How Tech Innovators Are Enabling Contextual Commerce Experiences

Contextual Commerce

In the highly connected digital age, consumers are interacting with a multitude of social media sites as well as apps and connected devices. During this time, retailers and tech companies are bringing integrated shopping experiences into the sites and apps where consumers spend the most time. Retailers, then, can make the sale in the moment — with the help of contextual commerce.

Simply said, contextual commerce occurs when a consumer sees a product on a smart device or social media feed (and even a recommendation from a friend) and buys the product. About 60 percent of consumers today have engaged in contextual commerce, the latest PYMNTS Digital Consumer Report found, and most of them are said to be happy to have the experience again.

From digital marketplaces like SeatGeek to tech firms such as Google, innovators are introducing new ways for consumers to buy products and services through social media sites and smart devices. These are some of the ways that firms are tapping into contextual commerce features in the digital age of shopping: 

One billion devices are now supported by Google Assistant. Moreover, Google announced in mid-October that  Google Assistant developers could earn money by bringing their users premium experiences. In an October blog post, Google Group Product Manager Tarun Jain said, “While we’ve offered transactions for physical goods for some time, starting today, you will also be able to offer digital goods, including one-time purchases like upgrades — expansion packs or new levels, for example — and even recurring subscriptions directly within your Action.” Users, in turn, will be able to talk with the Actions through speakers, Smart Displays and phones.

Nearly six in 10 consumers — or 58 percent — are engaging in contextual commerce. And some social media platforms have rolled out payment functionality through pages of sites. In May, for instance, news surfaced that Instagram had quietly introduced a native payment feature. As a result, users could register a debit or credit card and make payments after they created a security PIN. At the time, it was reported that users could make payments to some businesses. But the company reportedly said that it would allow users to pay for items such as movie tickets in the future.

And more than eight in 10 customers — or 81 percent — engaged through contextual commerce do so through social media. In 2018, SeatGeek worked with Snapchat to let consumers buy live event tickets directly within the social media platform’s app. Athletes and performers could sell tickets directly to their fans through the platform through the integration. At the time, it was reported that Champion boxer Errol Spence Jr. posted tickets in his Snapchat Story for an upcoming bout. SeatGeek Director of Partnerships Lee Moulton said in a prior interview with PYMNTS that Snapchat “is the messaging platform and the social platform for the future sports-goers of the world.”

Nearly 60 percent of U.S. adults consume the majority of their movie and television content through streaming services. And eCommerce retailers are launching live content of their own. News recently surfaced that Amazon rolled out a brand-new video streaming service dubbed Amazon Live. The service taps into Amazon’s talent pool for live shows and brands through the Amazon Live Creator app. It was reported that shows work similar to QVC and hosts discuss as well as demonstrate products. Customers can also view product details and make purchases under the video. The offering comes roughly two years after the company ran a program called Style Code Live that focused on style and beauty tips.

One in 10 queries on Chinese search engine Baidu are made by voice, with half of them expected to be made via that method by 2020. As it stands, Baidu is homing in on autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence (AI). The internet company commands a strong presence in China, where it has 70 percent of internet searches. (The company’s Chinese search platform already ranks among the most trafficked websites in the world.) Baidu has reportedly inked partnerships with companies such as Microsoft, Intel, Ford, Daimler and BMW. The company is also looking beyond China for its AI and self-driving technologies.

From SeatGeek to Amazon, retail innovators are constantly testing out new hardware to simplify the shopping experience. In fact, the continued rise of contextual commerce is dependent on these firms as retailers and manufacturers integrate devices and experiences through the internet of things (IoT).