Content syndication has long proven to be an effective means for brands to appear (and appear in a brand-safe way) in multiple places at once across the web. Brand visibility, brand consistency, and content efficiency … the reasons for syndication add up fast. Familiar examples of both paid (think: Outbrain, Taboola) and organic (reposted blogs on LinkedIn, link aggregation sites like Reddit) web syndication abound – but in short, content syndication is any instance where a piece of content has been republished elsewhere on the internet.
Against the backdrop of a rising cost of customer acquisition and growing competition for eCommerce share of wallet, the ambition to serve the “right content in the right place at the right time” has only increased in importance for brands. And – with the continued growth in popularity of marketplaces creating even greater pressure on digital teams to produce more and more content – the pressure to make ever-more compelling content has only increased too.
To that end, we’re seeing brands increasingly lean into content syndication of another kind: UGC Syndication. Relieving the direct pressures of content creation while bringing the power of authentic visual content to life across their full web ecosystem; it’s a real win-win. (And we mean real.)
In this article, we consider the benefits of UGC Syndication for both brands and marketplaces – and look at how some of the world’s biggest retailers are already unlocking the potential of People Powered Commerce across their eCommerce properties.
Mind your Ps (but not queues)
For generations “the four Ps” has provided the essential framework – or agonisingly thorough list of potential headaches, depending on your perspective – for those about to go to market. Product, price, place, and promotion; a beloved quadriptych that’s been repeated so often that predictive typing engines will happily finish it off for you.
And while a whole industry has been born of quibbling over whether the “four Ps” are still demonstrably fit for purpose (they are); some clarifying notes for a marketing world transformed by eCommerce certainly can’t hurt. To that end, Publicis Sapient recently offered its own “four Ps” especially for eCommerce brands: Profitability, Productivity, Payment, and Personalisation.
Though less revolution than evolution – the logic of the OG-four Ps is neatly preserved by the authors of Publicis Sapient’s update, albeit scattered across their four pillars – Publicis Sapient’s “Four Pillars of eCommerce Profitability” do serve as a critical list of reminders to eCommerce retailers about the dynamism of selling, at scale, online. Foremost among the considerations is that a successful eCommerce strategy isn’t just a D2C strategy. Your strategy needs to consider the importance and role of “marketplaces”.
What are Marketplaces?
An eCommerce marketplace is an online platform where multiple businesses and individuals can sell their products or services. These platforms typically provide a variety of features such as user accounts, shopping carts, and payment processing, and allow buyers to browse and purchase products from multiple sellers in a single location. Examples of eCommerce marketplaces include Amazon, Etsy, and eBay – but also large online retailers and department stores such as Walmart in the USA, John Lewis & Partners in the U.K., Myer in Australia, Farfetch, Zalando and many more besides. According to Publicis Sapient:
“[eCommerce] marketplaces have more flexibility to offer a wide range of products with minimal inventory and warehouse costs. Retailers should view marketplaces as a way to enrich their product offerings and become a destination where people can find everything they need.”
And if all of this feels like commonsense, then that’s because marketplaces are already a fundamental part of the everyday experience of buying online: research from Oberlo published in 2021 showed that 48% of online shoppers go straight to a large ecommerce marketplace. Looking ahead, forecasts from Ascential indicate that the share of eCommerce dollars could rise to 59% by 2027 (Enterprise Times).
So whichever version of the Ps you’re working with, one thing is resoundingly clear: having a strategy for appearing on and optimising for marketplaces is an essential part of the mix for any eCommerce brand.
It’s here that the syndication of User-generated Content – authentic visual content that’s proven to supercharge the effectiveness of user journeys (read our case studies here) – reveals itself as an important avenue to in-marketplace optimisation.
What is UGC Syndication?
UGC Syndication describes the distribution of the User-generated Content collected by brands to third-party domains including retailers, resellers, and marketplaces. It’s a concept that can deliver commercial benefits for both brands and marketplaces alike.
For brands: by adding UGC to category and product display pages on third-party sites and apps, brands can scale the benefits of authentic social proof content – improved engagement, boosted conversion rate, increased AOV – while maximising the return on investment of their existing UGC strategy.
For marketplaces: offering brands active within your store the ability to add UGC to product and category pages – i.e. by reselling an enterprise-grade UGC solution – can create an entirely new revenue stream.
Let’s break it down with some real-life examples.
UGC Syndication for Brands
From whatever angle you look at it, the opportunity presented to eCommerce brands by marketplaces is sizeable. Research from Stich Labs (and shared here by Shopify) shows that brands who sell on even just a couple of online marketplaces can see a jump of 190% in revenue generated through eCommerce versus brands who sell in just one. For many brands, marketplaces are table stakes.
