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Mobile Ecommerce Retail

In-app contextual commerce: Perfect storm for shopping wherever, whenever

By Cristina Constandache, chief revenue officer

April 14, 2016 | 5 min read

Retailers get ready and hold on tight. A dramatic confluence of developments is changing the world of mobile commerce and it's happening very, very fast –brought on by a convergence of technology, social media culture, and a mature payment and fulfillment infrastructure. Prepare for a world where mobile is the main channel for the consumer to discover, decide and act. Next generation apps with built-in contextual commerce functions will change how people find out about a new product and allow them to purchase the item immediately.

Believe the hype

One button buying is here. New in-app capabilities, such as Pinterest’s Buyable Pins, which allows users to make purchases directly within the app at the moment of discovery, will become more and more common. This makes it unnecessary to leave the app in order to log onto a retailer’s website and enter payment and delivery information. All that is done seamlessly behind the scenes using the app’s securely stored user profile information. Shopping will happen wherever and whenever the user wants and not just on vendor sites and shopping apps like Etsy, Geek or Amazon, but social media and instant messaging apps.

Facebook Messenger, Google's GChat and Apple's iMessage are all expanding app functionality beyond simply communicating. Want to order an Uber ride or book a plane ticket while still in the app? No problem. China's WeChat is well down the road to offering more than just text messaging, voice and video calling. Users can shop, play games, book tickets, and even send money to each other.

Social media culture shift

In-app contextual commerce would not exist without social media. Customers are now so adept at sharing, recommending and reviewing, they are quite comfortable trusting mobile as a channel for purchase suggestions. People love to share purchase stories because it often serves to validate their own choices. And customers are happy to rely on crowdsourcing from strangers as well as recommendations from friends in their social network to discover new products and services.

Contextual commerce through social media and messaging apps also taps into the social aspect of shopping. So when ad content arrives and is tailored specifically for them, they are less wary of the implied tracking behind the message. An elegant, well-timed and non-disruptive message based on API data tracking could be received like a friend suggesting a good book to read or a store you may not have known about otherwise. Tracking in that context will not raise red flags, but will simply aid the consumer’s journey. It's an argument that even the most fervent ad blocker may be open to. What if I'm missing out on something I might actually like?

Right message at the right time

How can retailers harness this coming explosion of contextual m-commerce? First they should realize that they are not flying blind. Agencies have access to transparent tracking and quality metrics that can be fed into an algorithm to predict consumer behavior. If you can identify the consumer’s intent in real-time, a retailer can send the right message at the right time. If that message also contains a contextual commerce element you reduce the time between engagement and purchase.

Publishers like Cheetah are in a better position to utilise data on the device level because of the wide array of apps on offer. Having more post-download data points can help narrow down ad inventory and timing. And instead of simply download an app or click on an ad, with the “buy-now button” we can now give the customer the opportunity to jump right to the final purchase. And with contextual commerce, we can also now offer ultimate KPI for retailers: cost-effective sales.

Only the beginning

In-app contextual commerce technology reduces the friction that causes cart abandonment along the funnel. But it also finally creates the context for agencies and publishers to begin a dialogue with retailers. We’ve been waiting for retailers to increase their spend on mobile for some time and now we can offer them a way to close the gap between engagement and sales conversion using a technology that can be tracked with full transparency. This is only the beginning. We can can now work with retailers on their terms, to manage, meet and exceed their expectations.

Cristina Constandache is VP of Business Partnerships, EMEA and Americas at Cheetah Ad Platform

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