Content + commerce = what exactly, for etailers?

Posted on November 6, 2011

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I have a dirty little secret. Well, sort of. In some idle moments I surf posh clothing sites.

You know the sort. I include in this Gilt Groupe‘s daily discounts (5PM UK time – ie the standard midday newsletter from New York – works well in my day), then there’s its sister site Park & Bond (am pretty sure they call it their ‘brother site’ – ugh), and making up my top three would be the UK’s Mr Porter, a spin-off from net-a-porter.com.

I always look at the menswear, rarely the women’s stuff, even when I should be buying that type of present.

The second part of my secret (it’s a secret in two parts, see) is that I can’t remember ever having bought something from them. I’ve come close eg for Gilt I’m lucky I have shipping addresses in the US I can use. But no, they probably hate me.

At this point, I can’t work out whether spending time in these places then never doing the deal is a good thing or bad thing. Whatever, that’s not my point here.

The wider point is that for certain types of etailers the marriage of product and content is a big thing right now.

Various industries have tried allying content with their core offering. Think about supermarkets, cable/satellite companies, mobile network operators and more. They’ve all invested millions in customer content over the years. Some have even had the balls to shutter a #1 UK mag by circulation.

But the examples listed above – with the exception of some niche luxury goods brands – are taking production values to another level. Stunning photography, wide ranges and content which, if you’re interested in that type of thing, is top-notch. And minus prices plastered all over.

Did I just mention the prices? This is important because while the ‘content’ side of this equation has won plaudits I can’t help think the ‘commerce’ side – and this is just a personal view – is taking the piss a bit.

Some of the Gilt deals are good (my ‘almost GO TO CHECKOUT’ moments) though many are pricey, as is the case at the other sites I’ve mentioned and more besides.

I could list some of the pricing but (a) the type of goods listed might not be of interest to you (many aren’t to me, I should add, before someone pictures me perusing a £400 silk scarf or one of those ridiculously long T-shirts), and (b) the specifics aren’t really the point.*

Bottom line: Marrying some great content with commerce is a good idea but I can’t see it being catnip to the extent that enough consumers will be OK with uber-expensive goods.

As for content + commerce in the B2B world…? It’s an even better proposition. But that’s a post for another day.

*OK, coming back to this and making an exception. See this recent ‘First Date’ special selection (a category rather far from my thoughts) from Park & Bond.

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