As one of the largest industries in the world, the retail sector is exciting and constantly evolving. The last 12 months have seen a rise of virtual shopping, further consumer use of omnichannel retail and much more.
Just earlier this month Business of Fashion released data on the importance of checkout UX/UI in relation to customer conversion rates and the spectrum of the selection of e-commerce stores used in the study is far wider than most would imagine.
So, what does the future hold for retail and what are the anticipated consumer behavior changes for the next six months? From omnichannel marketing to the metaverse and beyond, here we delve into what the future of retail may hold and how consumer behavior is likely to shift in the coming months and years.
Are brick-and-mortar stores becoming obsolete?
Technology has the incredible ability to completely revolutionize industries and the growth of e-commerce and virtual spaces are perfect illustrations of this. The advent of technology has completely changed the landscape of retail and commerce, with many now questioning the future of physical stores. From small online stores to established retail corporations, technology has significantly influenced the way we shop and acquire products.
The retail industry has seen significant changes in recent years, with the growth of e-commerce and virtual stores offering new opportunities for both retailers and consumers. While e-commerce has made a significant impact on the retail market, the ‘physical store experience’ remains a vital part of the industry.
Virtual spaces are a great option for consumers who enjoy the aesthetic appeal of physical stores but value the convenience of online shopping. By bridging the gap between these two shopping experiences, virtual stores provide the perfect solution for shoppers who want the best of both worlds. These virtual spaces allow shoppers to browse and purchase products through a digital platform, often using virtual reality or other immersive technologies to create a realistic shopping experience. A super example is Bloomingdale’s multi-brand virtual holiday store that featured CHANEL, Ralph Lauren and Nespresso. Not only did customers experience Bloomingdale’s as a brand in a unique, personalized way, they were also able to do this in the comfort of their own home at a time convenient for them.
Consumers are enjoying omnichannel (and omniplatform) retail
Mobile devices have been a valuable tool in retail for many years now, but the future of retail isn’t mobile; it’s multi-device. The average consumer uses three devices a day, and many use the same number of devices to carry out retail activities – so much so that 71% of consumers use mobile devices to research products and see it as a vital part of their in-store experience.
Retailers need to use this prompt to invest in omnichannel marketing and ecommerce to enhance your customer experience and give customers what they’re after. By offering consumers a broader range of digital touchpoints (multi-device and channel), brands will increase brand traffic, revenue, and enable growth. Omnichannel ecommerce also provides enhanced availability of products, visibility, and customer communication, all of which contribute to the success and optimisation of all areas of the business.
Social media, email marketing, or CRM, and NFTs are just a few examples of these digital touchpoints that retailers can use to improve customer experiences and engage new audiences. By having a presence on social media, retailers can connect with customers in real-time, providing timely updates and information about new products and promotions.
CRM tools enable retailers to gain valuable insights into customer preferences, behaviors, and needs, which can be used to personalize marketing efforts and create a more personalized, tailored shopping experience. The use of this data is especially crucial for customer retention and gaining the insight to engage new audiences. Why not also use the data provided by Business of Fashion earlier this month around checkout speed and implement ways of tracking this for yourself?
NFTs are on the rise and more and more brands are jumping on the bandwagon. Lacoste added a token-gated room to their virtual space, only accessible by those holding a Lacoste NFT – this not only created a space for loyal users to feel valued, but the gamification within the room kept them returning daily (encouraging users to engage and promote brand loyalty). Another example is Starbucks – just last week they launched a Web3 loyalty programme offering NFTs as collectibles.
The rise of the metaverse and virtual stores
The metaverse and use of VR and AR technology are not only impressive, but can significantly improve conversion rates, open up new audiences and greatly enhance customer experience amongst other benefits. Many brands have leapt into the virtual realms this year, including Lacoste, Bloomingdale’s (twice!), Ralph Lauren, CHANEL, Dior amongst plenty of others – why not explore their spaces for yourselves to see just how engaging they are?
We recently covered how virtual stores can actually reduce business costs for brands ready to take the leap into the virtual world and all it has to offer – and it’s true. The opportunity to generate further revenue is astounding as the virtual world is infinite within the constraints of budget, of course. Some brands are seeing ROIs of as much as 450%+ by means of a virtual experience or space within the metaverse. Why not have a look at how Sunglass Hut integrated AR into their virtual space to improve the customer journey and enable users to try sunglasses on?
Although the widespread use of metaverse stores is still a way off, the foundations are in place for them to be used for sales and as a new multi-purpose channel. We’ve already discussed the value of omnichannel strategies, and for some, it’s already a valuable tool for omnichannel e-commerce and retail. Here are a few of our predictions for 2023 within the metaverse and virtual spaces.
Retailers need to be agile and use all the data they can get
There are many reasons retailers need to be flexible in their approaches to technology, payments, services, products, and more. Customer needs are forever changing while their quality expectations remain the same. Retailers who fail to adapt and implement solutions to keep their customers satisfied will fall behind, especially as flexibility is a priority for lots of brands now.
Omnichannel retail truly shines in its ability to provide valuable data and insights about customers and their behaviors. With the use of multiple channels, you can gather in-depth information about your customers and their needs, allowing you to better understand how to earn their loyalty. This knowledge is invaluable in today’s competitive market, and it’s one of the key ways that omnichannel retail can help your business.
It’s important to remember that every consumer is unique, which means it’s essential to be flexible and adaptable in order to demonstrate value. From offering a range of delivery options and integrating in-store and online shopping experiences, to providing payment plans during difficult times, there are many ways that you can cater to the needs of your customers and drive your business forward. By being flexible and open to change, you can set yourself up for current and future success.
Find out more about Emperia’s work in the metaverse and the virtual stores we create for leading brands.