How contextual commerce is changing shopping

What is contextual commerce, and why does it matter? We explore social buying, smart suggestions, and visual search.

Put simply, contextual commerce is buying, in context. It means making a purchase while you’re doing something else, like cooking, commuting, or hanging out on social media.


The proof is in the platform

The way people shop and purchase is now driven by or influenced by social sites and other platforms. You may go there for news, inspiration, or entertainment, but you stay to shop. Soon everyone — not just millennials — will catch on. The ubiquity of the mobile phone (and all wired devices) means you can buy anything, anytime, anywhere, with the click of a button. Already, according to 451 Research, 57% of 18-35 year olds say they use social media frequently to make purchases.

And all internet users, no matter what their age, increasingly view social networks as equally important as other information sources when it comes to making purchasing decisions.

Not to mention the fact that the devices enabling this new style of commerce are exploding. Smart speakers will soon outnumber tablets, according to a new forecast by tech market analysis firm Canalys. In fact, the number of installed speakers will grow by a staggering 82%, from 114 million in 2018 to 207.9 million in 2019.


Let's get visual (search)

Visual search, another tech twist that makes buying easier day to day, is also taking off. Ebay rolled out a visual search tool for its mobile app that not only lets users scroll through ebay images but also upload photos they’ve taken out and about in the real world. Google, Amazon, and Pinterest have all beefed up their visual search tools. And brick-and-mortar stores are catching on. Forever 21 reported a 20% increase in purchase price and increased conversions among online shoppers who used a new visual search tool to reduce the number of steps to checkout.

Buy on social platforms

The chatbot, once a novelty, is now the norm. Walmart is boosting the personalization factor in its baby registry with a chatbot, and Starbucks long ago rolled out the My Starbucks Barista chatbot. 451 Research found that people will increase their shopping frequency by 36% when they’re communicating with a chatbot, such as on Facebook Messenger.

And yet only 13% of stores are taking advantage of this by offering one.

People explore contextual commerce. Businesses are moving fast in the direction of contextual commerce. Is your company ready? 

Read more on contextual commerce from 451 Research





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