How contextual commerce is changing shopping

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

What is contextual commerce?

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.

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.

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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.

Contextual commerce: 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 are using contextual commerce daily

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

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