Online shopping and the world’s relationship with it is evolving at lightning speed. It can seem that every other week there is a new eCommerce platform, another “revolutionary” social channel for distribution, or some new SEO tactic. Then there are some things that have looked and functioned basically the same for the last 10 years.
Kinda like product image sliders on ecommerce stores:
- Visit product page
- Click on image
- Scroll through images of product
It works. It’s fine, I guess. But in the modern world of interactive and dynamic phone-first media, surely we can do better!
Well, Web Stories could be the “better” that ecommerce stores are looking for.
What are Web Stories? Web Stories are the open web equivalent of “stories” that you see in social apps like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. Short, rich, phone-first media experiences.
Imagine one of these for each product on an ecommerce site. Sure, you have the typical slider of product images – they’re probably not going anywhere – but what about Stories that are related to the product. For brands, this feels pretty exciting.
Let’s have a look at what this could look like.
The Web Stories Plugin
The Web Stories plugin for WordPress has had a lot of attention and investment over the last couple of years. It brings the power of the open Web Stories format and makes it incredibly easy for WordPress content creators to craft Stories, right inside the WordPress admin.
Now imagine I have a client (Alison) with an online store where she sells access to online strength and fitness training programs. The nature of the “product” gives her stacks of potential around visual and engaging content, hence her strong Instagram account, but her website has struggled to achieve the same level of rich, creative, and inspiring media. This, she feels, has been impacting conversion rates.
Enter Web Stories.
Just like she does with Instagram and her other social accounts, Alison can easily create amazing on-brand and engaging content related to her products and engage with her audience right at the point of purchase decision making!
The screenshot here shows me building out a story, in WordPress, that’s related to one of Alison’s programs. The user interface here is super visual and user friendly. Everything is point, click, and drag around.
It’s 100% worth calling out a major advantage Web Stories has over those you see in social apps. Search Engines can crawl Web Stories and rank them!!! The Google search engine even presents Web Stories in a unique context in search results.
Bonus: Great overview here on SEO for Web Stories
On top of all that, Web Stories are delivered to users uniquely and richly through Discover, Google’s content discovery experience on iOS and Android. For Alison, this unlocks another customer acquisition channel.
A deep dive on creating a Story with the plugin would take a post of its own, but there are a stack of great tutorials floating around that walk you through the entire experience. This one here from the Google AMP team is particularly great.
Web Stories & Genesis
Genesis has long been the go-to foundation for scalable eCommerce stores on WordPress and with the focus that Genesis now has on the core Block Editor, the Web Stories plugin simply works. No messing around with compatibility or
function.php edits. Just install the plugin and you’re off to the races.
To show you what I mean, here is a landing page I’ve built out using the Authority Collection in Genesis Blocks Pro (took me about 10 seconds). The page is designed to promote one of Alison’s programs and I’m able to easily drop in a “Stories” block up in the header section. Adding the stories block is exactly the same as adding any other block within the block editor, with block controls available for configuring what stories to display, and how they should display.
The Genesis Authority Collection gives us all the good looks and adding the Web Stories in was as simple as adding the block (3 circles below text block) like shown below:
The block gives me plenty of options around things like which stories to show and how they should present on the page. You can see in the above screenshot the block options on the right for things like layout, style options, and filtering.
Under a typical eCommerce build, a couple of photos, a video, or, at best, a photo slider, would have been how I could showcase the program. The Stories give me something new, and pretty cool to play around with. Taking this further as well for this particular scenario, what if participants of Alison’s program sent through selfie-video style testimonials on how it’s helped them achieve their goals. Web Story format would be perfect for showcasing these!
Don’t cap your creativity to online courses though! This easily extends to all sorts of other product types as well. Apparel, DTC food, furniture, digital goods, etc etc etc.
Wrapping things up
As you can see, Web Stories have the potential to offer some pretty cool, interactive experiences for site visitors. Layering this on top of ecommerce and you can see how a brand can really take an edge.
If anything you’ve seen here captures your interest and you want to hang out with other like-minded folk, swing by the Genesis Community Slack and say hi!
Also, WP Engine have seriously doubled-down on our platform around eCommerce. Learn more here about what differences optimized infrastructure and tooling can make for your online store.