Increasingly, brands need to make sure they are ever-present where consumers expect to find them. Distributed commerce (sometimes referred to as “shoppable content” or “universal cart”) is not a new concept; however, it is becoming more prevalent because of social commerce.

What is distributed commerce? It is the ability for consumers to buy from embedded content without leaving the platform or page they might be on. This also leads to fewer clicks which usually translate to higher sales, and that makes this even more compelling.

Essentially, it is the buying that happens across any experience or medium that is not restricted to the websites or the brand apps.

Content as part of commerce has always been important, but it is becoming even more integral to the overall experience. Brands can no longer solely rely on simply directing consumers to a destination or an online store. It is not a key differentiator for a retailer or brand.

Why? Because content-driven experiences are entrenched in commerce now. Look no further than Instagram’s shoppable posts and stories, and marketplaces that are making this part of the content platform. These are just a few examples:

Most recently, Verizon announced Touchpoints, an ad format that allows brands to create instant shoppable catalog so users can tap a pin within the native ad unit to shop. Verizon Media advertisers have seen a 23% lift in return on advertising spend (ROAS) and 35% increase in click-through rate (CTR) over standard native static ads using the new feature.

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Touchpoints offers a shoppable catalog within the ad unit.

The online marketplace eBay will be the first advertising partner to use the Shoppable video format. It will integrate the eBay’s wide selection of one-of-a-kind items and trending products from top brands into shoppable carousels beneath gift guide videos.

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eBay is leveraging the Shoppable video format.

In August, Buzzfeed’s food vertical, Tasty, launched a partnership with Walmart that provides Tasty app users with “shoppable recipes,” allowing them to add the ingredient lists from any video directly into an online Walmart grocery cart for pickup or delivery.

This is also being driven by augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) uptake. eMarketer estimates that in 2019 the number of AR users in the US will grow 14.9% to 58.8 million. At the same time, more than 20 million users who began using AR between 2016 and 2018 will have grown more accustomed to its use in everyday life. 

YouTube’s shoppable AR capability has made this more accessible – brands can now use a three-dimensional, visual medium as a powerful tool to tell richer, more engaging stories about their products to consumers.

Further, as voice and conversational commerce becomes more prevalent, distributed commerce needs to be part of brands’ playbooks. 76.5 million people in the US—nearly 23% of the population—will use smart speakers at least monthly by 2020.

It isn’t simply inspiring content that needs to be in many more places than ever before – it is also product content. In addition to publisher-driven and social content, we see it happening with apps such as Drop, a unique rewards platform and Mavely, a curated shopping app that rewards women for their everyday activities like shopping, sharing and influencing.

Brands have to distribute their content and the ability to shop in the moment consumers are most receptive. When you operate a branded marketplace with several brands and products, this becomes even more necessary. Driving customers to the destination can no longer be the primary tactic: you must ensure the content is contextual in-feed in social or within the native publisher or other app environment.

In the year to come, shoppable and distributed content will become increasingly the norm.

Krithika Rosenthal

Written by Krithika Rosenthal

Krithika Rosenthal is the VP, Director of Strategy at Optaros by MRM. Krithika is a strategist with over 8 years of experience in different aspects of digital strategy and transformation. She currently leads the Strategy Practice within Optaros by MRM, with an emphasis on marketplace strategy. Her expertise spans across both B2B and B2C, and is experienced in content development, cross-platform strategy, research and analysis, consumer behavior and positioning.

Throughout her career she has managed the P&L of celebrity chat show, Let's Talk, in India and successfully positioned and differentiated the brand as "Bollywood glamour reveal all" achieving increase in rating and profit by 10% for the production company, Miditech Pvt. Ltd. Identified emerging and growing need of business prospects for an integrated marketing and media solutions provider at Maverick Productions Pvt. Ltd. Contributed to finding vertical integration synergy with comparable vendors leading to the acquisition of Limelight advertising agency. And at Digital Talkies she generated 100% revenue from five new business prospects gained within six months, employed penetration pricing to attract new customers and establish the brand positioning.

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