The ease and convenience of using a single account make marketplaces the default starting point for many consumers, while for brands the promise of benefitting from the marketing clout (think: “people also buy” style recommendation engines), SEO-friendliness, and global scale of marketplaces are all major deciding factors.
What’s most commonly lost in a marketplace environment, though, is a brand’s ability to control, to the minutest detail, the appearance of its products. A brand’s personality is hard to parse from a traditional eCommerce marketplace page. Finding ways to differentiate and optimise within such a restricted ecosystem is a daunting task.
Still, differentiate and optimise a brand must! As with a D2C website, it is incumbent on brands to capture and nurture the attention of shoppers on marketplaces too. And adding authentic, trusted UGC directly to PDPs represents a huge opportunity to do just that.
A listing on the Argos U.K. store (as well as on Samsung’s Amazon U.K. Brand Store) for The Frame Smart QLED TV by Samsung offers a good example of UGC-in-action. Under the heading of “Styled by you”, Samsung brings The Frame to life – showcasing how the TV looks and feels within the homes of real customers. The results are equal parts captivating and inspiring.
Similarly, if you are a brand-registered retailer on Amazon (and have access to A+ Content rights), the opportunity to integrate User-generated Content into both your brand store and PDP pages is already within your grasp. Through Enhanced Brand Content (EBC), Amazon makes it simple to add UGC carousels stocked full of imagery and video generated by your consumers. Chat with a member of the StoryStream team now for a full rundown of the opportunities!
Another example, and this time from the product display page for Salt-Water sandals on U.K. department store John Lewis & Partners’ eCommerce store. Here we see a strong use case for UGC in the PDP environment; by adding User-generated Content, Salt-Water seamlessly adds additional colour (and personality) to its product page, giving online shoppers far greater scope to see how the product looks in real life in the process. (Safe to say that UGC’s ability to visually communicate important form factors far outstrips that of a classic packshot!)
To recap, the benefits to brands of using User-generated Content in marketplaces are multiple:
- Conversion optimisation: real people love real content, and we’ve seen how UGC can drive a 25% increase in conversions for brands.
- Content variety: by syndicating UGC into marketplaces, brands increase both the volume and variety of imagery and video content on PDPs.
- People-Powered Commerce: differentiation at the point of sale (POS) is key in marketplaces, especially in situations where products can be compared with thousands of rivals there and then. User-generated Content offers a key point of contrast and helps a brand establish trust with consumers through social proof.
- Brand personality: any opportunity for a brand to put its stamp on the typically staid, heavily templated product listing pages of marketplaces is an opportunity worth taking. Your customers are your brand’s best advocates – let them help articulate your brand’s personality through their creativity.
If you are a brand looking to syndicate User-generated Content into marketplace and retailer pages, then get in touch with the StoryStream team now to hear more about our visual commerce platform.
UGC Syndication for Marketplaces
Whether you’re a multichannel house of brands, online department store, global marketplace, or vertical-specific eCommerce superstore … you’ll understand that giving your retailers every possible chance to maximise their profits through your ecosystem is a huge win-win.
To that end, it’s increasingly common for marketplaces to partner with technology providers – extending opportunities for optimisation to their brands while carving out a new revenue stream for themselves through co-marketing and sell-through activity.
At StoryStream, we partner with marketplaces to help them realise a variety of POS-monetisation opportunities: PDP, category and store UGC modules; branded shelves; Link in bio takeovers, and more.
If you run a marketplace ecosystem and want to help your retailers connect the dots through User-generated Content, then reach out to our Partner team today to organise a platform demo and opportunity analysis.
UGC Syndication – Scale, Fast
Returning for a moment to the original “four Ps”, one pillar – “place” – covers the question of where’s best to sell your product to ensure it’s in front of your target audience. We’ve seen that, for eCommerce brands, marketplaces offer many benefits – arguably the most influential being “scale”.
Yet while the chances of finding your target audience may be greatly improved by appearing in a marketplace, there’s plenty to consider for a brand before they add marketplaces to its eCommerce strategy. Foremost: is the resource that’s required for creating, updating, and automating that marketplace presence likely to generate an ROI that justifies the investment?
Here we’ve looked at how UGC Syndication can help brands optimise their marketplace listings/product display and category pages. We’ve seen how major brands are already realising that opportunity across a variety of marketplace formats, and we’ve considered the benefits of adding User-generated Content to third-party pages. We’ve also talked briefly about the opportunity for those marketplaces themselves; by partnering with subject matter expert technology providers, new revenue streams at the point of sale abound.
StoryStream enables brands to make the experience of shopping online more authentic, engaging and fun. By bridging the gap between the physical and the digital, we unlock the potential of People Powered Commerce. To learn more about how we can help your brand supercharge its marketplace presence through User-generated Content get in touch here. Or to learn more about our Partner programme, drop the team a quick note here and we’ll be in touch.