How shoppable ads protect and streamline the retail customer journey

By Rae GuimondDirector of Strategy and Business Development at PriceSpider

To call modern shopping habits a “moving target” is an understatement. Today’s consumers are worried about inflation, borrowing costs, and everyday expenses — and it’s changing the way they shop at a pace that’s harder to keep up with than ever before.

In the U.S., consumer confidence levels — which gauge sentiments about personal financial situations, buying attitudes and overall economic condition — fell for a third straight month in October, and are down to 102.6 from the 135 figure reported in 2019. Similar trends can be seen internationally, as U.K. consumer confidence also lags in comparison with 2019 levels.

So how do brands turn browsers into active shoppers in a world where shopping habits are anything but consistent?

For many, the answer is to make the customer journey as streamlined and frictionless as possible, giving consumers an intuitive purchasing experience that boosts sales and drives revenue goals.

Tackling the primary pain point: customer abandonment

One of the biggest threats to the buying journey is customer drop-off, where potential customers abandon a cart after being overwhelmed by excessive navigation steps, unclear checkout processes, logins, sign-ups or delivery and payment options. Worse yet is when customers get kicked out to external checkout pages, which add friction to the path to purchase and can have major negative impacts on conversion rates.

Eliminating any of the above friction points is key to driving online sales, and one of the best ways to do so is with shoppable ads. These ads, which can be implemented at any touchpoint in the customer journey, allow customers to shop directly from the ad and reduce the number of actions needed to make a purchase — decreasing the probability of an abandoned cart.

Why shoppable ads are the future of customer conversion

Consider the evolution of shoppability on Instagram over the past decade. From the introduction of ads in 2013 to the experimentation with shopping functionality in 2016, and the launch of the Shop tab in 2020 (retired in Feb 2023), Instagram has embraced shoppability via photo and video advertising.

Today, TikTok may challenge Instagram’s dominance (especially among Gen Z users), but the statistics speak volumes about the growing prominence of shoppable ads:

  • 43% of buy-side ad decision-makers plan to focus more on shoppable ads this year.
  • 55% of digital shoppers have placed an order on mobile.
  • 36% of US digital buyers made a purchase via social media platforms in 2023.

Social commerce is undeniably the new norm. Brands and retailers expect advertisements to feature shoppable functionality that guides consumers to websites, specialized landing pages and product detail pages for checkout or in-app purchases.

Not only do shoppable ads facilitate easier checkout experiences; they empower brands to include features such as in-stock indicators, promotional pricing, customer reviews and direct add-to-cart options — significantly boosting sales and reducing cart abandonment rates. This allows brands to customize their paths to purchase depending on their products, shoppers, and retailer needs.

Example: Pampers paid Instagram Ad to brand landing page

Shoppable ads bring a host of benefits for brands, retailers, and customers:

Benefits for businesses:

  • Increased conversion rates.
  • Higher customer engagement.
  • Improved ROI through shoppable ads.
  • Enhanced insights on shopper behavior for retargeting.

Benefits for customers:

  • Quick access to information on stock availability, where to purchase, and customer reviews.
  • Reduced friction in the add-to-cart and checkout process.
  • Convenience and ease in making purchases during research or product browsing.
  • Personalized experiences based on consumer attributes.

How to implement shoppable ads in campaigns

Whether your customer journey is awareness or conversion-focused, there are a few best practices to keep in mind when implementing shoppable ads into campaigns to achieve the best results.

  1. Determine the best shoppable content for the campaign platform at hand. While TikTok is an excellent platform for product discovery, for instance, Pinterest is ideal for project planning, decor, recipes, and more — making it a better fit for CPG and even hardware product discovery in many instances.
  2. Incorporate shoppable ads into email campaigns, print ads with QR codes, and social media awareness campaigns to drive consumers to product and where-to-buy landing pages. For a great example, check out Crock-Pot’s shoppable campaign for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
  3. Carefully consider ad design, call-to-action placement and landing page optimization. Testing and refinement help overcome potential challenges and limitations.
  4. Explore shoppable ads for new product launches, seasonal products, special promotions, or product bundles to increase brand awareness, shorten the path to purchase, and reduce friction in decision-making and checkout.

Shoppable ads provide brands with the tools to enhance the customer journey at every digital touchpoint, optimizing the process while enabling seamless shoppability. With ecommerce projected to drive retail sales growth and Gen Z fueling over 23% year over year growth in social commerce, shoppable ads offer a unique opportunity for brands to navigate uncertain times and achieve sales-focused growth.

This article was originally published at Retail Customer Experience.

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