Commerce : Why So Many Content Initiatives Fail

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In the battle for market shares and the favour of customers, ecommerce enterprises have discovered a new superweapon: content commerce. The goal here is to offer customers both extensive information and inspiration via digital channels as a way of motivating them to make a purchase and keeping them loyal to the respective brand.

Also mid-sized, traditional brands and merchants have now understood that they need to offer more online than just a product catalogue and payment functionality. As such, they are developing customer apps, strengthening their commitment to social media and giving their shops a visual upgrade.

Yet despite this, many content commerce initiatives often fall by the wayside or fail to meet expectations. In fact, many merchants are lagging well behind where they would ideally like to be. But why is this? And what kind of solution is required to get both IT and marketing moving forwards at the same time?

Success in Ecommerce Is Impossible Without Offering Convenience

As consumers, we all know that more content (i.e., more information) is great, as it helps us make good purchasing choices. However, additional content also makes research more complicated.

The fact that more and more platforms and channels that can be used for research are constantly being added also serves to compound the issue. We often start on our mobile phones by performing a google search, eventually ending up on a price comparison website. Then we click on a link to the brand website and finally place our order in the online shop the following day from our office PC – all of which is pretty laborious.

Customers therefore expect merchants to make it as easy as possible for them to do their research and make their purchase. In other words, they are focused on convenience.

survey undertaken by the US Retail Association shows this quite clearly.

According to the survey, as consumers, we are reluctant to admit that we consider convenience important. Indeed, only 13% of consumers surveyed stated this as their most important criterion when shopping. However, 97% stated they had already aborted a purchase, as the whole process was simply too time-consuming.

Some 52% of those surveyed said that half of their purchases were influenced by convenience. The results from the question as to which phase is the most important in terms of convenience are even more interesting:

In contrast to shopping in a physical store, consumers shopping online did not state that they value convenience primarily when actually making their purchase and checking out in the shop – as many might suspect.

In fact, some 38% considered convenience right at the start of the shopping process, i.e., while doing their research, the most important. For example, they wished it were easier to find offers, price comparisons, and product tests, as the following graphic shows:

Convenience, therefore, plays a key part in precisely the phase of the customer journey that content commerce aims to support. As such, marketers should not simply produce content and distribute it across all channels.

Instead, they must create integral customer experiences that make everything as easy and convenient as possible. Otherwise, they will lose these customers to competitors along the way.

Content Commerce Often Fails Due to the Basics

This may sound logical or even obvious – yet many merchants still make it unnecessarily difficult for their customers to do their research. Content commerce often already fails due to the basics. Here are some examples that you are sure to be familiar with:

  • When clicking on social media sites or google ads, customers end up on an overview page – and then need to search manually for the product they wish to purchase.

  • The shopping app contains only the basic product data, so customers looking for detailed reports or videos will need to visit the online shop.

  • The look, feel and navigation are totally different in the shop and on the website, so customers need to get used to the different appearance each time they switch between the two

  • The search function in the shop only allows users to find products, not more detailed content.

  • A discount campaign is advertised on the website, yet customers are first shown the standard prices in the shop.

Obviously, no retailer intentionally integrates hurdles of this kind, as they are clearly bad for business. So why do things like this still happen?

The Problem: The CMS and Online Shop Cannot Communicate With One Another

Many companies are still using legacy systems that have actually been outdated for years. But why? Because these solutions are perfect for specific tasks. In the case of CMS, this is creating and publishing content pages. In the case of commerce systems, this is managing product catalogues, as well as providing shopping basket and checkout functionality. The systems work well and everyone is familiar with them.

However, these solutions were not created with current ecommerce and omnichannel marketing requirements in mind. Both solutions have their own dedicated backends and frontends, as well as their own usability concepts. Online shop solutions often offer only rudimentary functions for creating content areas. They cannot be properly integrated with the CMS.

However, this is necessary when wishing to create full-scope content commerce campaigns and provide the convenience described above. Therefore, developers and marketers have to go to great lengths to perform what should be basic tasks. They attempt to extend the shop to include more content functions. They create individual interfaces or even enter all the content twice - once for each system.

However, workarounds of this kind simply cannot offer customers truly seamless customer experiences. As if that were not bad enough, refining and extending systems of this kind can quickly become a real nightmare, eating up vast amounts of money yet only moving forwards at a snail‘s pace - if at all.

So What Is the Best Option Here? Headless Architecture for the CMS and Shop

What is the solution to this problem? You require an ecommerce platform and CMS with headless architecture. In basic terms, this means that the backends and frontends (the “head”) of the solutions are completely independent of one another. In the backend of the headless CMS, your marketers create customer experiences from content, products and ecommerce functions, which are subsequently sent to the frontends together.

There is then no discernible separation between website and shop (or between app and shop, and so on) - either for customers or for the marketers. Everything is uniform and works seamlessly. This allows content and commerce to merge, which in turn enables marketers to work in the way they have always dreamed of.

Despite the clear benefits, the headless concept was long considered extremely technical and unsuitable for marketing. However, this reputation stems from the very early days of the technology and certainly no longer applies to modern, headless CMS. These offer developers and marketers genuine, measurable benefits.

An ecommerce platform created on a headless basis can also be scaled virtually limitlessly without the work becoming more complicated or slower. British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, for example, uses the Magnolia Headless CMS to manage its online shops for four brands, with over 1,500 retail shops connected.

But how exactly does a headless CMS support marketing and IT? Which factors need to be taken into account when selecting a CMS to ensure that the full potential is utilised for your ecommerce operations?

You can learn all about this in our free-of-charge white paper entitled "Choosing a CMS for the Future of Ecommerce"

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