Apple Integrates Content and Commerce
by Ray Grady
Apple has traditionally been subject to what analysts refer to as the “Two-Site Syndrome” - a case where brand sites and online stores are separated through different platforms, creating a siloed effect that divides content and commerce responsibilities between different teams. When content and commerce are not unified, customer experiences are disjointed. Buyers must choose between learning about a brand and purchasing that brand. Apple, up until today, was guilty of just that experience. In order to make a purchase, an Apple customer had to leave the brand experience completely. Conversely, if a consumer went directly to the “shop” button, they missed out on the digital brand experience.
Today, Apple’s story has changed. When you visit the new Apple.com, you will find a unified customer experience, where content meets commerce. Customers who visit the site will no longer be presented with the disjointed experience of Apple’s old digital world. Rather than a divide between its online store and its brand experience, customers now have the option to explore and purchase Apple products all within one seamless experience, without ever having to leave the product page. Digital content and commerce operations are now integrated throughout all stages of the customer journey.
According to TechCrunch, an Apple spokesperson explained, “We redesigned Apple.com knowing that our customers want to explore, research and shop in one place. The new Apple.com takes the very best of our existing site and our online store to give customers one simple destination to learn and buy without navigating between two different sites."
So, what does this mean? Apple, one of the largest e-retailers in the world, is making a bold statement about the power of leading with content, and bridging the “content/commerce divide.” In today’s digital world, customers are demanding engaging digital experiences throughout the entirety of the buyer’s journey. If the opportunity for purchase is not present at any one stage, that purchase might not be made. And when a purchase isn’t made, retailers miss out on more than just a sale; they risk missing out on an opportunity to develop a relationship with that visitor, potentially converting them into a loyal customer and brand advocate.
Apple is just one of many retailers and brands who are choosing to bridge this content/commerce divide, and deliver the digital experiences customers today are demanding. Even so, it is somewhat surprising that such an innovative brand has taken so long to join the content/commerce movement. What is it that’s holding these retailers back? Many are simply afraid to take the leap, to stray from what has traditionally been done online. In some cases, it might involve a reorganization. Just last year, Apple brought on a new senior vice president of online retail and sales, Angela Ahrendts, to address this issue exactly. In her time with the company, it’s clear she has helped Apple take the necessary leap towards building a great digital experience.
There is no doubt that digital transformation is daunting task. But now more than ever, it is time to put the customer’s digital experience first, and integrate content with commerce. In a study on average stock performance, Forrester Research found that retailers lagging in customer experience had negative cumulative total returns of (33.9%). Customer experience leaders, on the other hand, generated returns of +43%. If retailers don’t make the digital experience leap, they simply will not meet customer expectations, and perhaps their bottom lines either. The time to integrate content and commerce is now. Take the leap.