With retailers facing a multitude of challenges from the evolving COVID-19 situation, it can be difficult for even the savviest businesses to stay at the top of their game. The economic impact and “essentials only” buying cycle, has made customers more cautious about purchases, particularly when they are unable to physically experience products instore. However, with positive news about a reduction of cases and easing of restrictions, what does the future hold for retailers and how can they be best prepared?
The trends in buyer behavior have been rapidly fluctuating since the onset of the pandemic. First came the infamous panic buying phase where customers focused on core items and everyday products became impossible to find. As tighter lockdowns were enforced, customers broadened their scope to include products that would enhance the quality of their lifestyle. With the restrictions now being lifted, the next trend is yet to be determined, but a clear winner is online shopping. See how eCommerce has grown via BigCommerce’s infographic.
As stores reopen and customers approach a new reality of social distancing, the traditional retail environment is undergoing a significant transformation. Online shopping was a growing force prior to COVID-19 and now having a strong digital presence is more crucial than ever. The best way to move forward is to emphasize digital advancement by employing new and transformational technology to ensure a progressive future.
A digital world is a new norm for retail
Online retail is not a one size fits all solution. There are plenty of challenges, particularly to retailers with a limited or non-eCommerce enabled strategy in place. However, the digital world has been evolving rapidly and the best news for retailers is that there are many tools and technologies available. The implementation of a solid digital marketing strategy can create an ongoing and sustainable new customer base in unprecedented times.
Content development and social media are some obvious and cost-effective measures for retailers to put into practice. With the rise of influencer marketing, brands can leverage the power of endorsement and maintain a positive connection with their customers.
One of the most trending retail strategies is Augmented Reality, which has proven to be revolutionary in a diverse range of retail sectors such as furniture, fashion, beauty, and appliances. A survey conducted by Grid Raster has observed that 56% of businesses have adopted forms of mobile AR/VR technology. So, how can retailers take advantage of AR to create an immersive shopping experience?
In the past, retailers worldwide had been facing a longstanding problem with online purchasing – the doubt and hesitation in customers’ minds when they are unsure if a product is right for them. Augmented Reality creates an “engaging” experience for customers and drives them towards an informed and ascertained decision-making process. AR facilitates the option of ‘trial at home’ thereby increasing the purchase confidence of customers. It employs realistic 3D products that enable customers to view items from various angles in high definition, providing a natural and life-like experience. Customers have the luxury to experiment with a range of products and evaluate how well they suit requirements. This process enables retailers to boost sales for their products, even when their physical stores may see limited traffic.
The benefits of AR are not temporary and circumstantial to the current situation. AR creates a long-lasting effect and as customers benefit from the experience, it solidifies the technology as an industry-standard service they expect. See how AR is complimenting ecommerce in Invesp’s infographic.
The pandemic and need for social distancing, have prompted consumers to embrace digital, ranging from online grocery delivery to digital consultations. Now, with everybody used to the convenience of products delivered at the click of a button, brands should accelerate building a strong online presence. New opportunities can arise for brands moving foward, but they must embrace technology to secure their future.