Last week at Shoptalk, Under Armour's VP of Omnichannel Digital, Sid Jatia, was on a panel with HSN's EVP of Marketing & Digital Commerce, Ryan Ross, Joyus' President, Joe Megibow and Mondelez International's Global eCommerce Director, Neil Ackerman. They were speaking on the topic of distributed commerce and why they believe this is the path to growth in 2016 and beyond.
Distributed commerce is the idea that you no longer have to map a customer's journey to traditional commerce channels, but rather can allow them to buy from you on their terms. This covers everything from buy buttons on Pinterest and Instagram to incorporating intelligent shopping recommendations into the Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
"Distributed commerce is really about desire," said Sid Jatia. "How do you cultivate desire and engage in a way that culminates into a transaction? If you're out on a jog you don't want advertising messages interrupting you and telling you to buy new shoes. That's why context is so important. Commerce opportunities available in our current Under Armour Connected Fitness mobile apps aspire to be in the right context and will continue to evolve."
This is the core idea behind distributed commerce; that you no longer have to stop what you're doing and go somewhere else to make a purchase. Instead, you can simply click a "buy" button and shop within the platform where you want to spend time, be that Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, or other digital platforms.
"There is a lot of demand from the marketplace to create new monetization models," Mr. Jatia explained. "It's actually hard to get distributed commerce right. You need to invest in the infrastructure. The demand is high so the payoff will be significant to those who get it right."
Before someone can buy from you, however, they need to first be able to discover your products and your brand. This is where distributed content comes into play. "This is not about taking one piece of content and blasting it out to every social media channel," Mr. Jatia said. "Rather, it's about finding the right context. You need to invest in content and support your various channels."
Under Armour isn't just talking the talk here. They have invested heavily in both content and commerce. "You need to think through the whole customer experience; end to end," Mr. Jatia said. "Distributed content and commerce adds another level of complexity, but it's worth figuring out. Your company's brand strength will empower you to 'leave your store' and carry the brand with you."
The implication here being that the more powerful your brand is, the more likely your customers will be willing to engage with your content and wind up making purchase decisions right from their social media platform of choice.
The ROI of Distributed Content & Commerce
While it's too soon to talk about the direct attribution model of distributed content and commerce, Under Armour has posted double-digit sales growth for 27 straight quarters and for 2016 it is forecasting sales growth of more than 25%. While there are many factors that are contributing to these impressive growth numbers, Mr. Jatia believes its investment in technology infrastructure and content are certainly part of this growth story.
Organizational Impact & Support
"You need champions of distributed commerce," Mr. Jatia explained. "Beyond your internal team, you need partners who you trust and who understand all of this. There is an organizational impact of distributed commerce and you need to think through the entire customer journey. This is a massive component we'll all be dealing with in the next 3 to 5 years, so you need to ensure you have the proper support both inside and outside your organization."
The takeaway here is that distributed content and commerce is disrupting the traditional channel-obsessed methodology of growth. As new and innovative distributed content drives entirely new distributed commerce channels, there are tremendous growth opportunities for innovative companies who are paying attention to these changes in the marketplace. Sid Jatia sees these changes and is both a vocal supporter and champion of this new way to engage with its customers. With double-digit sales growth for 27 straight quarters, there is a lot we can learn from this industry juggernaut.
For more on this topic, be sure to check out Oreo's Secret Recipe for eCommerce.