APAC is estimated to have been responsible for 64% of all e-commerce transactions in 2019 and mobile commerce is booming, with seven Asian countries placing in the top ten for mobile commerce penetration.
But despite these ideal conditions, perception is that publishers have been slower here than elsewhere in the world to take advantage of commerce content and harness e-commerce as a revenue stream for their businesses. Until now.
As publishers from Australia to Taiwan and Malaysia scale commerce, Skimlinks has played a key role in many of their journeys, so we’ve put together the key levers they can pull to grow commerce revenue:
Time is of the essence
Publishers in the UK and US are keenly focused on two commercial factors: commission rate and earnings-per-click. They want to know how many shares of a sale they’ll receive and how much they’ll make for every click they send to a merchant.
In APAC there are different key priorities: Time to delivery and shipping charges.
Shipping is key because as everywhere else people are becoming more impatient and want items quickly. In Australia for example, where shipping can sometimes take weeks, publishers will look to prioritise brands that can deliver items faster. Publishers are likely to see fewer conversions if the merchants they link to can’t deliver orders quickly.
Charges are also key. Free shipping has appeals everywhere, but in APAC it is especially appealing for publishers because it remains a relatively rare promotion, in a huge market where deliveries often cost more and take longer. Where publishers can’t find free shipping offers, they will look to pick the merchants that offer cheaper rates to ship items and use that to inform the merchants they feature in commerce content.
Use tailor-made expert editorial content
Despite e-commerce’s advance across APAC, commerce content lags behind, but many publishers find syndicated editorial content an expedient way to scale.
It helps them produce content without increasing direct headcount and enables them to rely on a regular stream of expert commerce content to publish.
It takes time to make the business case to hire commerce editors. While publishers work to scale commerce, to prove its value and argue for investment in the channel, syndicated content helps them maintain momentum.
The volume of articles produced plays a key role in publishers scaling commerce content. The more advice on products readers see, the more accustomed they become to using publisher recommendations to inform the purchases that they make. Skimlinks’ own editorial network has scaled to produce over 200 articles per quarter since the start of 2020.
Our research shows a commerce editor needs to write 5 articles a day for commerce to scale. So if syndicated content can supply some or all of those articles for a publisher it will help them scale faster. It can also offer valuable insights publishers can benefit from early in their commerce journey.
Commerce editors need to optimise the length of an article, number of links, number of merchants, when they publish content and many other factors. Bespoke commerce content, tailored editorial needs and informed by commerce expertise can make all the difference.
Highlight international brands in your commerce content
When we think about our top publishers in the UK and the US, they prefer to highlight domestic merchants.
That is to say that in the UK publishers will typically write about British retailers like John Lewis, Argos and Marks & Spencer, while in the US publishers will favour brands like Walmart, Target and Wayfair.
But in APAC there’s a much broader emphasis on international brands.
This varies between the individual sub-markets. International fashion brands like Nike, for example, perform strongly in Australia, which is doubly interesting as many of the top performers failed when they attempted brick-and-mortar launches in Australia.
Things look slightly different in South East Asian markets like Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Here international luxury brands like Net-A-Porter are the popular topic matter.
In South-East Asia there’s a huge appetite for luxury merchants across all categories. These naturally shape the kind of commerce content created and provide a different emphasis, then might be expected on large regional players like Alibaba.
Attention to detail is all important
Publishers in APAC really take the maxim one size does not fit all to heart. This is informed by their heavy emphasis on timeless or evergreen content.
Their preference is to spend more time on a single piece of content, that has a longer lifetime value, rather than more disposable pieces linked to seasonal e-commerce events.
A key focus area is product guides – for trainers or jeans for example – which they can update periodically to keep relevant. Attention to detail is arguably more vital here than elsewhere and that’s linked to cultural differences. For example publishers in Taiwan pay close attention to the individual colours of the item chosen, as different shades hold various deeper interpretations.
Audiences are also more demanding, so for articles around items a celebrity is wearing, or outfits from a TV show, readers want the exact pieces from the exact retailer and will know if a publisher has gotten it wrong.
Ecommerce sales in Asia-Pacific and Australia grew to an estimated $2.3 trillion in 2019.
We expect that growth to continue into 2020, driven in part by the continued growth of e-commerce, and by publishers who’ve focused on commerce, reaching maturity with their strategies in the next 12 months.
For APAC publishers that want to grow commerce the path to scale is clear:
- Prioritise merchants with shortest delivery windows and free shipping offers
- Take advantage of editorial content from others
- Highlight international brands in Australia, and luxury brands in South East Asia
- Attention to detail is all important
As publishers face uncertain times, commerce remains a revenue stream that can provide a valuable service to readers and offer alternative revenue to intrusive advertising. In APAC, as elsewhere in the world, there’s huge room for publishers to scale it as a meaningful part of their business.