Digital content and ecommerce have been merging for years. Even in the early days of search engines, social media and blogging, our favorite products and retailers were only a few clicks away. But there’s always been a gap between experiencing content and shopping for products. When consumers encountered products they wanted while viewing digital content, they had to leave that content behind to begin the shopping process, often starting with an empty search bar and running into dead ends along the way.
Shoppable content addresses that gap, integrating a seamless shopping experience within the content itself. Instead of merely inspiring action like traditional content, shoppable content facilitates it. The moment consumers encounter something they want, shoppable content gives them the information and capabilities to select a product, configuration and retailer.
Today, shoppable content is innovative, and for many ecommerce brands, it may even feel experimental. But in the near future, it’ll be table stakes. This is the direction our digital relationship with products – consumer packaged goods in particular – is heading. As brands strive to optimize, control and understand the customer journey better than their competition, meaningful innovations quickly become a requirement for survival.
PriceSpider works with leading CPG brands that have been early adopters of shoppable content and build the underlying technology that facilitates it. In this article, we’re sharing what we’ve learned about this cutting edge content so far, and where we expect it to go. We’ll cover:
- How brands are using shoppable content now
- Examples of shoppable content
- What changes we expect to see in the future
But first, let’s talk about why shoppable content represents such a departure from traditional shopping experiences and the evolution of CPG ecommerce.
The rise of shoppable content
In the early days of the internet, there was a clear delineation between ads and the content people intended to consume. Ads flashed in the margins of our interactions with search engines, websites and eventually social media. Audiences approached the internet much the same as they approached the magazines and newspapers that came before, expecting the experience of reading or watching what they wanted to be distinct from the experience of browsing ads.
But when someone read or watched something that piqued their interest in a product category or brand, this separation made the journey to buying it difficult. Maybe a helpful forum post or obscure tutorial pointed them to a product they needed to solve a problem at home (like a leaking dishwasher). Or a recipe called for a particular brand or variety of spice. Perhaps a shopping channel introduced them to a new must-have cleaning product. Decades ago, people would’ve added those items to their shopping list, perhaps creating sublists for each store they needed to stop at during their errands. But as retailers and brands established their websites as viable shopping channels, the experience changed.
Content creators could link directly to product pages. And even when they didn’t, consumers gradually began to expect that they could find the right product somewhere online. Though sometimes, that “somewhere” was extremely difficult to find. And when creators linked directly to product pages, the product wasn’t always in stock, the link could break, or the price or configurations available could change. Consumers increasingly found themselves following links to retail sites they didn’t want to buy from, for any number of reasons, including account creation, shipping costs, lack of familiarity, return policies, loyalty programs or other preferences. Whatever the case, the shopper had to start over, beginning with a search engine or browsing an individual site.
As brands and creators sought attribution (and/or compensation) for driving sales, this transition between content and the shopping experience became increasingly problematic. URL tags and affiliate links can only track attribution if the purchase occurred at the specific URL, and the details of the purchase often aren’t included—so there was no way to tell if someone bought what a brand directed them to or bought a competing product or something else entirely.
In many cases, this is the status quo for CPG brands. If brands aren’t using shoppable content, there’s still a jarring transition between their content and the shopping experience, and they have limited (or no) visibility into what people purchase once they click through.
Shoppable content brings the shopping experience right to a brand’s videos, posts and other content, merging these traditionally disparate processes. Instead of assuming which path to purchase will be most effective for the largest slice of the brand’s audience, they empower their audience to choose their own path without forcing them to find another offramp first (like heading to Google, Amazon, Target or Walmart).
While there are many different forms of shoppable content, and it varies somewhat from one channel to another, shoppable content is fundamentally different from content of the past because the shopping experience surfaces within the content itself. Perhaps more accurately, the content serves as a launchpad for the shopping experience by enabling consumers to find their path to purchase, rather than serving as a stumbling block by forcing everyone to a single point of purchase. All the while, brands retain greater control over the shopping experience, because they’re providing what consumers need to make an informed decision upfront—and getting more visibility into purchases so they can optimize the buyer journey.
Considering how the world’s leading CPG brands are using shoppable content today, it’s clear to see why it’s the future of ecommerce.
How brands use shoppable content
To understand the way brands use shoppable content today, it helps to understand how the underlying process works.
To be successful, shoppable content has to be both highly complex on the back end and incredibly simple on the front end. It has to pull information from multiple retailers and clearly display each one’s stock availability, pricing, ratings and other information consumers rely on. Display outdated information, and the content creates obstacles to the shopping experience, rather than streamlining it. (For example, leading customers to a retailer that doesn’t have a product in stock could both ruin their immediate shopping experience and dissuade them from purchasing a brand’s products in the future.)
Despite the complexity of shoppable content, it should appear to the consumer as a single straightforward menu. One click to start shopping, and then intuitive paths to purchase.
Every content platform has significant constraints for creators, and they won’t go scraping retail sites to get the specific data brands want to display in their content. So brands make their content shoppable by diverting their audience to a place where they have greater control over what they display—usually a landing page. Ideally, this page looks and feels like the content people are coming from to create the most consistent experience possible.
