Last updated: Is emotional commerce really driving sales?

Is emotional commerce really driving sales?


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The founder and CEO of Fab, Jason Goldberg, recently opined that we were entering the third wave of e-commerce: Emotional commerce.

But some are now questioning whether or not beautifully designed and curated e-commerce sites that offer users a unique and engaging experience are really doing what they are supposed to do—and that is impact the bottom line.

In a fascinating editorial on GigOm, Eliza Kern poses the question, “Can a fun, emotional shopping experience translate into sales?”

Kern points out that while content-rich and gorgeously curated and designed e-commerce sits like Fab and The Fancy have huge valuations, their sales still cannot compete with Amazon. In fact, while Fab is reportedly valued at $1 billion and The Fancy at $600 million, Fab recently missed it’s revenue targets and The Fancy is bringing in revenue of about $3 million a month.

That’s in comparison to Amazon, which recently reported that its sales in electronics and other merchandise reached $6.48 billion, a year-over-year increase of 31%, according to Kern.

To take a step back, retailers like Fab aren’t selling giant TVs or boxes of coffee pods for the office machine. What they are doing is offering a niche market unique products designed to drive an emotional response. That doesn’t necessarily mean your average consumer is going to put a $150 teapot in their shopping cart and actually purchase it. This kind of retailing appeals to two distinct markets: Those who can afford to buy one-of-a-kind items that reflect their emotional and aesthetic values and those who aspire to be that consumer.

So can we call it “aspirational commerce?” Perhaps.

But the reality is that e-commerce vendors like Fab aren’t designed with a mass market in mind.

That said, we will see over time that kind of curation and beautifully rendered content marketing taking hold in the mass market. Take the example of Zappos, which already does a great job with crowdsourcing and curation.

We live in a visual world, and to compete with the soul-satisfying shopping experience we get in a brick-and-mortar shop, retailers need to go to great lengths to make the convenience factor of shopping online outweigh that sensory experience—which is what Amazon excels at.

Imagine what could happen if Amazon adopted the same emotional tactics as Fab. Would they be unstoppable? Perhaps so.

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