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Content + commerce = retail winner: study

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The ability to bring content and commerce together “may be what separates retail winners from losers”, according to a new report.

More than three quarters (78%) of consumers now browse online before buying in-store, finds an L2 Intelligence Report on Content and Commerce, produced in partnership with Demandware . It dubs the practice ‘webrooming’.

The report sees an opportunity for brands to win the sale before shoppers go instore. “Branded content,” it says, “delivered in tandem with product information, provides the texture for a consumer to mentally commit to a purchase.” But, it warns, brands must work in an environment where the landscape is saturated with content.

Branded commerce is exploding, says the report, which cites figures showing that 56% of marketers in Western Europe plan to increase or significantly increase B2C marketing spend. But currently, it says, 25% of brand blogs in Western Europe and the US do not link to commerce in any way.

Pain points for brands, it says, include competition between brands’ ecommerce and marketing teams for ownership of commerce. In half of organisations, says the report, the ecommerce team owns content creation with a view to boosting conversion, while in the other half, marketing or editorial teams are in charge. “These competing objectives, while not mutually exclusive, create visible rifts across site experiences and impact the type and quality of content being created,” says the report.

Meanwhile, many organisations do not embed content close to transactional pages. Some are also inconsistent in the way that they integrate commerce. Finally, brands also put their US experience ahead of experiences in Europe and Asia.

Speaking at Demandware’s customer event, Xchange ’14, earlier this month, L2 founder Scott Galloway, who is also professor of marketing at NYU Stern said: “Every dollar invested needs to move buyers online down the funnel.”

The study points to tactics used by successful brands, which include integrating blogs onto the main site experience, putting links to product pages into article, and promoting blog content on the homepage.

Video and tutorials are promoted on the home page and embedded into transactional pages, while user-generated content is promoted on relevant product pages. Finally, guided selling tools are created for products in both technical and non-technical categories.

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