This click-to-landing-page process enables brands to implement shoppable content across a wide range of channels, like email, blogs, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok or Snapchat without complex integrations. With the resurgence of QR codes, even print content can become shoppable. The landing page does all the heavy lifting and dynamically displays shopping information, while the content simply serves as a vehicle for getting people to the landing page.
Now let’s look at some examples of effective shoppable content.
Examples of shoppable content
On the surface, shoppable content is indistinguishable from traditional content. The content isn’t what sets it apart—it’s the shoppability that it enables. But while leading brands have begun implementing shoppable content, it may not be noticeable in the wild unless one clicks through all their ads, emails and posts.
As the premier tech solution for enabling shoppable content, we notice shoppable content everywhere. One of our product marketing experts, Skirmante Bikaite, pulled together several of her favorite examples and provided insight into what makes them each effective.
Nestle’s shoppable TikTok content
TikTok is an excellent platform for product discovery. TikTok influencers are constantly introducing their followers to new brands and product categories. But it wasn’t built as a shopping platform, and there can be a lot of friction to begin the shopping experience as a result.
In this example, Nestle advertised one product with several variations. The shoppable landing page supports configurable products, so the brand can save advertising budget by promoting entire product variations with a single campaign.
Special offers are also perfect for a shoppable campaign. Instead of driving to a crowded product detail page (PDP), brands can use shoppable solutions to drive conversion for product-focused campaigns.
Paper Mate’s shoppable Pinterest content
Pinterest is where people go for inspiration as they plan projects, find decor, look for new recipes and more. It’s a natural place for discovering and exploring a range of CPG products, and making Pinterest content shoppable enhances users’ ability to copy ideas and bring their visions to life.
When creating shoppable landing pages, brands can choose to include things like stock and price. In this example, it’s immediately clear to the user which retailers have the product in stock, how many units are available and which retailer has the best price. The audience doesn’t have to leave the page to research availability or pricing, enabling them to make an informed purchase quickly and easily.
Purina’s shoppable print content
Print has been a notoriously difficult channel for ecommerce campaigns. If brands aim for anything beyond awareness, there’s far more friction because their audience isn’t experiencing the content via a device.
Adding a QR code that leads to a shoppable landing page enables print campaigns to take people beyond the awareness stage of the customer journey to consideration and even decision. Now, the users see the ad and can directly buy the product instead of searching on Google and possibly drifting away from the purchase or finding a different offer. Even in print, brands can convert their audience the moment they’re engaged.
With the right shoppable solution, brands can even customize their shoppable landing pages to match the print content people came from, strengthening the seamless experience.
The future of shoppable content
Not long ago, shoppable content was a novelty. Interesting, different and nice to have, but not essential. But brands are quickly learning that if their content isn’t shoppable, that’s a miss. Not everyone who sees a brand’s ads, emails, posts and other content is ready to shop. But for those who are, lack of shopability is a roadblock to buying the products, and they won’t always have the motivation or determination to take a detour. Any time brands tell people about a product, they should be giving their customers a clear pathway to buy the configuration they want—from the retailer they want.
More widespread usage
In the near future, we expect to see the normalization and proliferation of shoppable content. Right now, it’s still catching on—many brands are aware of it but don’t have the tech to enable it. As brands invest in shopability and the underlying tech evolves, we’ll see more instances of it, greater adoption (by brands and consumers) and more touchpoints and channels where it’s available. In time, it may become so ubiquitous that it’s simply part of the experience we expect to have when we encounter products online.
Augmented reality & virtual reality
In time, shoppable content will further expand into AR/VR. While augmented reality isn’t relevant to every product category, it’s also proving to be especially helpful in categories where consumers care about how something looks on their body or in their environment, like health and beauty products, apparel or decor.
When brands implement AR/VR in apps they control or immersive experiences like smart mirrors, these may become valuable opportunities for shoppable links. For example, customers could “try on” products at an AR-enabled mirror at an event and then order them from their preferred retailer right at the booth. AR filters can allow users to digitally “sample” various beauty products, see how furniture or artwork fits in their actual room, find the right shoe size, compare designs and more all from their phone—and when that experience is shoppable, they can easily buy what they were just looking at from the option that’s best for them.
More data points and deeper insights
In the long term, brands can also expect a greater number of data points to be captured on the backend, changing what they can display and what they can learn from how their audiences interact with shoppable content. Currently, the insights brands can gain vary widely depending on the technology they deploy. (Most vendors don’t have decades of proprietary crawling technology and direct retail partnerships to build on like PriceSpider does.) Going forward, it will be crucial for brands to have an overview of the entire customer journey—from impression to sale—and the ability to make data-based decisions. This will lead to greater sales and stronger performance for brands.
Going hand-in-hand with the increase in usage of shoppable content is the convenience of creating it. Just as setting up ad campaigns and configuring content has grown simpler as more brands have used it, creating shoppable content campaigns will become a more intuitive self-serve process.
Embrace the shoppable future with PriceSpider
Leading brands have been turning to PriceSpider to enable shoppable content for years. Our best-in-class store locator software, Where to Buy, empowers brands to create shoppable content via Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, Snapchat, email, print and more. Brands can configure their shoppable landing pages to display detailed shopping information or simply list the retailers they want, and Where to Buy’s universal tracking ensures brands can see whatever their audience buys, wherever they buy.
Want to learn more about how PriceSpider makes content shoppable?
Schedule a demo of Where to Buy today.