Content and commerce were once quite distinct things, but the lines between them are blurring more than ever, playing a part in a more modern customer experience.
With a rapid rise in content consumption, retailers are starting to realize not only the power of good quality content and storytelling, but also the value it can add and the role it can play when woven throughout the shopper journey.
These days businesses cannot afford to direct customers away from content pages to purchase elsewhere. Their new strategy must be to bring the content or the purchase to where the customer already is. It could be in the form of integrated content on product pages or shoppable imagery or videos on content pages — there’s an array of ways it can be achieved.
So where do the obstacles lie, and what is needed for success?
Execute the Appropriate Balance of Content and Delivery
Social media and the rise in social commerce is a prime example of content and commerce combining. Not only can retailers and brands now create shoppable content on specific social media platforms, but social media gave rise to the increase in shoppers entering e-commerce websites at different stages in the sales funnel.
For example, shoppers are now bypassing the homepage as the traditional first brand interaction, instead coming in at product listing and detail pages, meaning there’s an increased need for businesses to be able to integrate the content shoppers want much deeper into the buyer journey.
It’s critical to execute the right balance between content and delivering it at the right times in the buying journey. But this can be challenging when businesses are constrained by legacy technology, as they lack the flexibility and agility needed to achieve this.
Map to Customer Expectations
COVID-19 rapidly accelerated what we were already starting to see in the industry in terms of a rise in online shopping and digital interactions — and this digital commerce is here to stay. Customer expectations are high around speed, personalization and user experience design. And they are unforgiving in their desire for seamless stories and brand experiences across all touchpoints.
Keeping pace and innovating when it comes to customer expectations can be hard. Having large user experience backlogs, being constrained by predefined templates and processes, and having content workflows bottlenecked with developers will not enable retailers and brands to meet customer needs throughout their journeys.
Behind the scenes in the e-commerce business there has been a long-standing separation between teams. Given this, commerce and content have been treated separately, with the two respective teams generally working in silos. Also, as a result of older technology, many marketing teams were at running into roadblocks with IT teams, constrained in what they could achieve when all changes were getting held up with developers.
Collaboration across teams is now the key to growth. Teams need to work in parallel and everyone empowered to deliver upon the shared purpose in order to be successful.
The key to success going forward will be how businesses continue to adapt to customer expectations, continue to adapt to the ever-changing landscape and importantly, how they engage with customers through unified stories across all channels. To operate most impactfully in this evolving digital shopping world, retailers and brands must deliver the customized digital experiences they desire and that their customers require.
To effectively achieve this, they need best-of-breed SaaS solutions where they can compose the commerce architecture they want — one that supports collaboration across teams, empowers flexibility and drives cohesive, compelling experiences across all customer touchpoints.
A MACH-based (microservices, API-first, cloud-native SaaS and headless) approach is where many businesses are heading. With the ability to gain the speed, flexibility, and adaptability businesses need, MACH is providing the freedom that isn’t afforded from the one-size-fits-all legacy platforms.
By leveraging MACH architecture, businesses can become more agile and proactive in their digital strategies which is critical for success now — and in the future.
James Brooke is founder and CEO of Amplience.