E‑commerce analysts and web content managers would do well to note an emerging trend which is attracting the interest of investors, big time: commerce and content are no longer ships that sail indifferently past each other in the night but an audience-building, revenue boosting double act.
That’s the lesson of hugely successful startups like One Kings Lane, Fab.com, Bourbon & Boots and Refinery 29, the latter being one of the first ecommerce ventures to practice content commerce from its launch in 2004 onwards. These firms are blogging about how to get the best out of their products, profiling designers, and generally providing their e‑commerce sites with a distinctly more editorial slant.
A lesson for ecommerce analysts: killer content draws big investment
The investment these rising stars have attracted speaks volumes. One Kings Lane, which offers huge discounts off the retail price of home décor, has raised more than $113 million since its launch in 2009, while its younger cousin Fab.com (which was founded in New York in 2010) has raised the princely sum of $171 million – and $120 million of that came in 2012 alone. Bourbon & Boots, which sells curated, southern-tinged art, music, clothing, home décor and food and drink, has raised seed funding of $250,000 since launching in 2011.
These are the kind of sums to make e‑commerce managers and e‑commerce analysts sit up and listen. These firms are all sporting impressive revenues and, without doubt, their creative use of content has played a pivotal role in their success stories. Social networks like Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook have revolutionized content creation and even though these new generation ecommerce firms do have a focus on selling online, they’re increasing embracing content as a very effective way to build audiences.
Content engages underserved communities
What they’re discovering is that striking content helps them reach underserved but very passionate niche communities, and it seems to keep them considerably more engaged than search advertising could ever hope to do. And there’s no doubt that the content commerce market is surging.
As Bourbon & Boots co-founder Matt Price put it:
“There are a lot of things that have happened over the past 2–3 years that have led in this direction. It’s the result of the rethinking of retail and the rethinking of content at the same time.”