Tag Archives: shopping

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Bye Buy: Shoppable Tweets are no more.

It’s been a while coming, but Shoppable Tweets are finally being phased out after Twitter’s commerce team have disbanded and the social platform refocuses its efforts elsewhere. Does this mark the beginning of the end of shoppable social?

Twitter is facing all sorts of challenges around securing a purpose and business model which ensures its future. As an organisation, they’re still unsure of exactly what they offer the market and where revenue should come from. At this point, functionality which is not core to their product is simply a distraction.

With that for context, it would be rash to claim this sounds the death knell for the concept of ‘Buy Now’ buttons outside of e-commerce environments, and as Twitter may be stepping away from commerce in social, other platforms invest more in to it.

Pinterest have been supporting ‘buyable pins’ for about 18 months. As a platform which is both a highly visual environment that can ‘face up’ products extremely well, and providing significant inspiration and research tool for many users – adding the ability to immediately own something that you discover whilst in this headspace feels like a very native part of the Pinterest experience. In contrast, the leap from reading to buying was often much larger with Twitter.

Instagram too have recently launched shoppable tags, with a limited number of brands such Kate Spade coming on board as launch partners. Another highly visual platform, Instagram often features products in brand channels, promoted posts and consumer posts – so again this feels like a very natural place to close the gap between inspiration, desire and purchase. Instagram’s further attraction is its high profile authors – the celebrities and influencers posting content on a regular basis. If Taylor Swift posts a selfie, featuring a tagged shoppable item to her 64 million followers, you can pretty much ensure a healthy return on a piece of non-paid media.

Others are dabbling too.

YouTube has shoppable video and Facebook has a range of shoppable formats. Brands have toyed with various types of shoppable content – Burberry’s shoppable live-streamed catwalk during the 2016 London Fashion Week is a notable example of allowing customers to buy immediately, not having to wait until product hit the shelves.

And therein lies the insight. The increasing on-demand expectation of consumers, that they be able to buy something whenever and however they see it, means brands are constantly looking for ways of making their brand as accessible as possible.

Where it fails, however, is if the moment or context is wrong.

A predominantly textual experience does not make for a good shopping experience for many brands – poor Twitter.

A visual feast, with great photography and rich video – in other words, the closest thing to holding the product in your hand (VR not withstanding) is a significant part of “new retail” – and using frictionless payment technology, smart integration of stock availability and rapid fulfilment means Inspiration and Purchase can exist within the same two swipes.

So, this is the end of the first generation of shoppable media – the blunt approach of making everything shoppable has passed. Here comes the next generation, and now it’s time to learn from early experimentation and apply it intelligently.

Slapping a Buy Now button onto every piece of media and communications is not clever. No-one wants to be sold to constantly. But enabling purchase in the most meaningful and relevant moments, and making that experience as effortless as possible? Well, that’s new retail.

Originally posted at: Retail Week

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It’s Amazon Prime Day, again.

Apparently it’s that time of year again – Amazon Prime Day returns. After last year’s celebration of Amazon’s birthday with a day to rival Black Friday, this year’s Amazon Prime Day is hotly anticipated – by consumers ready to snag a deal, and, I assume, Amazon’s accountants too.

Last year was reportedly a lacklustre affair – with many a social mention about Prime Day deals being on less than ‘premium’ or desirable products – there was the story of the $1000 oil drum of lube you’ll no doubt remember, but generally a sense of distressed inventory being flogged at yard sale prices – although I expect this is more Amazon being a victim of their own success – some products allegedly ran off the shelves in a matter of seconds, leaving the long tail of less demanded products remaining – although for the internet giant, the commercial benefit of creating an owned shopping holiday in an otherwise generally quiet time of year is probably clear – Walmart, for instance is responding by offering free shipping for the whole week.

Amazon need to now really ensure that significant availability of demanded products is maintained in order to cement Prime Day as a recurring retail event which is genuinely to be excited about as a shopper.

