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What Is Contextual Commerce?

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Last editedJan 20232 min read

With contextual commerce, customers can shop at any moment of the day — no matter what they’re doing. For brands, this means more opportunity than ever to drive sales.

With businesses increasingly using multi-channel content as a strategy to attract customers, contextual commerce has become a high value tactic for optimising conversions.

In this post, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about contextual commerce with reference to contextual commerce examples, as well as a deep dive into the numerous benefits the trend offers brands.

What is contextual commerce? 

Simply put, contextual commerce is the practice of customers making purchases while engaged in other activities, such as cooking, riding the bus or browsing social media. In other words, it’s buying in a context.

Conceptually, this allows merchants to broaden their strategy for attracting customers beyond the four walls of a storefront, or the specific URL of their ecommerce store. Instead, they can pull in their target market in a variety of other contexts.

For many businesses, contextual commerce opens up huge opportunities, especially when it comes to customer-centric retailing. Indeed, if customers can shop from any location and while engaged in any task, the personalisation of their consumer experience can be maximised.

What are the benefits of contextual commerce for businesses?

When carried out in an optimal fashion, contextual commerce can dramatically enlarge a brand’s reach, as well as increase their brand awareness. Below are some of the key benefits of contextual commerce for retailers:

  • Purchase opportunities can be integrated into regular customer activities, leading to an increase in sales. For example, products can be available to buy via social media pages, such as Instagram or Pinterest, so that customers can easily purchase while browsing.

  • The strategic accessibility of brands and their products makes the overall shopping experience easier, more convenient and more personalised for customers. This can help improve customer loyalty and return sales. 

  • Integrating buying opportunities into a customer’s environment can be said to “lower the barrier to purchase”. Indeed, the sheer immediacy of the purchase and transaction makes for lower checkout abandonment rates.

  • Brands are more likely to land sales as the customer experience is highly personalised. This means that the products are therefore much more likely to match the individual taste, needs and desires of target consumers.

  • Customers are more likely to interact with a brand and become engaged with a product post when it appears on their preferred social media platform.

  • The ease of making a purchase in this fashion is arguably the biggest benefit. By eliminating some of the more time-consuming field filling required and instead offering quick mobile payments, customers can make their desired purchases almost instantly.

  • Interacting with customers in their organic environment will likely lead to higher conversion rates. This is largely because modern consumers quickly grow tired and weary of traditional ads and rarely pay them much attention. This is especially true online. However, with clever product integration, customers remain more engaged and are therefore more likely to make a purchase.

  • When done correctly, inserting your brand into the lifestyle of your target customers will help build loyalty and trust.

Contextual commerce examples

With the strategy rapidly on the rise, there are endless examples of contextual commerce. Below are some of the ways contextual commerce is seen today:

  • Making a restaurant reservation on a smart device while out running errands.

  • Purchasing clothes, accessories, furniture, etc., while looking through social media.

  • Using a mobile app to pre-pay for your coffee at your local coffeehouse before stopping by later to pick it up.

  • Opening your fridge to get a snack and hearing suggestions from your smart fridge about products you should restock. Bonus contextual commerce points if you then order these products using a voice assistant.

Indeed, any purchase or shopping completed while doing something else counts as contextual commerce. Now, with technology and an internet connection always to hand, opportunities for contextual commerce have become limitless.

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