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Will Amazon Make Streaming Shoppable?







The Netflix series “Emily in Paris,” which debuted in May of 2021, didn’t exactly start off on the right foot. Panned by critics and viewers, its Rotten Tomatoes average audience score of 47 seemed to reflect the social media banter over the “infuriating” naivete of the main character and uninspiring plot.

Nevertheless, the show was nominated for two Emmys and two Golden Globe awards. Netflix picked it up for a second season. Apparently, “Emily in Paris” is that show 58 million U.S. households love to hate — they faithfully tune in every week to gossip about how much more annoying this American [Millennial] in Paris has become.

Something that apparently isn’t grating on the show’s viewers, however, is Emily’s wardrobe.

Many viewers obsess over what she and her friends wear. And anyone who wants to channel a little Emily-living-in-Paris-wearing-French-girl-clothes can visit wornontv.com and buy what they see in any given episode. This on-trend Blu Caban Jacket Roberta by Rianna + Nina, as worn by Emily in the French Revolution episode, can be had for €1,960 right here.  One can also buy the rest of the ensemble — her handbag and shoes — from retailers listed on that same page.

Viewers have to be pretty committed to do that, though.

A would-be shopper has to remember what Emily and/or her costars wore, then go to a separate site to discover whether that item can be purchased — assuming she knows there even is a site. Once there, she has to click on the page with all of the “Emily in Paris” wardrobe stuff, then scroll to find what caught her eye. If she is successful, it’s another click to the merchant page to buy the item, provided it’s available in the size needed.

Talk about friction.

In an eCommerce world that’s all about conversion, the steppingstones of multiple sites and clicks mean plenty of opportunity for cart abandonment — if consumers even get that far.

See also: Getting Clever About Fighting Cart Abandonment

One might argue that it’s all incremental anyway — the show is about the show, not the merch that can be sold as a result of the show. The flip side of that argument: why can’t it be about both? FinTechs are orchestrating new payments and commerce opportunities that allow brands to be present in the digital channels where consumers are already spending time — and where they may be open to spending money as well, provided they don’t have to stop what they’re doing or go to another site.

It’s certainly a possibility made more real when a streaming platform with all of those eyeballs and viewer engagement happens to be connected to a commerce engine with all of those SKUs and a one-click-to-buy experience.

It might even be part of the longer-term strategy behind Amazon’s $8.5 billion purchase of MGM studios.

Read more: Amazon Closes $6.5B MGM Acquisition

Amazon called “time’s up” on the FTC last week (which had dithered past the normal deadline for saying yay or nay) and moved full steam ahead with the $8.5 billion acquisition of MGM studios. MGM has a vast content catalog that includes the James Bond film franchise and classic movies such as “Silence of the Lambs,” “Gone with the Wind,” and the “Wizard of Oz.”

The original decision to acquire MGM was made while Jeff Bezos was still CEO. Then, he described it as giving Amazon ownership of content IP that’s ready for its 21st century makeover. By that, he meant new TV shows, series and other content spinoffs.

Without question, further monetizing that IP by connecting streaming content to its massive commerce engine and 174 million payments-enabled Prime Video subscribers is the topic of some Amazonian’s 6-Pager somewhere. (If not, use this piece — it’s under the Bezos page limit.) The famous “why” of that memo seems straightforward — a new commerce flywheel that gives consumers and brands novel ways to discover products and buy them.

Positioned right where they have the undivided attention of that consumer.

Just think of all those martini shakers, tuxedos, Omega watches and Aston Martin sales waiting to be made.

Embedded commerce

Embedding commerce inside of streaming platforms is one of the greatest untapped opportunities inherent in the digital transformation of the global economy. It’s also one of the six trendlines that we observed from the first-of-its-kind benchmark study measuring the pace of the world’s digital transformation that PYMNTS will release on March 31.

Nearly everyone everywhere in the world streams video and music. Access to smartphones and fast mobile bandwidth, even in developing economies, has democratized access to the content that streaming platforms offer.

Related: Seamless UX, Payments Sets Streaming Services Apart in Hot Latam Market

After examining the behaviors of more than 15,000 consumers in 11 countries that represent 50% of the global GDP, we find that streaming video and music is the most popular activity of the 40 we tracked across the ten pillars of the connected economy across all of the countries in our study. In the U.S. alone, Nielson reported that more than 180 billion minutes of streaming content, on average, were viewed each week in January of 2022. Streaming platforms like Netflix, YouTube and Prime Video captured 6.6%, 5.7% and 2.4% of those streaming eyeballs respectively.

Streaming is also a high-engagement activity for which there is currently low commerce penetration, outside of subscription fees, but a huge potential for expanding the GDP of the world’s digital transformation. Making the brands inside of the shows on those platforms shoppable — in the moment — creates new revenue streams for streaming platforms, show stars and brands that want those impulse buys.

There’s some precedence for this theory.