If I were in charge of Amazon Prime Day – I’d probably do three things for future Prime Days:

1. Prime Day currently feels a little like a giant shop floor without curation – Amazon sit on a huge wealth of personalised behaviour and commerce data which could be used to personalise the experience for each consumer – and naturally manage stock levels and expectation. I’d love to see an Amazon Prime Day store for Matthew (probably containing a brand new coffee grinder, an Amazon Echo and lots of discounted LEGO).

2. Go beyond boxed product – maybe Amazon Prime Day could be so much more than just shopping, but an entire experience – live music, content premieres, surprise Prime Now deliveries, local events that pick up on the local cultural nuances.

3. Let Alexa order for you – for just one day, your Amazon Echo will just order anything it hears you mention, regardless of what it is. You talk about a caravan, it’ll arrive at 5pm. You mention Alexander Skarsgard, he’ll come around for dinner. Hand your shopping decisions over to the ‘bots.

Maybe we’re not ready for the last suggestion just yet – but as Amazon continue to grow their offering, beyond physical product, in to content, in to fresh foods, into on-demand deliveries, into connected home services, it’s not a stretch to imagine Amazon playing a larger role in our lives beyond retail, and that we’ll increasingly trust the platform with making decisions for us (i.e. subscriptions to products based upon price not brand; artificial intelligence informed recommendations; automated replenishment services), and if there is one thing which is absolutely true about Amazon, they learn from their innovation (whether successful or not) and iterate smarter services to move forward – so I expect this year’s Amazon Prime to be a doozy.

And I’m still holding out for an Amazon Echo.

(This article was originally posted on Campaign)

Convergence is Redefining Retail.

Innovation is disrupting and redefining retail as never before.

A convergent media landscape, created by fast-changing technologies, has increasingly blurred the boundaries between media, social networks and retail.

The combination of advances in technology and shifting consumer’ expectations has resulted in e-commerce increasingly meaning “everywhere-commerce”.

Tech innovation has led to the emergence of the always-on consumer, who expects goods to be just a single tap away, and to be able to effortlessly shop across a multitude of channels, at the right time and in the most convenient place – a phenomenon accelerated by the rise of mobile commerce, which is set to exceed £15bn in the UK this year.

To address this consumer need, tech and social media companies are looking into new methods of shortening the path to purchase, laying the foundations for the creation of an everywhere commerce ecosystem.

In recent weeks several media / tech companies have made a foray into this space, evolving from pure media players into digital commerce game changers. For example, YouTube has recently launched click-and-buy video adverts, allowing consumers to buy products directly from the video ads they are watching.

As part of its attempt to take on Amazon and eBay, Google has revealed plans to embed a “buy button” to its search results, enabling consumers to make purchases without needing to visit an alternative site.

Pinterest is planning to introduce a “buy button” on its platform too, whilst Twitter and Facebook have been testing one since last year.

For brands existing in the retail space, it’s clear that e-commerce, mobile commerce or ‘everywhere commerce’ is critical to the successful growth of their business. Take Mondelez, Diageo, and AB InBev, for example, which as businesses generally don’t sell directly to consumers, but they are now looking into how all forms of digital commerce can deliver growth, and it’s here that the role of media has never been clearer in driving direct business value.

Mondelez has recently embedded a ‘buy it now’ button into the brand’s online media, allowing customers to buy their favourite snacks directly from online video advertising, online promotions and social media.

Retailers looking to harness the power of convergent commerce need to follow five principles:

Brilliant basics: retailers must focus on accessibility. Search, marketing and addressing any failings in mobile optimisation are crucial. This has become even more important since the introduction of the new Google’s search algorithm, which will show only ‘mobile friendly’ websites on its search results.

