Who needs storefronts and shopping carts when experiences themselves can be merchandised?

Welcome to the age of shoppable everything. Here, banner ads, lookbooks, videos, images are made shoppable, enabling brands and retailers to capitalize on precise moments of truth as consumers stumble upon shiny objects of inspiration.

Why usher consumers to the checkout line—and risk the abandonment of conviction, much less shopping carts—when you can get the deal done in that treasured moment of irrational awe?

The rationale here is similar to the much maligned car salespersons’ refrain: unless you drive off the lot with that creampuff today—or with the contract in hand, anyway—you’re probably gone for good.

Because, more often than not, inspiration, so potent in the moment, fades to a fleeting whim.

Commerce experiences are about monetizing these moments of heightened emotion—the moments before such emotion is damped by the eternal bummer of rational thought or the eternal blight of subsequent objects shiny and bright competing for the consumers’ attention.

What enables this is, in effect, “headless commerce,” where the digital commerce platform, once built around the storefront and shopping cart metaphor, is decomposed into a set of programmable interfaces that make shopping features embeddable into images, videos, banners and other digital experiences. It’s an idea that makes storefronts and shopping carts seem, to be kind, a bit quaint.

The idea behind digital commerce experiences is similar to the flip we’ve witnessed in physical retail where associates, armed with a mobile device, are unpenned from the checkout line, free to roam the showroom in search of consumers who, to paraphrase Neil Young, have that faraway look in their eyes.

That’s the look of inspiration, the look of greatest commercial conviction. It happens both online and off and brands and retailers are going to great lengths to compress the cycle between desire and action.

This idea becomes even more powerful when you consider the possibilities for monetizing social content. Here, the inspiration for a particular look isn’t sparked by some vacant-eyed model, but by friends and frenemies, alike. Or consider the role of shoppable media on what used to be an inherently passive medium, as retailers like H&M and others experiment with Smart TV to create shoppable ads on the first screen that’s a long way from the walnut-consoled Zenith in the rumpus room.

But perhaps the final and most fascinating frontier of the headless phenomenon is when these moments are predicted and transactions brokered on your behalf. The age of digital business ushers in an entire universe of connected experiences where the physical world, in the name of convenience, invokes digital offers, actions and experiences on your behalf.

While convenience it will surely bring, the motivation is nothing more than cha-ching. Commerce experiences becomes commerce everywhere.

Of course, commerce already figures prominently into all of our experiences, earthly and otherwise. But, despite its pervasive role, we’ve traditionally stood one cool step removed from the transaction.

Today, that headless merchant of commerce is standing by to intercept all of your moments of inspiration and need, whenever and wherever they strike.

1 Comment
  1. 27 March 2015 at 5:36 pm
    Jeff Nicholson,VP Marketing, Kitewheel says:

    The piece is spot on. And what strikes me is the pervasiveness of what is coming. Advances including stoppable ads (the content of which, of course, decisioned by a real-time digital marketing hub) place commerce everywhere, not just content, as it is today. As Jake writes, “commerce experiences becomes commerce everywhere,” as ultimately this is driven by consumer’s need for immediacy and instant gratification. In this sense, it’s interesting to consider that this will create the opportunity for impulse-buys, everywhere.

    “While convenience it will surely bring, the motivation is nothing more than cha-ching” … a phrase for the times, it also rhymes. 😉 Great post!

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