One of the greatest misses in omnichannel retailing today …


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If retailers want to engage, they need more than products, pics & price

Rich Content

Image Credit: Twobee

The operative word associated with customer experience in retail is “engagement”. Briefly defined, engagement means to get someone to “feel excited or impressed to do something”. Retailers’ goals are to excite and impress us enough that we will purchase something. Yet, what do we typically experience on a retail website? Most retail sites consist of a search bar for a digital catalog filled with static photos of endless arrays of products. Ecommerce tests have shown that “rich content” engages and motivates consumers. But, what exactly is rich content? Would you recognize rich content if you experienced it? And, if it is so good, why aren’t more retailers and marketers using it?

Why this is important: Rich content goes beyond the “product”. It has the capacity to powerfully engage consumers at a personal level, showing us why products are useful, and how they fit our lifestyle. Best part, it can be tested and measured!

“Rich Content” is not a new concept for online retailing

As online ecommerce started to dramatically grow, many started to talk about how to make the online experience more compelling. Entrepreneur published an interesting article back in 2006 titled: Creating a Content Rich Website. Their six tips for creating a compelling site your customers will buy from included the following advice:

Content-rich sites give readers what they need and more. Why present merely a picture of a product and a simple description when you can … [show them how they can benefit from using the product and purchasing it from you].

Sounds like the blueprint for Amazon’s success! And, rich content has in fact become one of Amazon’s prime differentiators. Amazon has been brilliant at A/B testing to validate what content engages customers. If you look at the evolution of their marketing, you will see more and more rich content, such as use case videos, and rich consumer Q&A. For some of the very best examples of Amazon using rich content, do a quick search on Amazon’s own products such as Amazon Echo and Prime.

So what’s the big deal? … Make the time to watch this video clip!

There is rich content … and then there is RICH CONTENT! As a consumer, you know when you have been “engaged” at a whole new level. Take a few minutes out of your busy schedule to watch the following video. I dare you not to be “engaged”! 

From this rich content could you explain why Chatbooks are a solution for a hectic life?

This particular Chatbooks video is one of the best examples of rich content I’ve seen in a long time. There are many attributes that make it compelling, even if you are not a harried mom:

  • It is hilariously funny with everyday life examples that fit parents, or even singles
  • The vignettes demonstrate the “why” you need this product in your busy life
  • The video shows you the “how” easy it is to use this product
  • The video is very memorable, along with clear examples of the benefits

The video is so disarming that you have to share it with others!

The best rich content engages you at a personal level in ways that you remember. And, if it is really good, you share it with others. I have two daughters who are busy moms who shared this video with me. But, the interesting thing is that I was so compelled by the rich content, I have now shared this video with thousands! And, I’m now motivated to purchase Chatbooks as a holiday gift for those who are impossible to buy for.

Rich Content is not just for websites – It can engage us anywhere

Online marketers are constantly looking for ways to differentiate themselves by producing higher quality content. Rich media provides this opportunity by offering much more dynamic elements and a ‘richer’ user experience. By definition, rich media is any form of content that deviates from normal text and static images and engages with the end user. (Entrepreneur)

So by this definition, rich content can most definitely apply to stores as well. In fact, stores should be a multimedia, rich content extravaganza, with staff providing an experience that is not possible online. However, for store staff to be compelling as “rich media” for customers is based upon three fundamental assumptions:

  1. There are in fact staff available to interact with customers
  2. They are trained and knowledgeable beyond the basic features a consumer can readily read online
  3. The staff have the skills to personalize the experience and demonstrate benefits to fit the customer’s lifestyle

In these times of lean staffing to reduce operating costs, bricks and mortar stores maybe seriously jeopardizing one of the most powerful rich content differentiators they have.

A huge missed opportunity – Rich Content as a seamless experience

The mobile phone is the portal for today’s omnichannel consumer. It is now estimated that 65% of all purchases are influenced by what consumers viewed via their smartphone. “Showrooming” has become so accepted, most don’t even talk about consumers using their phone in the aisle to research products, prices and alternatives.

So, why don’t stores leverage rich content through consumers’ smartphones?

Consumers always have questions about colors, styles and options. Why not make it easy to scan a bar code or QR code so that consumers can readily find what their options are online, or in the retailer’s store on their way home? Rich content is not just about product information, it includes everything about making shopping easier, anytime and everywhere.

Why not link rich content online to products in store via smartphones?

Increasingly, there are more and more compelling rich content experiences online at retailer websites. And if not on the retailer’s website, they can probably be found on the #1 rich content channel in the world – YouTube. Stores can easily create signage and tags with smartphone links to the best rich content online. So, if you could get answers to the “why” and “how” questions on your phone in the aisle, would you be more likely to purchase?

The bottom line: You don’t have to guess, you can test

The skeptics reply that it’s too complicated. Or, that it is too expensive to invest in digital content … or that consumers will not use it … or, the list goes on. The bottom line is that it’s easy and quick to use A/B testing online to validate whether a particular piece of rich content leads to views, dwell time, and ultimately to more sales. Beyond ecommerce, retailers are simply missing the huge opportunities to applying testing of rich content in a variety of ways within digital store merchandising and marketing. Case in point: smarthome products are not selling well in retail store. Other than the product packaging and static displays, where do can you find rich content in store showing how to use the product?

If there was a Chatbooks style video for smarthome products available via your phone, how many customers would purchase a smarthome starter kit? You know, retailers can and should be able to measure that!

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  • Entrepreneur: Creating a Content-Rich Website, Kim T. Gordon; June 5, 2006
  • Entrepreneur: Why Marketers Should Care About Rich-Media Content, Derek Miller; April 30, 2014
  • YouTube: Chatbooks
  • Rich Content Image: Twobee;

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Chris Petersen, Ph.D.
Chris H. Petersen, PhD, CEO of Integrated Marketing Solutions is a strategic consultant who specializes in retail, leadership, marketing, and measurement. He has built a legacy through working with Fortune 500 companies to achieve measurable results in improving their performance and partnerships. Chris is the founder of IMS Retail University, a series of strategic workshops focusing on the critical elements of competing profitably in the increasingly complex retail marketplace.


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