Q&A with Connekt & Sony as They Partner to Drive T-commerce

Sony Smart TV viewers will soon be able to use their remote control and mobile device to securely purchase directly from their televisions, thanks to their new partnership with tech company Connekt. Here, we speak to Tripp Boyle, SVP sales strategy, Connekt, and Nick Colsey, Vice President, Sony Electronics, to discuss what the future has in store for t-commerce. 

RetailTechNews: Can you explain how the new ‘buy now’ button works?  
Tripp Boyle: Connekt‘s platform is able to ingest multiple data sets tied directly to what’s happening on TV, in real time. Examples include, ACR data, object, logo, or facial-recognition data, sports stats, and audience excitement levels. Depending on the brand initiative, Connekt is able to deploy interactive experiences, including a ‘buy now’ call to action, linked to specific moments on TV. The lowest hanging fruit for brand advertisers is to activate commerce within their existing TV spots. When a user engages with the buy now button on the television, the brand can either drive a viewer to the ShopTV app on their smart TV or deliver a link back to the viewer’s mobile device to complete the transaction.
How is this exploiting changes in the ways consumers are shopping for their products?
Tripp Boyle: The technology, and resulting experience, enhance the value exchange between brands and consumers on TV. Enabling a transaction in a specific moment of heightened awareness and impulse can work to hasten the viewer’s path to purchase. We’re enabling cross-channel shopping experiences that haven’t existed in the past and feeding into consumer demand for instant gratification, regardless of screen or device.
What must retailers do to make the most of the opportunities offered by t-commerce?
Tripp Boyle: The first step into t-commerce is an easy one. It’s working with a company, like Connekt, to enable the interactive functionality within the already existing scale of their TV spots. Beyond immediately enabling commerce via traditional TV messaging, retailers grow consumer awareness of the capability; and our research has shown that even if a consumer isn’t shopping in that moment, their likelihood to buy at any point goes up. Beyond activating shoppable TV spots, retailers can build smart-TV-based storefronts through apps, like ShopTV, at minimal cost and start to understand consumer behaviours on the newest shopping platform.
What sort of items do you envisage consumers buying through your smart TV? Will it be a direct competitor to voice commerce?

Tripp Boyle: Early market research has shown that more than 75% of viewers would be moved to purchase household and packaged goods. Electronics came in second, followed by clothing and apparel, and home and garden items. Buying in the moment is intuitively going to see higher success rates with lower consideration items. That said, starting a consumer down the path on a higher consideration item, via interactive TV, has shown success in its own right.

We believe that t-commerce will be a variant of, and even a catalyst for, voice commerce. As more homes link through smart speakers, and voice capabilities are built directly into smart televisions, we can drive the t-commerce experience entirely through voice.

What is the future role of TV? How has this role evolved over the last decade?
Nick Colsey: In 2007, Sony launched the world’s first connected TV device and streaming video content partnerships. A little over a decade later, according to eMarketer, 168 million viewers in the U.S. are watching connected TV.

Today, Sony 4K HDR Ultra HD TVs with Android TV are not only the best screen in your home. They are also capable of being the hub for smart home control, compatible with leading voice-control services such as the Google Assistant and Alexa, and are ready for the next wave of t-commerce. Our collaboration with Connekt is proof of this.

Tripp Boyle: TV’s role will always be entertainment. Historically, that premium entertainment has been delivered for ‘free’ in exchange for commercial time. The traditional ad model is changing as TVs get smarter, enabling the delivery of more personalised, interactive, and measurable ad experiences. Connectivity on TV is opening new capabilities that will tie entertainment more closely to commerce over the next 5-10 years.