Spotify opened its platform in 2020 to merchandise so that artists could monetize sales of tee shirts and other branded swag alongside their music. A study of artist sales shows that, on average, artists make 16 times more income selling merchandise in a year than they do on the royalties from their music. Consumers who come for the music seem to stay for the merch.

Amazon, of course, can turn on that commerce tap at scale — and shape the design of the business models for monetizing streaming services. Instead of reducing monthly subscription fees by forcing consumers to watch ads, like Disney+ is testing, embedding commerce inside of its programing can drive the sales that can subsidize those monthly fees.

See also: Disney+ Adding Ad-Supported Subscription Later This Year

Brands that never considered selling on Amazon’s website might find its streaming content a place where they can allow consumers to buy in context, especially in clothing and apparel categories where PYMNTS research finds that Amazon maintains a 47% share of online sales. Imagine the reCommerce sales for the vintage and antique shops that supply the clothes and accessories for the show. Or tickets to visit the cities in which the shows take place. Or, or, or. Registered payments credentials and shipping options, including BNPL, make it one-click easy for consumers and brands to shop in a new digital experience.

Entirely new shopping opportunities could be established, all built around the core proposition of shopping while watching movies or TV shows.

After all, actors and musicians are the ultimate influencers, said to increase sales by 4% on average, according to a study done by Barclays Capital and Harvard Business School professor Anita Elberse.

I can’t wait for the next Sotheby’s auction of an Aston Martin DB5 to be promoted in the James Bond spinoff featuring him behind the wheel.

Apologies for the obvious James Bond obsession.

Paying attention and making attention pay

Buying things from a video is not new. YouTube announced a new program to make its videos shoppable last summer that leverages Google’s commerce platform and GPay. Before that, it was possible to watch a video and punch out to make a purchase.

Social media channels like TikTok are integrating commerce into their video formats. So is Meta. Livestreaming, another form of shoppable videos and a throwback to the days of the Home Shopping Network on TV, are emerging as eComm’s next big thing. eMarketer estimates that livestreamed shopping in China will be a $623 billion business by 2023, accounting for roughly 20% of retail eCommerce sales there. In the U.S., livestreaming is still very much in its infancy — analysts project roughly $35 billion in sales in 2024, after roughly $11 billion in 2021. Not surprisingly, apparel and beauty products are expected to lead the way.

But these formats are different than what Spotify offers now and what Amazon could in the future.

The average consumer attention span on video formats inside of social media platforms is a whole 1.7 seconds, according to Facebook in a post that seems to almost apologizing for that statistic. Overall, it’s been said, the attention span of consumers online isn’t much better, at something like 8 seconds — a whole second less that than of a goldfish, for those keeping score.

Read more: What Online Commerce Can Learn From Goldfish

That’s because there’s so much competition for attention on those platforms — so many other distractions happening in and outside of them when looking at content, along with the multitasking that is a defacto part of the experience.

Think about yourself. When you’re checking out Insta or TikTok or a video on YouTube, you’re probably also talking to your kids, walking the dog, at your kid’s baseball or swimming practice, talking or messaging with a friend, commuting, or supposedly paying attention on a Zoom call where the cameras are off.

Consumers are in a different mindset when they sit down to watch a TV show or movie. They are literally tuned into the program with the intention to watch it from beginning to end. Without commercial breaks, the streaming platforms have the consumer’s undivided attention. And since the programming is on demand, consumers are also watching it when they have made the time to be present — to pay attention.

For a brand, the 58 million household eyeballs trained on a single episode of “Emily in Paris” are really different — and much more attractive — than the 5,000 or even 650,000 eyeballs sorta-kinda paying attention to a one-minute video that someone might like before moving to the next one 1.7 seconds later.

What’s next

Much of the conversation about the digital transformation of the global economy is about the activities that are already transactional in some sense, already tied to payments and to making a sale online. That’s where we have seen consumers and brands make the obvious digital shift because buying things had to move digitally during pandemic-related lockdowns, and some consumers were willing to stay there.

See also: Visa Sees the Cloud as Cornerstone of Retail’s Digital Transformation

The recently published 2022 PYMNTS Global Digital Shopping Index, a collaboration with Visa Cybersource, is a benchmarking of the digital transformation of shopping in six countries. The second annual study shows how much of an impact mobile and digital has had on consumer expectations of their shopping experience — and merchant investments to meet them in their digital-first mindset.

Read the report: 2022 Global Digital Shopping Index

Even more transformational is the opportunity to enable commerce inside of the environments where consumers already spend time and are fully engaged but not buying anything. In many ways, the digital transformation of the world’s economy will hinge on our ability to do that — and to simplify the process and payments efficiencies needed to deliver a seamless experience across the financial supply chain.

In the meantime, brands and platforms and payments players and technology enablers will continue to create new ways for commerce to come to the consumer — wherever and whenever she happens to be. They will also explore new acquisition strategies that could give them a competitive edge. Who knows — maybe Netflix will buy Shopify, or Walmart will buy Disney.

Never say never. Because in the immortal words of Vivian Leigh, as Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind,”After all, tomorrow is another day.”



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