Contextual commerce is the new black

Here is a heads-up for contextual commerce. We had eCommerce, the F- and S- and T- and now we are simply back at c-commerce.

There are two converging trends that are now creating the typical mash-up of opportunities and crisis for retailers. (Hands-up if you have had enough change to last a lifetime?)

1. Content Marketing.

What? You didn’t know? Goodness, there is an INSTITUTE already and a recent report has found that 96% of Australian marketers use content marketing. But this post is not about content marketing so here is a good current overview. Content marketing is the background you must understand in order to get what contextual commerce is all about. So a short definition will suffice:

Content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.

2. eCommerce

It has proven pretty difficult to make a buck on the internet. There are of course a few success stories, but relative to the number of websites online, there are an infinitesimal number of commercial successes that are purely digital. (Internet users have grown up on a diet of FREE, it seems.)

Almost every business model of any internet enterprise that does not sell physical goods, pornography or advice on how to make money on the internet makes money via advertising. Google makes BILLIONS with Adwords.

But even the Adwords goldmine will run dry - unless Google jumps the curve to acquire a new platform for contextual commerce, which is the convergence of content and ecommerce.

Opensky focuses on social network for its contextual commerce efforts.

And Mulu focuses on what they call ‘shoppable ads’.

The above are applications that provide contextual commerce. That is, there are services (applications) that allow the product owners to ‘own’ key words on other websites (content providers) which, when clicked on, does not take you to a website and does not pop up and advertisement – it allows you to buy the item straightaway. ) There are several examples of how some publishers are riding the content wave.)

For example the technology to click on an item of clothing an actress on TV is wearing and then be taken to your shopping cart is rapidly maturing. That is an example of the ‘context’ of that particular item of clothing (provided by the television story) is what sells the item. (I.e. not an advertisement during a break in the programming.)

Contextual commerce is set to disrupt marketing as we know it substantially. It is a world without ads, because everything you see and read and interact with IS ALREADY the ad. Another way is to view it as product placement that is directly shoppable.

What to do?

I advise clients to bet on every technology horse possible. Not because we don’t know what to do or which technology is the best fit, but the process of constantly re-setting the business to cope with changing technologies is the core competency that every organisation must develop.

I think Facebook is going to fail – or at the very least shrink substantially, but at the same time I still advise many clients to hone their technology competencies on Facebook even though in a few years it may be filed in a memory cabinet along with Ning and Myspace and a long list of others. As I made clear in this post, I am not anti-internet. On the contrary if technology is not part of your present, you have no future.

If you put your hand up in the opening paragraph, please note my question was not facetious: the only way to survive, grow and be successful is to build resilient (or rather antifragile) organisations. That is; building an organisation that is designed to cope with constant change is the goal

Go to it…


Ganador Management Solutions specialises in helping organisations in the retail supply chain deal productively with challenges of change.

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