While mobile is going to change the fundamental way in which people shop out and about in the real world, mobile – and its attendant services such as social media and media – are going to fundamentally change where people shop online in 2019.
While there is going to be a shift towards visual and voice interaction between mobile and the real world, there are going to be shifts in who sells what and where – again driven by consumer behaviour.
So what is in store for mobile retail platforms in 2019?
The rise of visual search on mobile is closely allied to social media. Across 2018 we have seen the likes of Instagram – a visually driven medium – impact more on retail.
eBay is most keen on visually selling, as it believes that image recognition is the best way for customers to shop the vast inventory that it holds. A similar argument applies at Asos, which has also turned to the visual to help its customers find what they are looking for.
But it is the extension of Pinterest and Instagram into retail that has been most marked in 2018 and which will continue into 2019 – again driven by mobile shoppers.
M&S has become one of the early retail adopters of the channel, which has now been enhanced by being made shoppable.
Where shoppers once turned to search to find what they were looking for, they are now seeing what they want from brands, celebrities and their own friends on social. In the UK, M&S has been selling on Instagram and found it so successful, it’s now planning to roll it out as a sales channel later this year.
To accelerate this trend, Instagram has launched Instagram shopping across Europe to help retailers leverage the social media traffic they have and make it directly shoppable. Instagram shopping was launched in the US last year and has been trialled in the UK.
Erin Roy, head of media and digital marketing at M&S, said about it: “Instagram shopping offers us the opportunity to realise the huge potential of our 760,000 followers. Instagram has always been a great platform through which to showcase our products and engage with customers. Shoppable posts take this to a new level.”
Other retailers are likely to also see the advantages of using visual social media to tap into consumers – getting to them with the content and details they need in a format that is becoming increasing relevant.
Who are the retailers?
While Instagram, eBay and Pinterest are becoming a platforms for curation and channels for retailers to sell visually, there is also going to be a rise in media companies becoming retailers, based purely on their ability to appear as trusted third-parties.
This has already started to happen in several media outlets in 2018, with Mashable, Timemagazine and Marie Claireall experimenting with how to leverage their readership and content to actually sell things.
Working with thousands of brands across the UK at the time of launch, including Farfetch, Selfridges, ASOS, Topshop, NET-A-PORTER and MATCHESFASHION.COM, Marie Claire Edit combines the best of designer and high street fashion with the expertise of Marie Claire’s editorial team creating content and curating the latest trends and inspirational shopping.
Under the strapline ‘Shop the brands you love. Fashion Editor approved’, Marie Claire Edit offers a key endorsement angle for brands, with a Marie Claire Edit approved badge for items carefully selected by Marie Claire’s Fashion Editors. It also offers a new point of purchase, leveraging Marie Claire’s digital reach in fashion, which delivers strong SEO by targeting all long-tail keyword shopping terms.
This builds on the work of Mashable and Time, which make their content shoppable whenever a consumer points their phone at an item online or in a magazine, or clicks on an item in a Mashable or Time Inc story. In doing so, these publishers suddenly become the retail outlet, with the retailer relegated to a supplier.
How does it work? This new, immersive mobile shopping experience capitalises on Mashable’s role as the go-to source for all things new and next. Combining Mashable’s expert recommendations with the consumer discovery power of eBay, the partnership allows Mashable’s audience to use eBay to shop, browse and purchase products matching those featured on Mashable – all without ever leaving the Mashable site.
There is going to be more of this across 2019, as more publishers see a way to create valuable revenue streams. The move is also akin to the rise of marketplaces. Brands are increasingly turning to marketplaces such as Amazon to reach consumers where they are. Publisher sites as quasi-marketplaces delivers a similar reach and is an interesting proposition for brands and for some retailers.
Who embraces this and how remains to be seen, but it is set to be part of the changing retail landscape in 2019 – the year that retail had to change.