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Demandware the industry-leading provider of enterprise cloud commerce solutions, and L2, Inc., a member-based business intelligence service that benchmarks the digital competence of brands, today announced the release of a new report that examines the efforts of 80 global brands to produce and syndicate content across the consumer shopping experience. The L2 Intelligence Report: Content and Commerce, developed in partnership with Demandware, analyses the brands and best practices that are removing organisational and technological barriers to deliver an integrated content and commerce experience, and drive sales online and in-store.

Insights are organised around four types of content believed to have a disproportionate impact on ecommerce conversion, including blogs, microsites, videos, tutorials, user generated content and guided selling tools. The study shows that commerce experiences that are infused with strategic content can educate, engage and convert the consumer, bringing them further down the path to purchase and improve a retailer’s bottom line. Yet, for the majority of brands, efforts in branded content creation are still nascent. The study found that while substantial budget has been allocated to content, just 39 percent of B2C brands have a documented content strategy in place, and only 67 percent have a dedicated executive in place to oversee content efforts.

 “Retailers must weave together content and commerce. Too many treat their brand as a Faberge egg that only a few can manage or touch,” said Scott Galloway, clinical professor of marketing, NYU Stern and founder of L2. “The report findings reveal that brand marketing content often stands in the way of the customer and their needs and disrupts the shopper’s journey.”

 

Additional study highlights include:

 

·       Many brands expect their content investments to pay dividends only in the form of increased brand awareness and engagement — 79 percent of brands classify awareness as a major goal of their content marketing programs, while 51 percent now expect their content to drive conversion.

·       Video is one of the most influential types of digital content in driving purchasing decisions – with between 35 and 53 percent of consumers in the world’s largest markets using digital video as a source of recommendations. Despite the maturity of the medium, the study found that just one-in-five brands are investing in product page videos in Asia compared to one-in-three brands in Western Europe, while the level of adoption in the U.S. is almost half.

·       Beauty brands lead the way in the implementation of guided selling tools, with 79 percent having created one or more digital experiences such as foundation finders, skincare diagnostics, shade matchers and other tools, yet just seven percent leverage these tools on product pages, limiting their potential impact as a customer acquisition vehicle.

·       The effectiveness of content varies by region. APAC markets, specifically South Korea and Japan, have found that user generated content (UGC) marketing delivers a higher return of their marketing mix. On average, 19 percent of beauty brands incorporate UGC onto product pages in Asia, a higher proportion than the U.S. (14 percent) and Western Europe (zero percent).

 

The study concludes that three major content and commerce strategy pain points hamper organisations worldwide, including content ownership, content objectives and content globalisation. Brands have struggled to identify solutions, and as a result, when benchmarked on their content performance, the majority falls into a “Weak Content” quadrant when their scores are averaged across regions. Among brands with “Strong Content” performance, one-third exhibit high variance across sites – meaning the integration of content and commerce in some regions is weaker than in others. Brands with high content variance can often attribute discrepancies to a disparate platform strategy. They may have adopted a best-in-breed ecommerce platform in the U.S., but still rely on homegrown solutions in Europe and/or Asia, making it difficult to organise for content success globally. On the contrary, the majority of brands that fall in or near the “Strong Content, Low Variance” quadrant leverage a single ecommerce platform across multiple regions. The platform supports efficient content management, and provides a flexible springboard from which to launch strategic content initiatives that can be cascaded globally.

 

“Brands today can choose to compete on price or on brand differentiation,” said Jeffrey Barnett, COO, Demandware. “Competing head-to-head on price with online marketplaces of massive scale is extremely challenging. But, brands have the home field advantage when it comes to content. Leveraging branded content throughout the commerce experience can be the key to unlocking a compelling and distinctive shopping experience that will increase consumer engagement, build brand loyalty and optimise conversion.”

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