When you think back to its roots, you’ll find that commerce used to be an intimate and shared experience, where people traded, negotiated, and conversed.
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Look a litter deeper and something more exciting arises – culture.
From Phoenician ports to silk roads – the exchange of goods & services where seldom without stories and adventures.
In truth, commerce rarely existed in the absence of culture.
But what’s more important than knowing of the intersection between commerce and culture, is knowing the ‘why’ behind it.
Because since the birth of commerce, people looked to buying more than what they were paying for.
They looked to buy a dream or a solution, an ideology or an association.
Its fair to say, we’ve always wanted a bigger bang for our buck.
Now flash forward to today.
While online shopping has become convenient, quick and fast – one could argue that the the experience has become lonely. And while transactions are scalable, they are no longer personable.
In a cookie-less, Web 3.0 trust deficit world, commerce will need to re-route and re-focus on bridging this gap with the building blocks of commerce: interactions.
A Brave New World
We are embarking upon a new era of marketing, with a paradigm shift that has changed the way brands and consumers connect. The days of brands interrupting a user’s content experience with irrelevant messaging are almost behind us – consumers now need an experience that is interactional and collaborative, something that they can really take part in.
The shopping experience is truly being reimagined, evolving from buying and selling goods between businesses and consumers, into an exchange of knowledge, advice, and support. This encourages collaboration amongst communities for more authentic shopping experiences, subsequently resulting in higher rates of customer delight, which encourages users to joyfully share their discoveries and perpetuate word of mouth.
Liberated from the shackles of traditional sales pitches, commerce is now gaining ground as an experience that entertains, enables and connects, and allows for product discovery at rapid speed.
So how can businesses overcome competition, increase customer lifetime value, boost conversion rates, and attract out-of-market buyers in the long term?
Whether acquisition or retention is the objective, the buying experience should be built on expertise, dialogue and participation, powered by communities and Creators. This can be summed up in the phrase ‘Community Commerce’ – a fresh user-driven marketing model that is taking hold, combining the reach of digital platforms with the intimacy of traditional commerce.
Under this model, the community is no longer a commodity for brands to benefit from, but the actual drivers of commerce. And in order to adapt to this shift, it is crucial for brands to understand the evolution in consumer shopping behaviors that is taking place on digital platforms.
From demographics to communities
In order to truly resonate with users, brands need to think beyond ticking boxes and surface-level demographics. Today’s audience is less interested in being categorized by basic demographics like age, gender, location, or even shared languages.
And, as people slowly move away from third-party identifiers, understanding a user through their interests and communities will be more important than ever.
From mass to expertise
By expertise, we refer to knowledge, ability, interest, passion, skill, competence, and know-how. And expertise creates real influence in interest-based communities.
In order for a brand to showcase their value proposition and firmly establish what differentiates them from the competition, they need to create original and niche content based on users’ interests.
From persuasion to participation
While transactional experiences rely on persuasion, interactional experiences facilitate participation. Today’s shoppers don’t want to feel like they are being sold a product; they want to create with brands just as much as they want to create with each other. Therefore, instead of pumping out disruptive ads, brands should take the time to craft content that seamlessly blends into users’ edutainment time.
Such content encourages users to lean in and participate. Within communities, remixing and building on each other’s ideas is how products trend, brands get spotlighted and word of mouth takes off at scale.
Back to the basics
Shaped by the size of the community, the bare necessities of goods, and the direct nature of the real-life marketplace, retail and commerce were limited, intimate experiences. They allowed people to converse and create a support system built on trust. And today, commerce is going back to those interactional roots in order to create fulfilling, collaborative shopping experiences powered by communities, creators and brands – bringing back what we missed the most from the experience; human connections.