Every moment of crisis can become an opportunity: and Covid has unquestionably been an opportunity for retail brands all over the world which, forced to keep a distance from customers, have been forced to hatch new channels to bring them closer.
The landing place for all commercial realities at the mercy of the storm was the world of online shopping: this was not favoured by pre-pandemic customers and not very populated by shops, especially small ones, yet despite all this, the digital universe became a mandatory destination.
After an initial period of acclimatisation, the triangular relationship between retail, customer and web not only is now revealing its advantages but also its fun and engaging aspects.
Forget sad online catalogues and the forms to fill in to get in touch with the stores: nowadays you can video chat with shop assistants, virtually try on clothes through a smartphone and watch the presentation of the new collection of a clothing brand from your PC screen.
Here are the five digital innovations traced by Gartner to boost your online presence and stay up-to-date and contemporary.
Brands are always online, preferably on video: this is the future
In the retail sector, an equation seems to have established itself: as the time spent online by brands increases, so does sales and revenues. The reason is soon clarified: customers loathe being abandoned in front of a screen and prefer to make purchases from digital retailers who know how to be present, providing assistance and experience, albeit remotely.
If you want to rise in the ranking of digital consumer preferences, here are five innovations to keep an eye on and take inspiration from.
1. Video assistance to customers
Even virtually, a customer who wanders among the shelves of a digital store is an opportunity not to be missed. For this reason, some of the most popular brands have enhanced the classic live chat service on their sites, also implementing video options. Offering customers this type of support that allows them to communicate face-to-face with a salesperson can increase the propensity to buy by as much as 15 times, literally causing revenues to surge.
Among the best in class in the field of video consulting, Gucci stands out. With the “Gucci Live” project, the Italian fashion house set up a shop dedicated to online shopping at its historic headquarters, the Gucci 9 Hub in Florence, and then populated it with sales staff. From this showroom transformed into a set, Gucci streams every day and offers shoppers from all over the world the opportunity to communicate with staff via laptops and smartphones, recreating an authentic luxury experience.
Without going so far, even small brands can make video contact with their customers, offering direct and professional advice: just join ShopCall, the video call shopping service that, with a video call, allows users to make purchases remotely, letting sales staff assist them through their purchases.
2. One-to-One communication to pamper consumers
Post-pandemic salespersons will have to leave the store’s four walls and enter, albeit virtually, the homes of the most appealing customers.
To do this, many retail brands are equipping themselves with applications designed to stay in constant communication with consumers through chat, messages and promotional emails.
Thanks to these new digital platforms, brand ambassadors can communicate personally with individual customers – creating meaningful relationships with – and earn commissions on the sales generated, thanks to the tracking function of concluded deals. More than salesmen, therefore, true affiliates.
3. Live streaming presentations
Forget embarrassment and lack of confidence: in the future that awaits us, product promotion will migrate increasingly online, giving life to shows where it is essential to show and show yourself.
How? By streaming to the widest accessible audience. A very transversal mode of communication: clothing store owners could present through live video – on any social media – garments from the new collection, while those who have a beauty centre would have the ideal tool to organise live tutorials and teach customers how to use beauty products comfortably at home.
Do you already do this? Then you can go one step further: specialised platforms are on the way, such as the Swedish Bambuser that integrate live streaming, customer support in chat and sales in a single tool. In summary, while you are wearing the coat that just arrived in the store, an interested customer can write to you to ask for more information and, in one click, immediately finalise the purchase.
4. . Virtual dressing rooms
If the biggest obstacle to e-commerce, particularly for buying clothes online, is the lack of physical contact with the merchandise, then good news is on the way.
The big names in innovation are working to develop technologies based on artificial intelligence capable of overcoming the limits of distance and allowing customers to try on clothes online without wearing them.
One example is Zeekit: a platform that, thanks to augmented reality, allows users to wear clothes virtually. Customers can upload their photo to the app that scans the image, detects the shape and size of the body and adapts the garments to their actual measurements, verifying the clothes’ real fit, eliminating any uncertainties during the purchase phase.
5. Online tools, offline experiences
Even those nostalgic for the good, old-fashioned point of sale will not be disappointed: digital innovation can also be a strategic ally to support offline dynamics.
An example as simple as it is functional is the conjugation of web booking systems, typical of the restaurant world, adapted to physical retail. Using the dedicated online booking platforms, you can conveniently invite your customers to book a private visit to the store, behind closed doors and exclusive to them. Can you imagine the satisfaction of consumers in accessing, at no cost, an exclusive service where they will be pampered and where they will feel completely safe and protected?
This is the new frontier of shopping: it’s devoted to digital, but with one foot offline, and fanatically attentive to experience personalisation for each customer, with One-to-One communications.
To feel close again.