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Ecommerce vs Entertainment – The New Battle for Primetime

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As 2020 and the first half of 2021 saw countries around the world move in and out of lockdowns under the Coronavirus pandemic, the acceleration of ecommerce is hardly surprising. Even more interesting during this time has been how shopping online has, for many, become their entertainment of choice.

According to the 2021 IAB Real Living Study, 2021 saw online shopping move into a primetime slot, drawing consumers’ attention. Illuminating this pandemic-era hobby, 56% of those surveyed reported that they find it an enjoyable experience, and 3 in 5 stated that it is something they actively look forward to doing again.

The study delved further to examine the times of day online shopping peaks, finding that the pattern for grocery and online retail is fairly similar, although retail builds from late afternoon onwards, whereas groceries have a sharper peak at 9pm. This 9pm peak for online shopping means it becomes a direct competitor to other forms of evening entertainment, with this also the highest viewing time for television and one of the most active times for viewers of short-form video and social media sites.

Consumer Fascination as a Marketing Asset

While this snapshot of ecommerce as entertainment is intriguing in and of itself — the fascination at the heart of it is what’s most valuable to marketers. As a brand, how do you capitalise upon this dynamic, with ecommerce as the leading source of entertainment? How can this inform your channel mix, your approach to merchandising and content, your creative, and even your optimisation tactics?

What we must keep in mind is that digital marketing and the various channels it encompasses should not be considered standalone, as the consumer purchase funnel is not linear.

Brands must look to interact with their ideal consumer (ICP) at every stage of the buying cycle and thus omnipresence is absolutely critical. Enter the value of partnership marketing — and the array of partner types at play within.

What We Can Learn from Consumer Journeying

As but one example, the Real Living Study found that the cohort of 16-34 year olds surveyed, in particular, agreed that along their journeys, “influencers on social media are a useful source to help discover new products.” Interlocking marketing programmes to feature digital ads, partner channel messaging, influencer marketing and even television has the potential to yield far higher conversion rates (CVR) than simply accessing audiences through one channel alone.

Take the current fad of the summer in the UK, Love Island. During its airing, brands who assimilate to this audience send app push notifications, they advertise during the ad breaks, they have partners send emails promoting the clothing the islanders are wearing and limited time offers. All of this makes for a unified strategy that jumps upon current trends in entertainment to maximise revenue gain. But now you’ve got their attention, how do you maintain it?

The huge purchasing power of ecommerce is driving many brands to explore new opportunities to grab shopper attention within their online journeys. This is where something like gamification, as another tactical example, comes into play.
Gamifying the shopping experience your consumers have with you means using game-like techniques to motivate your audience towards a behaviour aligned to your business targets and supplying them rewards when they exhibit this. This tactic could be offering a discount code for downloading your app or completing a challenge for participating in an exclusive sale.

This isn’t a new concept. Remember the McDonald’s Monopoly campaign? The concept is simple: buy more products and you have more chances to win. But how do you translate this into ecommerce?

On-site conversion partners are one partner type leading the way in this instance, offering consumers bundles, discounts and complimentary products at checkout as a means of both engaging their interest and increasing average order value (AOV). But it’s not limited to these partners. Consumers these days approach shopping like a sport, determined to get the most for their money.

And as competition increases amongst brands, it’s a race to ensure you’re top of mind. If consumers are spending more time shopping and enjoying the process, it would be warranted to assume that they will also put additional effort into checking they’ve got the best deal. It’s worth noting that here is where coupon and cashback partners really have their time to shine, especially given that in 2020, 88 percent of survey respondents in a United States study stated that they had used coupons for shopping and 77 percent of consumers spend $10 to $50 more than intended when redeeming coupons.

Further, 53.8 percent of internet users ranging between the ages of 18 to 29 years stated that discounts and coupons were a very important feature in the overall digital purchasing decision. The number however, was lower for respondents aged 60+ indicating that this trend is likely to continue as younger shoppers transition to become the primary target for brands.

eCommerce as Entertainment is Here to Stay

With consumers giving more of their time to the process of online shopping in parallel with the sharp rise in ecommerce, users are presented with the paradox of plenty and it’s crucial that brands take steps to align to this new wave of shoppertainment. Operating with the understanding that this is here to stay keeps you in the game. Omnipresence and engagement are absolutely key, gamification is an excellent ploy and rewards are simply expected. It doesn’t matter if you have historically been a market leading brand, the battle for entertainment is cutthroat and comedy genius alone won’t keep you from getting cancelled.

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Georgina Gray
Georgina Gray is the Customer Success Director at Partnerize, the leading provider of partnership automation solutions for global brands.

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