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28 January 2021 Luke Goldsworthy

Interactive eCommerce

Interactive eCommerce integrates elements of community, recommendations, and entertainment in the shopping experience, seeking to bring the pleasurable experience of shopping in the physical world into the online – and ultimately providing better value-for-money to the customer. 

Many online stores are little more than digital catalogues, albeit with advanced features. In contrast, the emerging trend of interactive eCommerce – seen particularly in China with companies such as Pinduoduo – seeks to create an experience closer to traditional shopping, reflecting its recreational and emotional roles.

Pinduoduo pitches itself as an interactive and fun virtual bazaar, recognising that shopping is often about far more than commercial transactions. It shies away from assumptions that shopping is merely a task to be checked off a to-do list.

Tupperware with its parties embraced the importance of community as core to its business strategy. Shops on high streets such as Rodeo Drive know the experience is about much more than buying luxury items, but also about being in an environment of sophistication and prestige. Similarly, shopping centres are places to pass time as often as they are places to make purchases.

Interactive eCommerce seeks to build a bridge between these traditional experiences and what is commonly offered online. It begins with interactions and connections between customers to drive the discovery of new, interesting and value-for-money products, rather than relying on conventional search. 

Online gaming, social media and entertainment platforms have led the way in humanising their interaction with their users, and their approaches are now being applied to shopping. At its core, interactive commerce is where community, recommendations, and entertainment overlap.

Community

Most eCommerce is often a solitary experience, with no interaction, sharing, streaming, or public disclosure. This is very different from traditional shopping with friends or a partner. On interactive eCommerce platforms, interaction is incentivised. Furthermore, users are encouraged to form groups to make purchasing decisions and to use their buying power to drive down prices.

Interactive eCommerce platforms provide a seamless experience across the native app and social media platforms, where users share the purchase decisions with their friends. The platforms also host live-streamed interactions with customers, product reviewers, and manufacturers.

Recommendations

In traditional eCommerce, recommendations are driven by online searches for specific products or services, with the key differentiators often being price or features. The user is intent driven. He or she wants to buy a camera, searches for cameras, and after some research selects the one that best suits their budget and needs.

Interactive eCommerce is curiosity and discovery driven, with users scrolling past an array of content and making decisions guided by emotion and impulse… just like walking down the aisles of a supermarket. This distinction leads to users being serendipitously exposed to products they would not have discovered on an intent-driven, search-based platform.

Entertainment

Entertainment is basically absent from traditional eCommerce. Maybe you’ll get an interesting product video, but that’s about it. Traditional eCommerce is about efficiency. Let’s get you to the product that’s best suited to you in the fewest clicks possible, and then guide you through the checkout process with an equal absence of fuss.

This is good practice, without question, but interactive eCommerce seeks to add entertainment to delight and engage users, encouraging daily usage habits. With constant new features and games, it provides a dynamic and lively user interface and builds a sense of achievement with customers. Entertainment is common in shopping centres or at weekend community markets but is rarely seen online. Interactive eCommerce seeks to address that.

While interactive eCommerce represents a shift in how platforms operate and therefore cannot be integrated into most existing platforms, lessons can be learnt from it to improve your traditional online store’s performance and potentially can become a supplementary sales channel. It’s core elements of community, recommendations, and entertainment can still be embraced by your website.

Here are just a few ideas on how you can make your online store more interactive:

Community

  • Reward customers leaving reviews
  • Allow customer profiles to link with other customers
  • Get customers to share their purchases online
  • Provide forums for customers to interact with each other

Recommendations

  • Display most recently purchased items
  • Display trending items
  • Post recent positive reviews

Entertainment

  • Gamification
  • Live streaming
  • Flash sales
  • Holiday shopping galas
  • Events

What interactive eCommerce has proven is that customers want more from what they are currently experiencing online. To consider ways to apply some of the elements of interactive eCommerce to your existing online store, click the button below to discuss this or any other eCommerce questions that you may have with one of the Playhouse experts.

With decades of experience and as a certified Magento partner, The Playhouse Group can help your business maximise its online sales capabilities. Get in touch with our team and we can talk to you about this or any other eCommerce questions you may have.