Smarter media: retailers must deploy data to ensure effective targeting strategies. These will help retailers engage with the right people with the right message, and then create the opportunity for consumers to buy within media rather than just driving them to point-of-sale. Mobile technology has added a shoppable layer to most media channels, such as digital out-of-home or television, allowing us to add a shopping basket within ad units, tweet to purchase, support micropayments, pre-ordering, group purchases, and many other forms of sale. With technologies like Sky AdSmart, programmatic buying and second-screening, we’re reaching a point where we can personalise TV advertising as never before, enabling consumers to purchase the products they are watching on the screen without even entering credit card details, and have them in their hands within the hour.

Constant innovation: retailers must constantly test and learn, experimenting with new channels, technologies, distribution models, partnerships, content and creative thinking. Insights from testing new approaches are always valuable.

Holistic evaluation: in an everywhere-commerce environment, retailers need to have a strong understanding of which touch-points within their ecosystem are delivering against which KPIs, and how the network is performing holistically. A data-led evaluation framework enables retailers to optimise the entire operation around channels that truly work.

Internal collaboration: existing barriers between internal departments need to be broken down. There is a lot of crossover between product, trading, commerce and marketing, and integrated thinking and shared objectives have become a must for retailers wanting to meet expectations and needs of a consumer with an on-demand mindset.

Opinion originally posted on http://www.retailgazette.co.uk/blog/2015/06/how-retailers-can-harness-the-power-of-media

Unnovations.

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(Image courtesy of the US Patent Office. Thanks guys, you’re legends)

Unnovation – the digitisation of a non-digital experience without additional thought around whether simple transfer from physical to digital really works. Using new technology either for the sake of technology or not using the technology to any potential..

Digital fridges are unnovation. Putting a screen on the fridge to display a to-do list, digitally replicating the photos, magnets and notes.

Digital signage is unnovation. Being able to replace paper with screens that do nothing more than being able to swap the bit of paper slightly faster.

It sits within the ‘Adjacent Possible’ concept that Steven B Johnson eloquently describes, where ideas are only possible by taking the next logical step from the current behaviours and technologies we have.

Unnovation, however, is fascinating for me.

In a recent research project for a client, I was exploring current and upcoming techniques in retail (offline and online) especially around new technology and emergent behaviours. What was striking was the amount of duplication and replication of ideas. Square, for instance, has inspired a dozen other mobile POS devices, and I lost count of the number of Shopping List applications for smart phones.

The shopping list apps are generally unnovation – digital versions of scraps of paper. Sure, you might be able share your list (although who cares that I need a can of tomatoes and a new bra?), you might want to find them for the cheapest price, but they’re all the same model: find a scrap of paper, itemise your list, purchase your items. Disconnected, and not smart.

Yet, the vast number of apps which display Shopping List functionality is encouraging.
We still need to remember stuff to purchase, and purchase it.

Innovation can often focus too much on external directions, moving from your passion centre and exploring new spaces for your business, when sometimes it can be far better to look inwards and identify the problems and opportunities right in front of you or that people are demanding. Asking people what they want can lead to a recommendation of a faster horse, but as Russell Davies puts it:

“Imagine what horses might be like now if science/industry had devoted as much attention to improving them as we’ve devoted to the internal combustion engine and industrial production. Horses would be INCREDIBLE.”

That there are many many many clones and examples of unnovation suggests there is an itch which is not being adequately scratched. It suggests no-one has provided a strong enough solution to address the process. When looking at a busy area of supposed innovation, such as retail, disregarding ideas like Shopping Apps simply because there are already 100 in the app store is not always a good idea. Sure, you need to do more to stand out, but that’s the opportunity, asking why a shopping list on a digital device needs to replicate its physical counterpart.

Understanding users’ demands, existing behaviours and looking at popular areas of development are massively valuable to innovation.
You might not start with a radically different product, but if there is a demand for something, it could help you fund the more visionary work you hope to continue investing in.

Update: There’s a really great article at Fast Co which expands upon the idea of spotting the value in popular suggestions.