What’s more, many people who started shopping online during the pandemic don’t plan to return to their old ways. A McKinsey survey revealed that 70% of U.S. consumers plan to continue shopping online or using “buy-online-pick-up-in-store” models even after the pandemic ends. So, how can online retailers bring experiential shopping to the digital realm?
It’s All About Social Media
The rebirth of experiential retail in the online space goes hand-in-hand with the increase of social shopping. Customers no longer want to shop in a vacuum. They want to feel like they are part of a community, part of a bigger experience. The more instagrammable your content is, the more likely shoppers are to engage with you, tag you, and use your branded hashtags to post about their purchases.
Online retailers can tap into a craving for community by building their social presence with content, videos and social polls and more. Produce interactive content that brings your products, and the people behind your brand, to life. Host live events in your stories. Bring that in-store experience to shoppers’ feeds with videos demonstrating how products look on models of all shapes and sizes. Tag your products in posts; enable social shopping on your accounts. Bottom line: get creative. Social media is the new mecca of experiential retail.
Pre-pandemic clothing retailer Lululemon was also known for its in-store workout classes and group meditation sessions. As people have grown accustomed to attending these events at home through their digital devices, it’s become the perfect opportunity for clothing brands to showcase their styles while engaging with consumers in a unique way. Similarly, children’s clothing brands can consider online crafts, story time or virtual playdates. High-end fashion brands are exploring ways to take runway shows digital. The goal is to get your customers to associate your brand with human-to-human connection, despite living in a virtual-first world.
Use Augmented Reality for Virtual Try-On
Many clothing retailers right now have blocked off the use of their fitting rooms to avoid having to remove clothing that’s been tried on from the racks and sanitize it. Most consumers, it seems, wouldn’t use fitting rooms even if they were open. A First Insight study revealed that 65% of women wouldn’t feel safe trying on clothes in a fitting room, while 66% said they wouldn’t feel safe working closely with a sales associate to make product recommendations.
In the absence of an in-store shopping experience to see how clothing looks, augmented reality is helping customers visualize how a particular size, style and color looks on them in real time. Technology overlays outfits across someone’s image in a camera, and moves with them, creating an augmented reality fitting room.
Leverage AI for Deeper Customer Insights That Power True Personalization
Often, customers often don’t know what they want until they see it. They’re just browsing. In a brick-and-mortar store, something may catch their eye. Online, it becomes more complicated. People don’t want to spend more time on your website than they need to (though they will scroll through social media for much longer, another reason to leverage social shopping in this age of ecommerce).
But as you do earn more customers, from social media or otherwise, who then come back to your website to re-engage with you, it’s important to learn as much about the emotional context behind their shopping behavior as you can. It’s also vital that your on-site search and your filters and facets are smart, functional and help shoppers find what they’re looking for.
Like a personal shopper who can see your body type, knows the occasion for your outfit, and can see what you’re gravitating toward in store, Lily AI’s sophisticated algorithm can make relevant product recommendations based on deep product data and customer intelligence. You can use this data to communicate more effectively with individual shoppers digitally, creating the feel of an entire experience versus simply making a purchase.
The Future of Experiential Retail Online
As brick-and-mortar retailers shift to delivering satisfactory online experiences and creating retail experiences that rival indoor shopping, state-of-the-art technology is the first step. Reach out to Lily AI about the power of deep personalization and connecting customers with what they want, before they even realize they need it.
Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing specialist who frequently writes about technology, e-commerce, and finance. She is the owner and founder of Geek Travel Guide, a travel and entertainment site for those with a passion for life.