Three steps brands can take to conquer the digital shift

Meta Canada's Leanne Gibson shares how to break through the clutter with Discovery Commerce

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By Leanne Gibson, head of industry  Meta Canada

More than a year into the pandemic, Canadians have embraced online shopping, particularly as intermittent lockdowns and social distancing measures create uncertainty around the ability to make purchases in person.

However, the reasons for this shift seem to increasingly go beyond mere necessity. Consumers find that it’s not just convenient to buy online but also fun, especially as they learn about products they never knew they wanted: 87% of shoppers in a recent online survey across the globe said that they discover new brands and products online; and 49% of surveyed online shoppers in Canada who discovered a new product saw the item while browsing online and wanted to buy it.

Fortunately, marketers have the technology and tools available to not just survive in the face of uncertainty but thrive in this digital transformation, which is continuing to shape customers’ preferences and expectations. The secret to getting this right in our new normal is using the right technologies and strategies to drive brand-customer connections through Discovery Commerce.

From “going shopping” to “always shopping”

As people become more comfortable shopping online, the way they approach shopping is changing. Online, shoppers’ behaviours have expanded beyond “going shopping” to tick purchases off a list, to “always shopping,” where they view online shopping as a delightful, curated experience that happens while going about other activities.

Appointment commerce, a traditional view of eCommerce where shoppers go to a search engine or web site with a particular need in mind, meets the needs of the first mindset. Discovery Commerce meets the needs of those in the second camp — one where, instead of having to search for a product, that product finds you.

It’s like bringing the serendipitous experience of in-person window shopping (where you discover an item you love but never expected to find), online. For example, I recently discovered a summer dress when browsing one of my favourite wellness brands on Instagram. I hadn’t previously considered purchasing apparel from this brand, but it was a great find that I’m thrilled to wear.

GettyImages-1214723618In an increasingly crowded digital universe, Discovery Commerce is quickly becoming a key approach for reaching audiences. However, meeting customers with the right offer at the right time, even before they realize they need or want a certain product, requires new strategies. To spark discovery, marketers should keep in mind the following core principles:

  • Relevance – In Discovery Commerce, captivating a customer requires delivering products and content that are a match for their interests and desires, known and unknown. Getting this right requires thinking beyond traditional demographic and audience segmentation approaches. Successful marketers leverage machine learning technology and data-driven creative testing to read and respond to subtle feedback from customers and provide value at the right moments.
  • Endorsement – Spark serendipitous delight in your customers and enable them to share their experiences with others, and you’ll see powerful marketing momentum. Consumer reviews were cited as the biggest purchase influencer for 43% of Canadian online shoppers surveyed. Create widespread endorsement opportunities by providing product reviews and partnering with influencers and creators on social media to talk about your products and to drive consumer interest in your brand.
  • Ease – Over a year of ‘Buy Online, Pick Up in Store’, curbside and other seamless omnichannel experiences has trained people to expect online purchases to happen quickly and easily. Assess your customer’s experience from discovery to conversion and meet their needs at each step. Make sure that your ads inspire consumers to engage, and your landing page provides key information to determine if the product is right for them. Finally, once they’re ready to convert, they need a seamless experience to complete the purchase, no matter what device they’re using or their preferences for how to get your product in their hands.

Even without a global pandemic, marketers would be adapting to an increasingly active and competitive digital realm in 2021. The pandemic made embracing technologies and strategies that make a brand easily discoverable even more essential.

By ensuring that you remain relevant to customers’ evolving interests and provide easy digital pathways for them to discover, explore, purchase and talk about your brand and products, you can leverage the enormous opportunity of a historic eCommerce shift that’s here to stay.

Leanne Gibson is head of industry at Meta Canada. To learn more, visit the Discovery Commerce Hub.


1 “Discovery-Led Shopping Study” by GFK (Facebook-commissioned online survey of 1,112 people ages 18+ in Canada, Q3 2020). Qualifying respondents made an online purchase of beauty, furniture, electronics and/or apparel in the past three months at the time of the study.