Kate Spade is one of the first brands to test the new shopping feature on Instagram.


E-commerce is everywhere now.

But as brands move beyond their apps and court customers on social media and the mobile web, there’s still plenty more for them to do to get ahead, according to a new study by L2.

The market research firm said contextual commerce — practice of giving shoppers the option to buy where they want — offers expanding opportunities to retailers as consumers pass by a multitude of apps in favor of the mobile web and social media.

L2 said that among Fashion Index brands, which includes 85 top brands in the U.S. market, adoption of e-commerce apps declined from 23 percent to 19 percent in the past year, with four fashion brands having deleted their apps. Meanwhile, consumers spend 84 percent of their smartphone time on five non-native apps. At the same time, social media apps are fulfilling diverse functions. The researchers recommended brands take advantage of that by facilitating shopping on apps such as Instagram and Facebook. They found that only 11 percent of brands offer e-commerce options on both, while 64 percent have added “Shop Now” or “Learn More” buttons to their Facebook pages.

The researchers recommended that brands follow that path further and, for example, adopt chatbots to help serve customers, Tommy Hilfiger and Burberry.

On Instagram, 14 percent of the brands studied had a “click-to-buy” e-commerce link in their description on the brand’s page. Researchers noted that this might change with Instagram’s recent pilot with brands such as Kate Spade and Coach that allows users to see product details and a direct link to make a purchase, in addition to the ability to click on links in Instagram Stories, which is only available to verified accounts.

On Snapchat, Lancôme, Target and Everlane have been some of the first brands to experiment with facilitating e-commerce. Target and Lancôme used ads that include a 10-second video and the call for viewers to “swipe up” to see more, which, in this case, was a mobile website where people can buy products they saw in the ad.

Social media, which has long held a special relationship with fashion week, also drives the appetite for instant fashion, with 24 percent of the top performing Facebook posts being fashion-show-related.

Technology also helped designers more closely bridge the digital with the physical. Rebecca Minkoff, for example, used an app called Zeekit to show how clothes would fit on a shopper’s body and used virtual reality to live-stream her fashion show.

As video is expected to account for 77 percent of U.S. mobile data traffic by 2020, researchers recommended that merchants take it even further beyond brand-building to a more direct commerce offering. Examples in the report include Kate Spade, which lists shopable items under a video, and Ted Baker, which makes a more interactive, commerce-centric video

Similarly, analysts reported that brands can take advantage of more commerce and interactivity through e-mail. John Varvatos, for example, integrated e-commerce directly into emails.

Going forward, L2 suggested that innovations such as virtual reality could ultimately offer more interactive shopping experiences.

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