AR and social selling: The role content plays in commerce

 The line between content and commerce is getting more blurred than ever. Consumers nowadays expect not only personalised content, but also a seamless experience when they make purchase leading to the rise of social selling. In light of this, more fashion brands are using digital tools such as Augmented Reality (AR) to enhance consumer experience. In January, ASOS launched the trial of its "See My Fit" AR feature, where consumers can get a simulated view of a product in different sizes and on different body types. Meanwhile back in 2017, fashion brand Gap also unveiled a similiar app called DressingRoom, which allowed consumers to see how a particular product looks like on one of the body types in the app using AR. According to Statista, the market for AR technology is growing, with projections for 2023 valuing it at over US$18 billion. The number of mobile AR users globally is also said to reach 2.4 billion by 2023. 

The rise of AR is one of the digital trends ZALORA’s group director brand communications, Christopher Daguimol (pictured), observed in the industry. Speaking to Marketing, he referred to the growing trend as the “try before you buy” novelty that brands are increasingly trying to tap into. Daguimol added that today there are many ways to personalise an experience. For instance, brands can suggest products the user has previously visited, guide the user to products bought by other visitors with a similar profile, or display products like the one the customer is interested in. 

According to Daguimol, ZALORA has also recognised Instagram as a social platform with immense influence on consumers' shopping habits. As such, it has enhanced its blend of content and commerce on the platform, creating shoppable Instagram posts and shoppable swipe-ups to make the purchase process more convenient for its consumers. It also developed its influencer marketing strategy through its #ZCrew programme, where it collaborated with local influencers across Southeast Asia to create engaging content on Instagram. 

COVID-19: Using content to help communities

Amidst the COVID-19 global pandemic, ZALORA has adapted its content to help its consumers and businesses. The company created various content on its social channels (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) such as tips on how to work at home effectively, reminders to self-care, as well as highlighting the efforts of frontline workers during this period.

ZALORA has also launched a new "Essential Supplies" category on its platform which sells items such as masks, skincare and dental products. Daguimol, who will be speaking at Marketing Interactive's virtual Content 360 conference, said that this new category aims to help consumers gain access to essential supplies while staying at home. Using the platform, ZALORA also reached out to businesses whose offline stores have been affected due to the COVID-19 situation, offering to help them maintain a presence online. It is also working with partners to help with deliveries where it can. 

Besides using content to help communities, ZALORA collaborated with various non-profit organisations to host donation drives on its platform across different markets. To promote the donation drives, ZALORA placed banners on its website and app. The funds raised will go to providing personal protective equipment for medical front liners, as well as supporting negatively-impacted communities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. "Our teams are working hard to bring customers all that they expect from ZALORA and more – so they can keep on shopping without any worry. We also strive to continue spreading the joy and positivity fashion brings, to help keep our communities optimistic in this trying time," Daguimol said.

Standing out in the crowd

With the rise of eCommerce platforms in recent years, "standing out in the era of content marketing has been a big challenge for brands," according to Daguimol. ZALORA thus strives to stand out by making sure it has a point of differentiation and relevance in its campaigns.

“Shoppers nowadays are less loyal, have tons of options available for them, and are harder to impress and/or engage.”

Coupled with the diminishing attention span of consumers, Daguimol told Marketing Interactive that brands now, more than ever, need to provide consumers with great content that resonates. The content should also be something consumers are unable to get elsewhere. For ZALORA, that means being able to provide products that are exclusive to the region. "Being one of the first eCommerce platforms in the region, ZALORA has worked with multiple brands longer than other players. This position gets more brands to work with us, which in turn helps us offer more exclusive products," Daguimol said.

Differentiated content should also be coupled with a data-driven approach, Daguimol told Marketing Interactive. Having a data-driven approach can help brands to be on top of its consumers' trends and successfully anticipate the next ones. "Brands should be driving and acting on consumer insights and supplementing cultural understanding with data-backed consumer behaviour, in order to launch successful marketing campaigns that wow consumers," he said. Daguimol also credited ZALORA's edge in understanding its consumers to its early implementation of data-driven approach, enabling the company to have data about consumer behaviour and pattern since 2012. 

ZALORA also tries to stand out by being adventurous with its marketing strategies. According to Daguimol, it was the first brand to launch a click-and-mortar store back in 2014, which provided consumers with both options of purchasing online or offline at its physical stores. It also used Virtual Reality (VR) in its launch event of incorporating Topshop and Topman on ZALORA, and created the first shoppable runway in Singapore Fashion Week. When it comes to creating content, relevance is the primary consideration for ZALORA.

While freshness of an idea is always a good way to capture interest, the team would always try to take it up a notch by localising a campaign or an activation. Localisation helps to deepen ZALORA's relevance to its consumers and Daguimol emphasises that there is no blanket formula or solution that will work across different markets in Southeast Asia for the brand. “Each market is at a different stage of development and eCommerce adoption, with varied consumer preferences and spending habits. Culture also plays a big part on how consumers in each market perceive fashion,” he said, adding that this drives the need for localised engagement. To ensure that its content is localised, ZALORA's local teams on-ground help the core regional team to navigate the cultural nuances in individual markets. Diversity internally is also key for the team as the company ensures its staff come from varied background, age group, fashion profiles and cultural point of view. According to Daguimol, the team's diversity creates a fertile ground for cross collaboration and generation of new ideas.

Hear more from Daguimol at Marketing Interactive’s Content 360 virtual conference happening in June 2020. 

Marketing's Content 360 conference is going virtual, and will bring together industry leaders to discuss challenges and share insights on future content marketing trends, as well as successful strategies to help tackle the complex marketing landscape. Sign up here!

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