The big challenge in this area is adding ‘shopability’ to content, rather than distracting potential customers from the buying process.

Many of the people interviewed for the report spoke of the tension between content and pure commerce, which impacts decisions on where editorial content should appear in the purchase journey.

There are obviously resource implications as well. An effective content strategy requires editorial, commercial and development teams to be working together from the same marketing plan.

Only then can ecommerce sites build the necessary infrastructure to support a stable and scalable platform, where content helps improve the conversion rate rather than becoming a burden and slowing down the site speed.

Content or commerce?

Striking the balance between content and commerce is difficult and is impacted by each site’s specific needs and goals.

A straw poll of respondents found that video was seen to be the most important content format for commerce, followed by a blog and editorial.

This comes as no great surprise because product demo videos are proven to have a huge impact on conversions. For instance, Zappos found that sales increased by between 6% and 30% for items that included product demos.

UK shoe retailer Schuh concentrates on informative videos on the product details page, also featuring the content on its YouTube brand channel.

Many of the videos are presented by employees, getting across the people behind the brand and creating a connection with the customer. 

Video content can be particularly effective if you’re selling complex or technical equipment.

Ski retailer Simply Piste created product demos for its helmets and goggles to give customers a better idea of the dimensions, fit and durability.

It found that conversions increased by 25% on pages that included product demos.

Simply Piste also created an advice video that appeared at the top of the ski goggles category page.

It tells the customer why they need goggles, how to wear them and which style they should choose based on their face shape and preferences.

As a result of the information the company has seen a reduction in phone calls about the products, and returns have dropped by a third.

Download ‘Where Content and Commerce Collide‘ for further discussion on how different content formats can improve the customer experience and boost conversions.

The new report, sponsored by EPiServer also includes sections on ownership of content marketing, key drivers for investment, KPIs and ROI.