on the other end, enhancing engagement and improving conversion rates.

Brands are often hesitant to go live, fearing the unpredictability of live content production and the possibility of negative reactions from the public. However, these concerns are easily tackled with an experienced partner to help explore this new digital landscape. With the right guidelines and methodology in place, we predict that brands will become comfortable with live videos and make it a core part of their marketing strategy this year and beyond. 

Customer attribution and improved conversion rates aren't the only advantages of shoppable commerce. Brands are able to provide the experience directly from their own platforms, providing full control over data, trust and privacy - creating a powerful package. Coresight Research has estimated that U.S. livestream shopping will see a 4x increase from 2020 levels to be worth $35 billion by 2024. 

A new generation of commerce has arrived, and brands that take the leap are certainly seeing the rewards. For retailers keen to improve their sales funnels and take more control of their advertising in 2023, the time is right.