Content + commerce is the future — are you ready?

Posted on October 9, 2018

E-commerce consumers want quality, convenience, and affordability. But there’s something else they crave, especially in this digital age, that can be difficult to accomplish and easy to overlook: connection.

Consumers want to be heard, to be a part of something, to care. It’s human nature.

That can be leveraged for success in e-commerce by allowing your consumers to become powerful influencers for your brand. They’ll do it for you if given the opportunity. It’s not an easy task, but there are impressive brands out there providing a clear example of how to get it done. Beauty brand Glossier, for example,  is in many ways the prototype for success in combining commerce and content.

It began in 2010 when Glossier founder and CEO Emily Weiss started Into the Gloss, a women’s beauty blog centered on being community driven by encouraging users to share tips and tricks. Eight years later Glossier, which describes itself as a people-powered beauty ecosystem, has an Instagram account with 1.5 million followers and recently received $52 million in venture capital.

Glossier’s rapid rise in the beauty industry has been a result of building and leveraging its relationship with consumers. It was the content that started the conservation and gave way to the opportunity for engagement. That engagement is what Weiss says many in the world of e-commerce are overlooking.

“You have [e-commerce] as this experience that’s all about the breadth of stuff, a breadth of product. What you don’t have is an e-commerce experience that’s focused on depth of connection.” — Glossier CEO Emily Weiss

Bucking the “breadth of stuff” trend for a “depth of connection” is the foundation making Glossier a game-changer in the beauty space.

Content = Communication = Connection = Loyalty

Glossier’s quality products and user-friendly platforms have helped. But it so often takes more than that to build consumer loyalty in e-commerce, which is where the connection to the consumer comes into the picture.

Into the Gloss has been creating content with the intention of fostering communication from the beginning. The communication created a connection that would become invaluable to the consumer and the brand.

For the consumer, there was that sense of connection we all desire. They cared about Into the Gloss, and ultimately Glossier as well because they had a place to share their voice and feel valued.

For the brand, listening allowed for knowledge to be gained on future product decisions. Into the Gloss gave consumers a chance to express their opinions, which Glossier seriously considered and applied in the decision-making process.

Glossier’s Milky Jelly Cleanser provides a perfect glimpse at how this is done. The face wash has become one of Glossier’s best-selling items. It was developed when Into the Gloss reached out to its audience and simply asked: “what’s your dream face wash?” The feedback combined with the opinion of Glossier’s experts produced a highly-successful product.

All of this cultivates loyalty that is a two-way street. Glossier proves it’s going to be loyal to the consumer by valuing opinions and creating quality products. The consumer returns the favor by not only returning as a purchaser but also promoting the brand among peers.

Rapid growth through peer-to-peer recommendations

The relationship between peer-to-peer interactions and potential success in e-commerce is staggering. The vast majority of people regularly read online reviews with 85 percent of them trusting those reviews as if they were receiving the information from a friend.

“If I’m going to buy a Vitamix on Amazon, I’m never going to read what Vitamix has to say about it,” Weiss says. “I’m going to go straight to the stars and the reviews. That’s really cool that commerce is being so democratized like that.”

Glossier has clearly leveraged this to its advantage. It’s content strategy not only developed a community that felt valued and gave valuable feedback, but it also resulted in connections among peers that increased brand recognition. In 2017, Weiss said 79 percent of Glossier’s growth was based on peer-to-peer recommendations. Growth through peer-to-peer connections is highly effective and extremely cost-efficient in comparison to the alternatives.

“We see every one of our customers as an influencer.” — Glossier CEO Emily Weiss

It’s all about people electing brands and products. Into the Gloss is an instigator of that behavior while Glossier is the brand that benefits.

How Engine is building CMS

At Engine, we believe content is a driver to sales and conversion. As we’ve outlined by examining what Glossier has done, the more shoppers consuming your content the more likely they are to buy.

Currently, we’re in the process of creating our own content management system (CMS) to build into content-driven stores. We’re doing so with the belief that the CMS should be tightly connected to your e-commerce store. Linking products back and forth from content to store must live and breath in CMS. We’re also prioritizing beautiful, engaging layouts through the CMS to enhance chances of conversion.

So why our own CMS instead of just using one that already exists, such as WordPress? Well, we do believe WordPress is useful because it is easy to use, extendable, and customizable. So, we’ve designed our CMS in a comparable way along those lines. But we also want to hone it in and provide some parameters that are specific and logical to what we’re doing.

For example, when prices change or things go on sale, our CMS will automatically update those changes in your content. You won’t be forced to have outdated, inaccurate information in your content nor must you go into each piece of content and update this information yourself. Your existing content can be aligned with your live sales instantly. We couldn’t provide such an advantage without creating our own CMS.

With the changing e-commerce landscape, brands are going to have to embrace the content + commerce strategy. Look no further than Glossier as your perfect example for why this works.