According to McKinsey, in a matter of around eight weeks, Covid-19 made records jump five years forward in consumer and business digital adoption, and 75% of people using digital channels for the first time in 2020 indicate they will continue to use them when things return to “normal.”
While the focus has been on virtual and AI technology — think customer-facing technology like virtual try-ons and 3D-configuration.
Since Covid-19, retail customers have experienced a digital surge and its effects on behaviors, meaning many are actually craving real human connections in addition to (and not to replace) digital means.
Focus on implementing omnichannel strategies to connect retail’s online and offline worlds, as well as hyper personalization and localization to create unique experiences and connections between customers, store associates and brands.
Think through the value-add of your technology and how much resources it will require for implementation before investing.
From the start, retail managers must nurture the technology for it to work efficiently and resonate with their retail teams.
Digital transformation in retail can only work effectively if leadership and company culture are in line. Similarly, be sure to inform employees about the benefits of your digital tools and provide proper support and training to help them meet customers’ expectations and augment human interactions.
A key best practice for retail technology to be truly efficient is integration. Keeping everything in one place — from reports to one-on-one communications — will save precious time and resources to increase focus on reaching strategic objectives.
Consolidating data can also enable retailers and brands to bridge the data gap that exists between their physical and online retail channels and allow for more personalized customer experiences in stores.
Habitat, a homewares brand within the Sainsbury’s group, has launched a new digital shopping experience entitled Room Creator and created by Hullabalook.
“The Room Creator experience enables shoppers to visualise products in their ideal room setting before they buy,” Hullabalook said in a LinkedIn post.
“It’s also the perfect de-risking tool for online furniture shoppers. And an engaging way to encourage shoppers to explore more of a product catalogue.”
The company’s tech is now live with six of the top UK furniture retailers.
SOCIAL COMMERCE, LIVE STREAMING SHOPPING EXPERIENCE SEES UPWARD TREND
Global data and measurement-driven media agency Essence unveiled its first-ever social commerce report, which investigates the rapidly growing trend of consumers buying products and services directly on social platforms.
According to the survey, 41% of respondents worldwide made purchases or intend to make purchases involving social platforms. China is the leader in social commerce, which is forecast to account for 13% of total e-commerce sales in 2021.
Almost 80% of consumers in China purchased items on social media. Singapore, India, and Indonesia followed with 50%, 49% and 48%, respectively.
In most countries, the average transaction value on social commerce is higher than the average transaction value on ecommerce sites.
Respondents in Japan recorded the highest average transaction value, between ¥11,001-55,000 yen ($96.74-$483.67 ) for social commerce, followed by the US, which had an average transaction value between $101 and $200. China, on the other hand, had a lower average transaction value of between ¥201-500 yuan ($31.48-$78.30 ).
The higher value transactions look to be driven primarily by men ( 35%) and by millennials aged between 25 and 44 ( 72%). Both the male and millennials are skewed towards higher value categories such as hardware, home cleaning, luxury and furniture.
The research indicates that most consumers enjoy a livestream shopping experience, with almost half ( 43%) of respondents claiming to have enjoyed it and 39% of respondents highly enjoyed it. These statistics held up not only in China, but also in other markets where social commerce is still in its infancy.
While the use of live streaming in ecommerce was primarily centred in the Asian market, it is now commonplace worldwide.
Luxury brands including Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Burberry all launched their Fall or Winter 2021 shows by live-streaming worldwide.
Brands such as L’Oréal are also driving growth in the luxury beauty segment, partly because social media enables the brand to interact with consumers, influencers, beauty advisers and salespeople on the same platform. These innovations and collaborations are driving sales of luxury items both online and offline.
Ultimately, the human element remains central to customer interactions, even if it’s embedded within automation, artificial intelligence, advanced analytics, or other technologies.
The premiums shoppers are willing to pay — as well as the value of their loyalty — add up for companies who heed the call for a customer experience that hinges on human connection.