Opinion

eCommerce: an engine for creative transformation

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Marketers can now apply huge amounts of data into a purchase moment, turning every point of contact into a potential purchase act. It is no wonder it’s been hailed as the death of creative marketing says MediaCom's Josh Gallagher.

It goes without saying that one of the biggest shifts in our lives over the past year has been the way we shop. Online shopping with 10 years of progress crammed in to 10 months, is now estimated to be a $5trillion dollar industry globally. Despite its 27% growth over this period, it is the ability for creatives to impact the ecommerce industry which is being put into question. In recent years, creativity has unquestionably been sidelined as data fueled retail environments have found new ways to get results by simply putting average work into more relevant spaces.

As brands feed off the thought that 63% of people visit an online retailer before a physical store, an obsession with ‘sales velocity’ has seduced creative marketers in to believe in the short-term only and retail platforms have followed suit. The experience on a typical marketplace is shockingly similar. Whether you want to invest in a luxury watch or buy ‘fast-fashion’ for a Friday night out, you are greeted with an uninspiring image of the product against a soulless white background. Every product page looks the same. Commerce is killing creativity.

We are in a creativity crisis that has been brought about by constrained creative canvas. Brands are becoming invisible.

To win, however, creativity must play a proportionate role – “for people to find your brand, they need to know you brand.” Brands must repair broken omnichannel experiences. They must communicate their distinctive value at the point of sale. This requires a marketplace strategy that harnesses brand stories to spark preference and purchasing. The key is to deliver convenience and one-click customer journeys with creative storytelling that puts brand experience on the digital shelf.

Use communities to drive relationship-oriented brands

To start the process, we need to alter the view that companies have viewed digital marketplaces in largely transactional terms—as channels to sell products, not to deliver brand experiences. Thinking in communities shifts brands from static stores to how they can encourage consumers to be active brand promoters.

Influencers are having a huge impact on commerce, through new platforms like livestreaming. Last year in her room, a Chinese livestreamer single-handedly sold $6Billion worth of products. That is about equal to the annual China sales of chain supermarket Carrefour.

Brands have spent years and billions of dollars telling stories to create meaningful connections with consumers that drive sales and loyalty. But this content is invisible at the point of sale unless we take a new perspective.

Think about how conversation can change retail interactions

Conversational commerce – by voice or through messaging on social platforms - is on the cusp of taking over. It is a paradigm shift and an opportunity to super charge creativity by being relevant in personal platforms.

In the US, we expect 35.2% of smart speaker users ages 14 and older, to use a smart speaker this year to research products or add products to a shopping cart with a voice command. Many markets will also follow China down the social commerce path, where consumers are able to talk through chat with brands before making a purchase, with the US seeing penetration now representing 4.3% of total eCommerce sales.

With customers now expecting the same experience online as they have offline, brands need to decode changing retail relationships and change product descriptions to product experiences.

Create magic in conversion moments

Finally, it is about closing the sale. Incentivizing people to buy is where we need a massive hit of creativity.

Bose Noise Cancelling headphones in the Middle East, took a different perspective on how they could use data to sell products. With millions of office workers currently working from home, they found that not all home offices are quiet, making productivity difficult. To solve this that converted everyday decibels into discount coupons. The louder your home office, the larger your discount.

This playful yet rewarding premise used data and technology in a new way to beat the marketplace algorithms and sell more product in a new, creative canvas.

Key take-aways for brands:

  1. Communities can drive tangible momentum in commerce by using social proof as brands take a new perspective to selling online.
  2. Conversational commerce can supercharge creativity & infiltrate person contexts through product experiences.
  3. Brands must incentive people to buy by being relevant in conversion and rethink the role of data in retail environment.
  4. With pioneering and holistic ecosystem strategies creating magic through audience planning, UX, SEO and beyond, fresh commerce presents brands with significant creative transformation potential.

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