With 2021 coming to a close, the physical retail landscape is still facing uncertainty. To help safeguard your business in 2022, we share 3 reasons why virtual shopping matters.
What is virtual shopping?
Virtual shopping enables retailers to use technology such as AR, VR and live video shopping that reflects physical retail interactions.
One example of virtual shopping: live video shopping
Live video shopping offers an opportunity to connect with customers from your eCommerce site in an entirely new way: live video shopping. It has already been achieved in quick to market format, offering one-way video calls like Zoom, Facetime and WhatsApp. But retailers can now utilise headless commerce technology to present a virtual storefront on their website.
It’s experiences like this that can empower brands and customers to collaborate in an online space. The results? Great customer satisfaction, decisions are made in confidence and repeat custom; all from the comfort of home.
How virtual shopping attracts today’s consumer and for the future
Prior to the pandemic, 88% of UK consumers shopped in person, falling to 50% during nationwide lockdowns. It is expected to bounce back to 75% but not without its changes.
More customers are demanding hybrid fulfilment options, such as curbside pickups and click and collect.
New shopping habits have changed what it is like to shop local, with many seeking small or independent shops. Research from Shopify suggests that to shop local means the following: shop is within my area (59%), the shop is within walking distance (52%), the shop is independently owned (34%) and finally, the shop is within a specific region scored a 14%.
With flagship stores nestled in cities and independent stores localised in specific regions, brands can risk losing precious footfall that boosts conversions. On the flip side, it opens opportunities for brands to optimise their digital channels to maximise opportunities.
Motivators for customers to shop locally is to feel a sense of community (33%), customer service (29%) and convenience (64%). Brands looking to capitalise on emerging trends should consider what makes shopping in person a special experience.
Virtual shopping experiences borrows traits from both channels, creating an online community of virtual shoppers and retail experts with the eCommerce benefits of convenience and quick delivery.
This brings us to the next point…
Online shopping plays a crucial part in the customer journey, whether it leads to a conversion or not. 47% of consumers research products before entering a physical store. From checking up reviews, product descriptions to inventory – the internet offer an answer to everything…almost.
Online brands with vast product inventory or lack of website optimisation tools may find it harder to convert sales. Customers who are faced with cluttered product pages, lack of customer service and negative on-site experience, will be encouraged to switch to competitors to find their answer.
Whilst selling quality products strongly motivates purchases, retailers should consider how they can present themselves at these precious moments. It can change a light-touch inquiry to something spectacular.
By leveraging live video shopping technology, brands can deploy ambassadors at the forefront of digital touchpoints. It allows them to streamline customer service journeys, identify needs and begin establishing a strong brand connection.
Many customers who experience live video shopping are happy to simply be talking to a human at the other end. It also addresses the key motivators for shopping in-store such as a sense of community, customer service and convenience.
Video can also be used to support complex items too. One great example is the consumer electronic brand, Hughes, championing helpful advice through one-to-one connected video commerce. This alongside virtual assistants can offer outstanding customer experiences that will make brands stand out against competitors.
To raise customer satisfaction, retailers must consider what makes a purchase simple and stress-free. In addition to fair returns and quick delivery’s, customers also want to make purchases in confidence.
By integrating live video technology within your eCommerce engine, customers can interact with your very own retail team, building trust and confidence in your product selection.
Retailers looking to capture younger generations must also look toward video. With the TikTok generation coming of age, their lives have been surrounded by video. Whether that is for content, entertainment, news or learning.
So if it’s not video for now, live streaming content will be a key driver for D2C brands to master for the future.
live video has an opportunity to create an entirely new workforce too. With high-street retailers closing shop or downsizing leaves a highly-skilled retail workforce. This offers an opportunity for people of all ages to harness what they’ve learnt and transfer it to the digital space.
Many are virtual experts can work from home, in-store or even in dedicated contact centres.