Combining Content and Commerce for E-Commerce Success

October 17, 2023
4 min read

We joined forces with e-commerce podcast Your Basket Is Empty for their live episode on combining content and commerce. Content is a huge part of the customer journey, despite this, many brands aren’t utilizing content in their commerce strategy. 

Combining commerce and content opens up a whole host of opportunities to convert site visitors into long-term customers. Brands like Condé Nast, Mane Addicts, Wella OPI, and more have dipped into the world of combining commerce and content and come out on top.

In this live podcast, host Tim was joined by VP of Digital Product at Condé Nast, Mel McVeigh, and our very own David Greenaway, Head of Product and Projects at We Make Websites. We’ve distilled all of their expert answers from the pod into this quick-fire article. So grab your pen and paper, Mel and David are dishing up why content should be a key focus of commerce, how to adapt content for different audiences, and the technical setup behind a successful content and commerce blend.

Defining content 

In the context of commerce, content is always present. You can’t sell a product without a description or metadata. Even pricing information is, in itself, content. However, in this piece, we’re defining content as a narrative – the hook that compels a customer to make a purchase. This type of content can be found in blog posts, storytelling across the site, rich media, including imagery and videos, and content that bridges the gap between an e-commerce store and a brand’s social media. 

How does content play a role in commerce? 

Content drives conversion. While you may boast a flawlessly designed storefront and have all the right technology in place, customers need to understand why they should choose your brand and your product in order to make a purchase. And that’s where content comes in – it focuses on the why. 

Example of TOAST combining content and commerce with 'TOAST Live' video on the PLP with large product images

For example, a brand like TOAST applies content to their commerce successfully. Instead of a traditional grid of products, they use more rich media on their product landing page. Whether that’s large editorial imagery or videos, these content types are helping to tell the story of TOAST and their high-quality, luxury products before the user even gets to the PDP. 

Should content and commerce be considered separately? 

Content and Commerce isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario. It depends on your brand’s maturity. Content-led brands, like beauty blogs, might naturally incorporate commerce. 

Example of Mane Addicts combining Content and Commerce on their content-led website with a shop product feature

Mane Addicts is a content-heavy online community for hair and beauty, but have recently begun incorporating commerce with Shopify and Sanity CMS, and with success - within 24 hours of launching their new shopping component, Mane Addicts’ Ready or Not Detangling Brush sold out.

Alternatively, for some content-led brands, like a more news-heavy company, introducing commerce might not make sense – adverts will work better. In contrast, a commerce-led brand will benefit from considering content from the outset. The interplay between the two depends on your brand’s unique context. But if you are incorporating commerce or content into your brand, while the two may be considered separately to start, the distinction will blur as you evolve. 

Content should ultimately become a part of your commerce strategy, and commerce should be part of your content strategy.  

“If you think about a brand like Condé Nast Traveler, commerce is inherent in everything they write. So, whether we’re commissioning content, the destinations we cover, and the hotels we recommend, all of it ultimately leads to a purchase.” - Mel McVeigh, VP of Digital Product at Condé Nast.

Adapting content for different buying habits

You need to be where consumers are and where you think they will be. This means adapting content for your customers' different buying habits. Consider customers that prefer shopping on mobile apps vs desktop sites, and vice versa. For a makeup brand a long-form “how-to-apply” video might be effective on the Product Display Page for a desktop shopper. This content could be repurposed on mobile into a shorter video seamlessly embedded in an Instagram or TikTok ad campaign. 

Live Shopping is another avenue to connect with consumers using content. Once associated with traditional teleshopping, Live Shopping has undergone a transformation on platforms like TikTok, rejuvenating the concept for younger demographics – see our article on live shopping and other social commerce channels. Younger shoppers purchasing behavior is influenced by real-world use, so live content like this enables you to demonstrate how your products look and feel and are used to an audience of shoppers in the place they’re choosing to shop. 

Technical considerations for deploying content 

Although it may seem like combining content and commerce is as simple as adding blog posts to your e-commerce site or adding some new images, to get it right, you need to consider your technical setup – is your current e-commerce architecture able to handle large volumes of content? Or perhaps your content platform isn’t integrated with an e-commerce platform, so selling any products on your site will be incredibly difficult. 

Shopify vs. Headless

Out of the box, Shopify has an excellent blog function. Most brands can switch this on and start generating editorial articles without any need for custom intervention. However, for those seeking richer media experiences, it’s a good idea to bring an agency on board to build content layouts, multiple images, transitions, and shoppable components. Now, a blog post isn’t just a piece of written content – it’s a shoppable page that culminates a direct shopping experience, blurring the lines between storytelling and commerce. 

Of course, the alternative option is going headless (see our headless article for more information on headless commerce). However, if you are already using a SaaS-based CMS, like Sanity, that integrates seamlessly with an e-commerce platform, leveraging this integration may be more straightforward. 

Where headless helps is providing merchants with true flexibility. If you’re looking for total customization, headless is generally the best option. If you’re interested in incorporating lots of imagery, videos, and other rich media types, headless benefits also include faster site speeds and faster delivery of content. 

Neither one of these options is better or worse for combining content and commerce – they depend solely on your business goals and needs.  

Final words

If this article has piqued your interest on the topic of combining content and commerce, you can check out the full Your Basket Is Empty podcast episode here and on all your usual podcast streaming platforms. You can also reach out to our expert team for more advice on creating and building your exceptional e-commerce experience.


Subscribe to our newsletter

Be the first to hear about what’s hot in e-commerce and Shopify Plus. Straight to your inbox.