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E-commerce storytelling is gaining popularity and is trendier than ever. Let’s study why and how.

How do you plan your day? “I’ll get up, hit the gym, freshen up, probably make eggs for breakfast and then head to work”, something similar? Why do we watch movies? We know that most of the parts of a movie are fictional and yet we enjoy watching movies. One of our favorite shows is Game of Thrones – all fictional, yet we enjoy it. Storytelling, precisely. We love hearing stories and believing in stories, no matter how far from reality they are. Humans think and plan in narratives.

Seth Godin says,

“People don’t buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories, and magic.”

Stories have been a part of our communication for thousands of years. We are biologically wired to engage with stories. When we hear a story about someone taking an action, our brain reacts the same way it would when we took that action. We feel like we’re a part of the story!

Business works the same way. When you tell a story, people relate to it. Your brand becomes more “human”. Storytelling is the most powerful tool known to us. We might be logical in decision making but when it comes to emotions, we go with what strikes the right chord. We spoke about why holiday marketing works. The reasons are similar. When you strike a sense of excitement, fear, suspense, happiness, or any other emotion, we connect to it. Every story has a message, doesn’t it? When the message is powerful enough to take action, you drive sales. That’s how businesses leverage the power of storytelling.

Why does Storytelling work?

It humanizes your brand

Storytelling humanizes your brand. Consumers are sensitive to shameless advertising and brand promotions. By telling a story, you show the consumer that there are actual humans running the business. Sounds obvious but this small step goes a long way in building trust and loyalty. Online consumers are cautious about sharing credit card and personal information online. Naturally, consumers are more likely to trust you when you show them the human side of your business.

Look at The Body Shop, for example. Not only do they share the story about how they started but also show their journey since they started. Their humble beginnings, idea generation and determination is what makes their About Us Page “human” and relatable.

Storytelling By The Body Shop
Storytelling By The Body Shop

It is all about the consumer

When you show the consumer how you’re solving their problems, you focus on the consumer and not your product. The entire point becomes about the consumer and not you. Essentially, the consumer is the hero, not you or your product.

According to Copyblogger, the hero of the story is someone who has transformed from being an ordinary person to something extraordinary, as the story progresses. You don’t need to talk about yourself or your business but talk about customers. Talk about how your customers are the crux of your business. Center your stories around them. Use customer testimonials and feedback directly in ads and native content.

Shopify, for example, uses customer stories on their homepage. Not only does this show authenticity but also build trust. Users resonate with other customers and are willing to try when they hear it from the general people like you and me.

Customer Stories by Shopify
Customer Stories by Shopify

It differentiates you from competition

Your competition can match your features, pricing, etc but not stories. Stories make you stand out. In the earlier days, you could stand out from the competition by building a fancy store or an extensive inventory. However, when it comes to e-commerce especially, it gets tricky. It is a lot harder to convince people why you’re better than your competition. Business stories and customer stories are what will help you persuade your target audience to buy from you.

Storytelling should be present everywhere – your about page, homepage, product description, etc. Dorothy Perkins really takes it up a notch with their storytelling techniques. Their “Inspire me” showcases outfits based on emotions, occasion and season. They put together collections in the form of catchy, visual stories.

Visual Storytelling - Dorothy Perkins
Visual Storytelling – Dorothy Perkins

Consumers relate to stories

We mentioned how consumers are more likely to trust your business if you show them the human side of your business. Along with that, consumers are also more likely to relate. That’s the power of storytelling! People relate to stories. People hear stories like they’re a part of the story. When consumers relate to your brand, they build trust and loyalty.

Trust and loyalty doesn’t instantly lead to a conversion. However, it emphasizes top of the mind recall. Next time when they hear or see your brand, they’d be able to recall, form deeper connections and eventually convert.

How do you build great stories?

Listen to customers

What state of mind does a customer purchase from you? It is possible that you solve a particular problem for the customer but it is also imperative to realize the scenarios in which the customer faces those problems. For instance, if you’re selling running shoes, you’re solving the need for a durable pair of shoes, which can be used in athletic activities. But do only sportsmen buy your shoes? No! You and I also buy running shoes. And why? Probably to encourage me to go running and adopt a healthier lifestyle. Or probably someone wants to go running to get in shape because she aspires to become a model.

Pay close attention to all your customer worries, needs, desires, and aspirations. State their problems, show how you understand them and then, how you solve them.

Dove does a fantastic job in formulating stories around customers. Whether it’s dealing with uneven skin tone or girls going through puberty, Dove identifies each segment of the audience and builds it’s product stories around them. For Dove, it is all about making the customer feel good. Their message “real beauty lies within” has a social impact on numerous girls and women around the globe.

Dove Inspiring Women through Storytelling
Dove Inspiring Women through Storytelling

Show how you solve problems

What problem does your product solve? What value do you add to the customer? Say, if you sell fashion subscription boxes based on the users’ interests and likes, one of the use cases can be around the people who aren’t sure which outfits to pick. If I am not good at conceptualizing my outfit, a monthly subscription box with complementary products would really ease me off. Again, the value your product adds here is – relieving me of planning the products I shop for. Hence, your story can revolve around how you solve the problem for me.

For example, Shopify encourages people to turn hobbies into a business. One might think their value proposition is multiple small and medium-size business owners but ask the customers what value does Shopify add to their lives! From homemakers to people looking for an alternate source of income, Shopify is a source of confidence and inspiration!

Shopify encourages turning hobbies into business
Shopify encourages turning hobbies into business

Be socially aware and conscious

Just like the popular saying goes, “think global, act locally”. Can you give something back to the community? Show people how you care. Mention giving as a part of your brand beliefs. Whether it is charity, volunteering or sponsoring with local projects, you can share it as your brand story.

When we hear stories, our brain functions in the exact same way it would if we actually performed the action. Hence, when a customer hears a story, he feels as if he is experiencing it himself, making it easier for him to remember. This may not lead to a direct purchase but will create brand awareness and top of the mind recall. Hence, when the customer comes across your store or digital presence, he will recall the story and be motivated enough to purchase.

What are some of your favorite e-commerce stories? Comment below or write to us.

If you’d like to contribute or want us to help your business, write to us at [email protected]

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