Technology is forever evolving. A process that continually broadens audiences and creates new possibilities for every industry. Virtual retail has had several iterations over the years, and now it’s en route to becoming the go-to solution for retail, fashion, sports, and many other industries. Virtual environments offer customers an immersive and engaging alternative to typical online retail, such as e-Commerce. When you compare the two, it’s not difficult to see why both brands and consumers are excited about the virtual future.
Although it’s exciting and revolutionary enough to garner attention, you can’t rely on technology to carry your brand. Your virtual store needs to be memorable if you hope to increase engagement and encourage repeat business, which requires a bit of strategy. Here’s some of our expert advice.
1. Eye-Grabbing Aesthetic
Humans are visual creatures, and our brains process images significantly quicker than text and store them more efficiently. If you read something, you will only remember around 10% of it after a few days. Implement an image, and that percentage increases to about 65%.
For this reason, it’s essential to consider visuals when designing a virtual store. The interior and exterior design should grab people’s attention while offering insight into your brand’s story and vision. When people see something memorable and engaging, it takes a while for those feelings to fade. Brands take advantage of this fact every day with their design and branding choices.
Fortunately, the creative possibilities are endless when your canvas is a virtual environment. Whether you want to recreate real-life stores in virtual form or create brand-new retail spaces to launch your brand into the metaverse, so make sure you go above and beyond!
2. Create a Social Environment
If you want to better understand your audience, you need to look at human behavior. Brands should recognize how important social experiences can be for retail as we are social creatures and enjoy the inclusiveness of communities.
Additionally, implementing gamification into your virtual experience is a great way to draw people in and create a fun, competitive, and social environment.
Adding social features and rooms to your virtual store is a fantastic way to encourage interaction while offering your audience more than just a place to spend money. Your virtual store will be an experience that provokes a range of emotions and blurs the line between retail and leisure. We tend to remember the good things in life, so make sure your virtual store is one of them.
Moreover, sharing on social networks plays a crucial role in the growth of your virtual store. It not only increases your visibility and reach but also encourages organic growth as satisfied customers spread the word about your store to their own network.
Incorporating a social aspect in your virtual store can also help in reducing your marketing investment as satisfied customers become your brand advocates, promoting your store for you.
3. Omnichannel Retail
The conception of virtual environments and e-commerce has opened the door for a new era of omnichannel retail and provided brands with the tools to revolutionize the sector. Omnichannel retail is a strategy in which customers can interact with various sales and media channels simultaneously and move between them seamlessly , offering a holistic approach to the retail experience.
Many brands use omnichannel retail with a combination of brick-and-mortar stores, e-Commerce, social media, email marketing, and apps. By bringing the appeal and engagement of a virtual store into the fold, you strengthen all channels while broadening your audience. But why does this make your store more memorable?
For a variety of reasons. But primarily because it offers convenience and customer satisfaction and improves brand recognition. Omnichannel retail ensures the sales process is as easy as possible and provides several methods of purchasing products. Especially when you consider features like eCommerce integration that increase convenience and ensure efficiency across multiple channels. So it’s well worth exploring the possibilities of linking your sales and media channels to offer a more complete brand experience.
Consistency and reliability are key whether a customer is buying in-store, online, or in a virtual store.
4. Incentives and Rewards
If you look at all the leading retailers, whether it’s a brand or store chain, incentives and rewards play a vital role in customer engagement and loyalty. Coffee shops have stamp cards, supermarkets have point schemes, and retailers have discount rewards. It’s a proven marketing and sales strategy and one that works because who turns down a discount!
In the metaverse, incentives and rewards are a big deal as gamification is great for business, and the creative possibilities lack real-world restrictions. Point schemes, discounts, and tier systems will likely be standard procedures as it’s a simple yet effective way to increase engagement and customer retention. But the virtual world has much more to offer than that.
Brands already use exclusive NFTS, unique digital assets, and exclusive events to grab potential customers’ attention. Meaning that customers who are loyal to brands can ensure their avatar or virtual property is entirely unique. Whether they’re wearing exclusive gear or displaying exclusive NFTs in a retail store.. Events such as fashion shows, concerts, exhibitions and much more will prove to be needle movers over the next few years.
As a result, brands that are able to engage their customers in this way will lead the charge for increased brand growth in the virtual realm.
5. Keep Things Fresh
Modern consumers are fickle when it comes to engagement and loyalty, simply because retail is more competitive than ever. The more alternatives there are, the harder your brand has to work to maintain and grow its customer base. For this reason, you want to do everything you can to make your virtual store somewhere people want to come back to. Prevent boredom and encourage excitement.
An excellent solution for this is not sticking with the same aesthetic design for too long. If you do, you rely solely on products and in-store features to bring customers back. It’s not overly engaging if they know exactly what to expect. So don’t be afraid to switch things up occasionally and catch your customers off guard. Word of mouth combined with multi-channel promotion will inspire customers to see what the big deal is.
To facilitate the seamless replacement of products by brands, Emperia has created Artemis, a solution that allows brands to update their own virtual stores with ease. Brands can refresh collections and repurpose the space with the help of 3D or 2D models of their products. The virtual store can be integrated directly with the retailer’s catalogue for automatic product information and pricing updates. Props and models can be imported into Artemis’ library, where they can be easily placed into the virtual store. The virtual store can be fully integrated with the brand’s existing e-commerce solution and embedded into the retailer’s website. A virtual store management platform that is the first of its kind!
The seasons provide the perfect theme and timeframe for a design change. Remember, it’s virtual, so the expense isn’t anything close to if you were to redesign a brick-and-mortar store multiple times a year. Every season provides a unique opportunity for creativity and tapping into the emotions of customers. Christmas is definitely the standout season for retail, and just think of all the possibilities for engaging a broad audience spanning several age groups.
In addition, it is now possible to have a chat bot or real-life shopping assistant within the Metaverse, which can greatly improve customer experience. These virtual assistants can provide guidance and support to customers during their shopping journey, helping to enhance their overall browsing experience. With the data collected, brands can continuously improve the user experience and make shopping in the Metaverse a frictionless and enjoyable adventure!
Emperia is an industry-leading creator of immersive environments for retail brands and other businesses. Find out more!