What is tCommerce?

By Susan D
August 1, 2012


With the Olympics well underway and millions of eyes glued to their home TV sets, this is a great time to talk about tCommerce, aka television commerce, and how it will affect small eCommerce business owners.

Imagine watching a political debate and being able to automatically donate to the campaign of your choice, through an interactive TV.  Or seeing your favorite star on the red carpet and being able to order their outfit (or a reasonably priced version of it) by simply pressing a button on your remote. These ideas are not so out of reach.  In fact, as far back as 2001, NBC was testing the tCommerce retail market with a shirt that was worn by Debra Messing in an episode of Will and Grace.  Even 11 years ago, over 3000 of the promoted shirts were sold in less than18 hours and these types of interactive commerce ideas are gaining popularity as tCommerce becomes more understood.

So what is tCommerce?

In a nutshell, tCommerce is basically television commerce that targets viewers with interactive commercials, allowing them to buy on the spot by clicking a button on a remote control device.  There does seem to be some confusion amongst the internet community about tCommerce however, so just to clarify…

eCommerce = electronic commerce, such as the internet

mCommerce = mobile phone or mobile tablet commerce

socialCommerce = any social media selling, such as Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest commerce

tCommerce = television commerce… the ability for consumers to purchase goods and services through their televisions.

Why is tCommerce important?

According to a survey conducted by PayPal in October 2011, half of TV subscribers (49%) show an interest in purchasing goods and services linked to the content they’re watching on TV, either directly from their television through their remote control, or on a companion device (smartphone or tablet). …  Furthermore, according to research done by Nielsen, consumers who watch traditional television are engaged approximately 5.1 hours a day, whereas consumers who surf the Internet are engaged less than an hour a day.

To add to the growing popularity, the big dogs have joined the game.   PayPal, Comcast, and TiVo have formed a partnership to “bring T-Commerce to life”.  Soon, a commercial spot will be an interactive opportunity for consumers to select an item on the spot (TiVo) using a remote control like device (Comcast) to pause the show being watched and complete the transaction (PayPal)!  There are many other companies in the loop, as well.  Millions of cable boxes have been upgraded so that advertisers can reach the large television audience.

How will tCommerce affect small to medium business merchants?

For now, tCommerce shouldn’t have much effect on the world of an online business owner simply because it is dealing with a completely different target buyer – TV audiences.  Though it will likely be a great channel for some marketers, internet sales continue to climb at an unprecedented rate.

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