Responsive design is becoming a necessity for ecommerce sites and content publishers that want to make the Web experience available, consistent and usable across devices. But when content is your product, you may not survive on responsive alone.
In today’s digital economy, customer experience is the driving force behind revenue generation, customer satisfaction and loyalty.To succeed in customer experience management, your omni-device strategy should be augmented with native capabilities that take into account the preferred content a user is looking to purchase and engage.
Responsive design vs. native monetization
Traditional ecommerce was built around the desktop experience — the mouse, keyboard and web browser with the home page, category menu, product pages, cart and checkout. Today, this experience may be pushed to a variety of mobile devices through adaptive and responsive design, but only a few intelligent systems can differentiate the presentation layer from a contextual user experience.
Content consumption now happens within the context of life, with various sized screens to suit that context. While a responsive approach ensures content can be viewed across devices, native monetization extends the experience you want to deliver, determining what devices make sense for the experience, then layering commerce capabilities to support your business model. (Note: Native monetization is a term typically applied to native advertising, its application is not limited to B2B ad sales, encompassing direct-to-consumer monetization models for digital content as well as baking commerce functionality into digital retail experiences you want to build aside from your website.)
Native monetization and the ‘textbook of the future’
One example of native monetization in action is the ‘textbook of the future,’ a prototype we built using Elastic Path Cortex. The digital textbook experience is best suited for tablets and e-readers, students will never carry a desktop to class, and are toting laptops less and less, making the textbook of the future is a natively tablet experience.
Within the tablet textbook lies a wealth of monetization potential that can match a variety of higher education business models, such as subscription, license, rental or access bundled with tuition. In an app-like way, the content itself can be integrated with commerce capabilities to support in-book transactions with real or virtual currencies and credits.
For example, supplementary video, tutorials, exercises, practice quizzes, study guides and more can be unlocked through microtransactions.
In traditional ecommerce, to access supplementary content, a student would visit the publisher or title’s website, navigate through a catalog of SKUs, add items to cart and complete a checkout funnel, download the purchase to the device (or sync from desktop), and perhaps open in its own application. With native monetization, there is no browser and no SKUs, the cart and checkout are embedded into the content itself. Commerce pieces like profile and payment details, entitlements, order check, order history, cross-sell and upsell, review content, cart management and order processing are layered right into the digital product, and transactions become native to the experience.
Touching content unlocks a cart and checkout overlay. Using touch gestures, the student can drag items to a native cart, with pricing applied based on user’s entitlements (subscription status, available credits, etc).
The customer’s payment information stored in the commerce system is pulled into the textbook, so the student can frictionlessly confirm payment with a swipe, or update payment information from the cart (student in the textbook’s logged in state has already provided account password).
Here it is in action:
How it works
In this example, to make content itself transactionable requires the ability to pull pricing, SKU information, entitlements and the like from other systems, such as an ecommerce engine or subscription system, and merge these capabilities with content from a CMS. While it’s possible to “hardwire” these systems together, it’s not an efficient, inexpensive or scalable approach. It requires specialized skill, a deep knowledge of enterprise architecture, and access to sensitive business systems.
This is one of the IT headaches we aimed to solve when we built Cortex. Cortex is a Business API that acts as a “unified service layer” that spans multiple back-end systems and services, simplifying the “web of chaos” that results from holding data and services in many different places.
Our ‘textbook of the future’ example uses Cortex to embed commerce functionality like discounts, promotions, bundles and personalization from the commerce system into the product, making transaction capability “native” to the experience.
Responsive or native?
It’s not an either-or situation. Responsive design allows content authors to view in real-time how content will be seen across web, mobile and social channels, and there’s a strong case for you to use it. Native monetization is about extending the user experience with embedded commerce, driven by the rapidly expanding technological innovations that are becoming more and more integral to modern life (and business). Are you ready for it?