Storytelling in e-commerce: how to use it

February 23, 2021

Storytelling remains one of the most promising trends in e-commerce and marketing, in general. There is nothing to be surprised at. In life, we are constantly telling stories and giving examples to convince each other. The same approach works perfectly in advertising: to persuade a customer to buy something, share a convincing story associated with your product or the entire brand. This not only opens up a world of creativity but also allows brands to justify their value without boring explanations. For those who are interested in the concept of storytelling for an online store, we’ve made a guide on how to find an idea for your story and where it can be implemented.

How is it different from advertising?

Commercials have a clear goal: to show their product is better, the price is lower, or the quality is higher, so it should be bought immediately. Storytelling works differently. It creates images, evokes emotions and interest in the DNA of your brand, or a particular campaign. It does not aggressively urge to buy, but only pushes customers to make a choice in your favor. In addition, this concept explains how your products satisfy customers’ needs or make their everyday life better.

Why does storytelling attract customers?

The American Management Association identifies 3 compelling reasons why storytelling is considered a great tool for sales:

  • Stories build strong relationships. Sharing the right story can empower to capture attention and persuade your customers in a matter of minutes as it provides a personal glimpse into your world. 
  • It speaks to the part of the brain where decisions are actually made. In short, it is not enough to use rational arguments alone: we need to be influenced emotionally.
  • This concept makes it easier to remember your ideas and products. Just a fact, one study found the following: after people listened to a pitch, only 5% could recall a statistic, but 63% remembered the storyline.

In addition, there’s another factor that keeps storytelling at the forefront these days. The pandemic forces people to spend more time at home and do almost everything online. As a result, they see a ton of standard online ads that may feel boring and monotonous. Acting as an antidote, a unique story allows you to stand out from the competition.

How to start storytelling in e-commerce?

A story can be considered successful and engaging if it elicits the desired emotional response. The closer the words are to the target audience and their life, the stronger the resonance is. If you already have a narrative, test its power and authenticity. To do this, forget for a while that you are a brand owner. Read or watch it from the buyer’s perspective and ask what feelings, emotions, or ideas it evokes. If it hits, continue working with this material. Using this principle, you can use the concept of storytelling in different directions, including:

  • Brand story
  • Your personal story
  • Product history
  • Reviews and customer stories

A few examples for inspiration

Kleine Prints

On Kleine Prints page, a German-based design photo books e-store, you can find the story behind the brand. Its founder Eva Malawska shared how she came up with a business idea while searching for high-quality photo books for her little daughter. After reading this, you feel this company is doing more than just selling photo books. Kleine Prints aims to improve the lives of young parents, and this definitely resonates in their hearts.


Stavanger foto

Stavanger foto, a Norwegian retailer of photo equipment and related services, has a tradition of posting their Christmas cards every year since 2015. In addition to creative employee photos, you can read the story behind this project and each photo, in particular. This tradition not only helps the brand stand out but also allows them to advertise the possibility of creating their own Christmas photo cards online.


CEWE Photoworld

Being one of the largest photo printing companies based in the UK, CEWE provides photo books, digital prints, and personalized photo gifts. To add a homey feel to the brand, CEWE published its customer stories. In one of them, you are introduced to the Larkin family who have been using products of this brand for 8 years. Besides sharing a story, this family starred in a Christmas commercial. This is a great example of how customers can build brand loyalty by being involved in the marketing campaign.


Midori/MD Paper

Designed and manufactured in Japan, MD paper products are built for comfortable writing. Their product line includes notebooks, pens, envelopes, calendars, and more. In addition to the minimalist and stylish design of their website which explains MD’s product concept in detail, you can find a few users’ stories as well. Unlike the previous example, they are in a form of an interview where a guest describes his/her hobby and how MD products assist in creative purposes.


Bottom line

Remember that by telling a story you are not selling. You help potential buyers understand how their tasks can be solved with your product or service. Before creating a good story in e-commerce, remember the following:

  • it’s explained in simple terms. Your customers shouldn’t require special skills or knowledge to comprehend it.
  • it should get attention. If a story has a dramatic or non-trivial effect, it would be impossible to pass by.
  • it’s convincing. Emotions evoked by your brand make your business achieve a distinctive online identity.

Without a doubt, storytelling is an efficient marketing tool that gives your online store a competitive edge and, as a consequence, makes an impact on sales. So, don’t hesitate to share your story with the world!