Convenience has long been a fundamental ecommerce principle, with retailers offering faster and then wider access to products. Inevitably the concept of convenience gave rise to giants such as Amazon and eBay, who offer everything consumers might need all under one roof. Now, with vast product catalogues and seemingly endless brands to choose from, the fundamentals have changed.
Curated commerce takes over
For retailers in a single market e.g. Fashion, there is often not the vertical opportunities to expand their product selection; making it harder to compete with marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon. Curated commerce however looks to level the playing field. Through the introduction of personalisation and segmentation on page, curated commerce offers brands looking to appeal directly to their customers on a more exclusive basis the opportunity to inspire engagement, sales and loyalty.
Less is more
With curated commerce, less is always more thanks to powerful segmentation and personalisation techniques. Regularly compared to boutique style shopping, this ecommerce trend enables retailers to offer consumers a small and exclusive collection of products centred on a topic or theme, and ideally targeted to specific consumer segments. Focused on niche demographics and consumer preferences, segmentation is enhanced with the use of personalisation techniques such as product recommendations based on on-going search and purchase behaviour. By gathering, monitoring and extrapolating information from customers, merchants can create more focused and personalised product collections that go beyond basic purchase history recommendations.
The success of consumer curated sites such as Pinterest have inspired brands to adopt similar strategies, from JustFab who offer monthly curated shoe collections based on a style survey filled out by customers, to Canopy who use a team of stylists to curate the best products from Amazon based on current trends. Pinterest, JustFab and Canopy exemplify the success of curated commerce thanks to the benefits to both consumers and merchants.
The benefits of curated commerce
For consumers curated commerce alleviates many of the problems associated with large product catalogues. Easier to browse and more engaging than a long list of products, curated categories also offers retailers the chance to push collections that consumers might not have otherwise discovered. Whether the product collection offers a variety of brands curated on a 3rd party site such as Polyvore, or a brand/retailer uses a product collection to promote limited edition or lesser known products from their catalogue, curated commerce provides businesses with the opportunity to display more unique and undiscovered products at the forefront of communications.
These benefits are further amplified with the personal edge offered by curated commerce. Using features such as Shop the Look, consumers benefit by avoiding hundreds of irrelevant products and instead get direct access to the ones that appeal most to them. Even without the relevant data needed to create highly personalised suggestions, consumers can still enjoy product collections of the latest trends or from their favourite stylists which provides a boutique style personal touch.
Merchants in turn can expect to see increased customer engagement driving sales and conversions. Customer satisfaction and attraction to more tailored product offerings and creative communications mean more purchase decisions based on desire and less on price, which help to push AOV’s and purchase frequency up.
Curated commerce also helps to ignite feelings of pleasure and pride in customers as they purchase products they perceive express their distinct style, is particularly trendy or is more unique than other products. These types of feelings are an essential ingredient for inspiring word of mouth and social sharing, as customers want to show off their purchase or recommend their purchases to friends and families. Even more importantly this brand advocacy is a strong driving force for returning customers and brand loyalty, as they return to seek out similarly satisfying purchases.
Join the club
The range of curated commerce strategies and methods are an indication of the creative potential of this trend, with varying degrees of personalisation and collaboration across a range of brands. From the complex to the basic, there are a variety of ways to adopt curated commerce as part of your digital strategy. Magento identifies five approaches in their curated commerce eBook along with pioneering brands, which we’ve used to help present three easy to implement curated commerce opportunities.
The growing variety of curated commerce social sites offers a platform with an established consumer base actively looking for and engaging with curated commerce. Sites like AHALife, which partners with industry leaders and innovators and Pinterest which focuses on curated content by a member community, provide opportunities for retailers to present their own curated collections or have a third party include one of their products in a related collection.
Members of communities can then like and follow the brands, adding products or collections to their wish list or purchase straight away. Truly authentic brands take the opportunity to curate their own products along with a mix of products from other retailers, creating honest content that makes customers feel catered to rather than sold to. Being part of the community also means retailers can monitor and follow general industry trends as well as attitudes to their own brand and products. Understanding what consumers like, who’s influential and the position of your brand within the community is all part of creating more personalised and targeted communications. It’s also a chance for the retailer to express their own personality for that all important human touch.
Shop the Look
This magazine style experience encourages consumers to consider and purchase a range of products by curating them based on a particular theme, trend or style. Showing the products in-situ enables another line of appeal as consumers can more easily visualise themselves with the products. Fashion brands such as NastyGal make particular use of this with wearable themes released regularly. For retailers looking to experiment with curated commerce or for those that don’t have the wealth of consumer data needed to create highly personalised campaigns, shop the look is more easily implemented than some of the more involved curated commerce methods.
One of the biggest appeals of curated commerce is its ability to present products in a fresh way that is more intriguing and attractive than a standard catalogue of seemingly unrelated product styles. This effect is better achieved through guest editors, who can create product collections based around their knowledge of upcoming trends or even their own personal tastes. Big brands such as J. Crew are doing this with the use of well-known designers who are invited to create collections based on their own style – this has the double benefit of being on trend and having a personal celebrity touch that customers can relate to. Smaller merchants can achieve a similar twist on their own products by identifying opinion leaders and well-connected individuals and encouraging them to include relevant products in their collections. Equally retailers should provide their website as a creative platform for influential community members to create special curated product collections based on upcoming trends or relevant current themes.
Curating your business online
The relatively new but growing trend of curated commerce affords retailers the chance to explore as yet undiscovered and innovative ways to show case their products. For those just starting out simply observing curated commerce communities will unveil new ideas, while many will benefit from taking the plunge and creating strategic affiliations for guest content opportunities. Pairing curated commerce collections with personalisation strategies such as product recommendation emails, or even a more sophisticated membership scheme to identify and target customer preferences will help to directly drive customer satisfaction and engagement.
If you want discuss curated commerce or one of the many other ways we can help you optimise your digital strategy, get in touch with one of our team today on 01344 266 844.