Discussions concerning the retail industry's future frequently sound like science fiction. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, retail trends that once seemed like a distant future are coming into our lives now.
Whereas e-commerce used to be all about ease and speed (as mastered by companies like Amazon), we are now seeing a shift in consumer priorities toward immersive experiences that put the customer first.
What is Virtual Shopping?
The rise of VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) assisted e-commerce experiences known as "virtual shopping." Virtual retailing reinvents the online buying experience by employing 3D representations of the actual in-store setting rather than a static product catalogue.
From the convenience of their homes, online shoppers can "walk" around a store, take in product displays, and make purchases as they normally would. It's a special mix of the convenience of internet purchasing with the immersive nature of traditional retail.
What is Social Shopping?
E-commerce that takes place directly on or through social media networks is referred to as "social commerce." The epidemic has hastened this shift, which has transformed how individuals discover, browse, and make purchases.
In our fast-pacing world businesses can't afford to idly wait until consumers discover them. Innovative tools like the Facebook Discovery Commerce make it easier for businesses to identify consumers who are most likely to enjoy their products based on the content they have engaged with.
Platforms on social media are developing new features to satisfy the growing demand for social commerce. Twitter recently unveiled a new tool called Twitter Shops that enables businesses to display up to 50 products on their profiles. Similar to this, TikTok is testing purchasing functionality in a separate TikTok app to aid firms in managing their e-commerce. Future e-commerce firms will be able to sell directly on social media platforms and offer seamless customer experiences thanks to the evolving social media capabilities.
Benefits of Virtual and Social Shopping
- Analytics for Consumer Behavior. An exclusive look inside internet shopping behaviour is provided by a virtual store. For instance, you may examine interest areas, customer movement and clicks around the store, devices, locations, gender and much more. This all can enrich your marketing and product strategies.
- Omnichannel Experience. A wonderful method to engage customers and create a real omnichannel strategy, virtual shopping gives customers a novel retail experience that combines responsive customer service with the connectedness of digital.
- Having the freedom to test out various store concepts. Without having to spend the time and money to change an actual storefront, virtual shopping allows you to A/B test several store concepts with your clients. For instance, you may include a customer survey in your online shop asking visitors to rate their overall satisfaction. A virtual store redesign might also be used as a pop-up teaser campaign for what is in store for your actual stores, increasing online traffic.
- Better experiences with products. Virtual stores provide a far richer product experience than traditional websites. As a result, customers may examine your products from all sides, see how they look in various materials or colours, and get live demonstrations.
- Make quick inventory changes or campaign-related adjustments. The inventory of a virtual store may fluctuate in accordance with seasons or active marketing, much like in real stores. These modifications can be made with just a few clicks because everything is online. This makes it possible for store owners to maintain an accurate inventory.
- Increase Your Customer Base. Location is crucial for every business or start-up, even if you are situated in a major metropolis. However, even if your location is not ideal, having a great online presence can significantly impact your ability to attract customers. New clients will be able to find you with the help of online buying choices, regardless of whether you operate out of a tiny corner store or possibly your house.
- Utilize Advertising and Promotions Possibilities. Customers will post about shopping and even recommend you on social media. This turns into the most recent form of word-of-mouth that your company will rely on. Also, advertising can become way more inventive with the use of VR/AR elements in it.
- Instant Feedback and Reviews. The benefit of receiving real-time feedback on your goods or services comes along with virtual shopping. Even if the customer had a negative experience, you as the company owner can look into the problem much more quickly. Additionally, you can spot trends in your customers' feedback.
- Build Customer Trust. Having a web presence for a business is crucial for boosting client confidence and trust. Customers may be sure they aren't falling for a scam thanks to safe online transactions and testimonials.
- A higher ranking on search engines. Social media commerce has been shown to enhance website traffic, which will eventually affect your ranking in search engine results bringing you more customers.
The point of sale has changed as retail becomes more and more digital. Customers want to interact with merchants on their own terms; and what better way is there than to shop in the online environments where they are most at ease.
A largely untapped opportunity exists in virtual shopping and social commerce for both new and existing firms to be where their customers are.