Christmas trading is rapidly approaching. For retailers this highly pressurised time of year is set against sluggish economic growth and high inflation, making it especially vital that they make the most of this prime sales period.  

But the economy isn’t the only challenge retailers face. With more websites, stores and devices available to purchase from than ever before, reaching the consumer in the right place at the right time is increasingly complex.  

To cut through the noise in Q4 2023, retailers must not only be able to capture consumer attention at exactly the right moment but also provide a seamless path to purchase. With content-led shopping experiences becoming increasingly common, retailers who evolve their content commerce strategies in line with the latest market trends can put themselves on course for a successful quarter. 

TikTok has set the bar for the new generation of content commerce 

The major driving force behind the explosion of content commerce right now is TikTok. The social media platform that has taken the world by storm, is set to grow its audience to 19.8% of all internet users by next year. And with small businesses on TikTok contributing £1.63 billion to UK GDP – all retailers should sit up and pay attention. 

TikTok has been responsible for not only setting expectations of what a good content commerce experience should be like, but also creating new customer behaviours. TikTok users expect to not only watch videos on the platform, but to be able to interact with these videos and even buy from them. Items from multiple sellers can be added into one cart without users having to leave the app. There are literally millions of items for consumers to discover on the platform, intrinsically woven into the user-generated content created by the TikTok community.

The link between content and commerce is the secret sauce driving TikTok’s success. But it isn’t the only player moving the needle at the moment. Amazon and Snapchat have developed new AR tools to enhance the shopping experience. 

Enabling purchases at the moment of inspiration

The thing that all effective content commerce strategies have in common is a seamless link between the moment of inspiration and purchase. TikTok, Amazon and Snap have recognised that this functionality will drive conversions and increase gross merchandise value, and retailers that want to succeed in Q4 must follow their lead. While not every retailer can fall back on a huge audience of content creators like TikTok, or has the sheer scale of Amazon, they can adapt their offerings to reflect the new behaviours that these trailblazers have nurtured. 

Experimenting with technologies such as interactive video and AR can be hugely beneficial for retailers, enabling them to provide an enhanced experience for consumers. Interactive, shoppable videos and AR offer customers a choice of the products they look at, real-time pricing and availability, and – crucially – the chance to make a purchase at precisely the moment of inspiration. They don’t need to click through to a separate site, but can checkout in-stream without leaving the content they are engaged with. 

Uncovering deeper insights into consumer behaviour

As well as driving conversions, interactive video and AR tools offer additional value for retailers. It’s possible to track in-video decisions through features such as branching – where consumers effectively choose their own pathways – and clickable hotspots to see how customers behave. AR ‘try-on’ tools also uncover deep insights into consumer decision-making and behaviour. 

Best of all, these insights can be accessed in real time, meaning retailers will be able to quickly identify any barriers to conversion, and even personalise customer journeys by showing appropriate content and products to the right person at the right time. This immediacy is vital for retailers that want to maximise key sales periods such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas. 

The right strategy in Q4 2023 will lead to long-term success

Retailers that embrace interactive video and AR to enhance the customer experience can reap the rewards of the content commerce opportunity this quarter. But the behavioural changes that TikTok in particular has sparked among consumers will play out over the longer term, so retailers should put interactive video and AR at the heart of their long term content commerce strategies, not just for Christmas. 

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