Contextual Commerce: The Future of Shopping

The Dawn of a New Age of eCommerce

Contextual commerce. Micro moments. Frictionless commerce. Conversational commerce. These strategies have all been hailed as the future of eCommerce. They have different names, but share the same essential concept: Using creative and convenient methods to reach customers during critical moments. We can all agree that the future of eCommerce is simple. But simple does not always mean easy.
 
So what is contextual commerce? Or frictionless commerce? Or whatever you want to call it?

Essentially, contextual commerce is strategically placing your product or service in front of a shopper, on any device they’re using, when they are most ready to buy, and providing a simple and convenient purchasing experience.

Let’s look at some real-world examples.

The ability to buy anything—anytime, anywhere, on any device—with the push of a button or the sound of your voice is already a reality. Devices like Amazon’s Alexa allow you to order a pizza with just a few words. Across social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest, Buy Now buttons let you purchase products directly from a retailer’s post or ad. This super-convenience isn’t limited to digital shopping either; you can find ads about a killer sale at your favorite neighborhood store right in your News Feed.

Brands are meeting user demands in creative and exciting ways. For example, imagine you’re traveling to a new city. With one app, you can hail a taxi, check into your hotel, and make a dinner reservation, all while waiting in Baggage Claim. Sound too good to be true? It’s not.  Uber rolled out these functionalities last year, through strategic partnerships with companies like Hilton and Zomato. It’s the perfect example of offering a product or service users need—arranging travel, skipping check-in hassles, or making dinner plans—precisely when they’re thinking about it—right after landing in a new destination.
 
So how does this work for me?

Sure, big names like Uber and Hilton are blazing the contextual commerce trail. But how does it work for everyday businesses? Is contextual commerce something small businesses can afford to achieve? If you don’t already have a user pool of millions, is this a feasible, practical approach?

Yes and no.

Many contextual commerce strategies rely on an incredibly in-depth understanding of user demographics. In order to succeed, retailers must be able to predict user behavior to a high degree. This super-personalization is a bit out of reach for some small businesses. It’s just not affordable—yet. Not every small business can afford to spend a million on a new mobile application or pay $150K a year for marketing automation software. We are not all Uber.

The good news is that affordable options do exist. Whether your operation is purely eCommerce or you’ve got an omnichannel brick-and-click business, you can wade into the contextual commerce waters with these solutions.
 
1. Use the targeting tools in Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

For those brick-and-click brands, take advantage of the geographical targeting tools within social media advertising. Use targeting to display ads to people in your geographical area, and make your goal to get new shoppers into your store.

For online only businesses, focus on turning your engaged social media followers into buyers with direct purchasing. Create ads that allow your viewers to truly experience the product and its benefits. Then use the Buy Now functionality within those ads. This is a great way to provide a seamless, super-convenient purchasing experience, without disrupting a user’s social media time.
 
2. Explore contextual commerce features with Braintree Payments

Braintree payment processor is paving the way for contextual commerce with new features that allow you to integrate safely with partners like Apple Pay, Android Pay, Venmo, and more. For example, Braintree allows Facebook users to safely order an Uber ride directly from Facebook Messenger. Explore how their features can help you identify and develop new sales channels, deliver a seamless shopping experience for your customers, and keep all your payment processing secure and PCI-compliant.


In Conclusion

According to techcrunch, contextual commerce is the future of shopping. Keeping up with the ever-changing digital landscape is the only way retailers will survive and thrive. As shopping moves away from physical and digital shopping carts, customer expectations will evolve as well. Soon, a seamless and super-convenient purchasing experience won’t just be appreciated; it’ll be the norm. Start preparing now by finding ways to break down any barriers between curiosity and purchasing. We’re experiencing the dawn of a new age in commerce. Are you ready?

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