Today, online retailers have several highly functional options for listing and selling products online, accepting payments and managing inventory. But in order to successfully scale their e-commerce business, brands need to start thinking and executing differently—they need to adopt what's known as 'commerce as content' into their marketing approach in order to reach customers at all touchpoints of the buying experience.
E-commerce is an increasingly critical aspect of nearly every organization that has products or services to sell. Retail businesses of all sizes need a platform to market and sell their products, but it goes beyond retail; think of brand products for any organization, whether that's an NPR member station selling mugs or a magazine publisher selling print and online editions of its entire back catalog.
However, many online-store platforms often lack the ability to tell compelling stories about the organization’s products—instead, the potential buyer is left to scan pages that don't elaborate on the brand’s purpose, that don’t showcase exactly why the buyer needs that specific product and, ultimately, that don’t seal the deal.
To succeed and to scale today, e-commerce sellers and brands with any product to sell need to start thinking and executing differently. They need to effectively market to their buyers by engaging them with interesting, thought-provoking stories, and they need to drive loyalty and create greater awareness of their brand’s values. In other words, the worlds of publishers and brand marketers are colliding and for good reason: Without effective storytelling—without meaningful content—brands will struggle to drive sales.
It’s time to treat content as an essential ingredient in the e-commerce equation.
Commerce as content: Your questions, answered
What is commerce as content?
Notably, content is an umbrella term here. When we talk about content, it could mean product descriptions, pictures and user-generated content, or it can mean videos, blogs and FAQs. A successful commerce-as-content strategy understands which content types to use at which time and will publish a variety across different digital channels, all to create an optimal experience for the buyer.
Why is commerce as content gaining in popularity?
Shoppers now expect to be able to find what they need online, and whether the entire process is digital or involves in-store pickups and interactions, technology is needed to meet and serve the customer along every point of that journey, from discovery, research and comparison shopping to purchase, ordering and delivery.
Obviously, online stores don’t provide the opportunity for buyers to engage with their products physically. They can’t feel them, hold them to see how much they weigh, or try them on like they can in a store. So, without descriptive content—without videos that show how a tech gadget can easily swap out components or various images to show how a dress might look on different body types—too much is left to the imagination, and buyers will look elsewhere. This is exactly why e-commerce companies are embracing commerce as content strategies today.
What are the benefits of a commerce-as-content strategy?
- Effective, efficient methods for telling the product story: You can more easily drive product sales with the ability to place products exactly where you want on your digital footprint.
- Improved speed to publish: You can own and publish all product-related assets (videos, images and any other content) right within the content management system (CMS), without having to context-switch between separate systems.
- Enhanced marketing: You can build dynamic content that pulls in products automatically based on characteristics, while also removing the manual lift that takes up too much of the team’s time or results in out-of-sync and outdated content in different systems.
How do I get started on a commerce-as-content strategy?
With Brightspot’s new Shopify integration, for example, an e-commerce business can embed and feature Shopify products into Brightspot pages, promos, articles, blog posts, listicles and more. Basically, any product pulled into the CMS via this integration exists as an asset that can be injected anywhere within the storytelling experience—something functionally impossible to do with Shopify or other e-commerce platforms.
Let’s say an online business that sells bicycles uses Brightspot as its CMS and Shopify as its e-commerce platform, and they want to showcase the best bikes for summer travel on their site. With the Brightspot and Shopify integration, the company can easily sync their product directory with Brightspot content types, so that product information about the best travel biking gear is featured prominently as potential buyers scan the site. Without Brightspot, the company’s content team would have to publish their content and manually add in links to related Shopify pages—and ensure these links stay current and accurate over time.
Now, with an integration between the CMS and Shopify store, all the bike store's gear and products can be searched and accessed via the CMS and then included with content assets and pages wherever relevant. This includes pricing and shipping details, availability, product updates and more—without ever requiring the content team to manage and validate details that will change frequently over time.