Raydiant’s new series, the Future of Shopping, interviews experts and thought leaders with a goal of better understanding what organizations can do to prepare themselves for what lies ahead.
The following is an interview we recently had with Amal Jomaa, Head of Fashion at SO REAL Digital Twins AG.
How has consumer shopping behavior evolved over the past 5 years?
Advances in technology and prevalence of the use of smartphones have vastly changed the way consumers approach shopping, both in store and online. This has resulted in a significant shift in the expectations and demands of consumers, who are now better informed than ever before. Today we are all empowered by the enormous amount of information and online offering, accessible anywhere, anytime. This has brought a significant change to the way we engage and consume products.
The way we browse and discover brands has shifted to online channels and e-commerce has evolved from offering of convenience to offering new modes of engagement. This has led to the rise of direct-to-consumer brands and companies built entirely on social media, powered by new means of communication. Those platforms offer brands a direct access to their consumers, where they can engage and convey their message. In return, customers are now spoiled by choice, more than ever, meaning their behavior is increasingly demanding shopping as experiencing rather than purchasing products as a mere commodity.
What are the top 3 trends shaping the ways consumers shop?
Need for experience:The retail landscape has never evolved so fast, driven by the increasing consumer demand for a more meaningful relationship with products. And technology is leading the transformation, away from purely services-based focus to a new way of approaching shopping as a means for deeper engagement with brands and their offering. Advances in technologies like 3D, augmented and virtual reality present a new paradigm of exciting opportunities for immersive experiences, both online and offline. VR has the potential to transform the flat 2D e-commerce presentation format into an exciting interactive experience, while AR could enhance brick and mortar offline shopping by overlaying a digital layer onto the physical world, both as discoverability utility as well as engaging, gamified content.
Growth of e-commerce: The growth of ecommerce has accelerated exponentially in the last year and the shift is consumer behavior preference is likely to continue, as more shoppers become accustomed to the convenience of shopping online. But for many customers those benefits are still outwaited by the limitation of experiencing the product in real life. Those limitations could be overcome by 3D product visualization, that allow customers to inspect and engage in a completely new way. This shift to experience-commerce is key for brands to differentiate themselves and present their offerings in an immersive and interactive way.
Power of mobile: Mobile devices such as tablets, smartphones and very soon even smart glasses are becoming omnipresent as shopping portals and as valuable research tool for online and offline purchase decision making. This gives brands the opportunity to leverage the use of those devices as a tool for engaging experiences as well. AR can help customers to better understand a product by having a 3D visualization that they can inspect from every angle as well as to see how a product fits into their lives, or even on themselves via virtual try-on. Implementation of those technologies boots engagement and conversation rates, increase confidence and diminish returns, all resulting in a better customer experience and likelihood of consumer loyalty.
What’s the future of shopping?
The future of shopping revolves around experiential commerce. The past few decades new offering centered around differential factors like quality and positioning, but as the market has gotten oversaturated with products from every category and price point, consumer attitudes have shifted from purchasing products as mere commodities for their utility towards a demand for more meaningful shopping engagement.
New emerging technologies enabled by 3D have the potential to unlock limitless opportunities for immersive and engaging shopping experiences: from recreating the physical stores online in VR to serendipitous and entertaining AR filters, that enhance the offline spaces. These tools offer brands a new way to communicate and entice their consumers, as well as serve as a harnessing method for a vast trove of data, that could inform and enrich companies’ insights and decision making.
What are 3 actionable steps an organization can take to prepare for the future?
Step one: Get information about emerging technologies.Preparing for the future isn’t a one-solution-fits-all kind of endeavor. Any organization needs to carefully review emerging technologies, compare different providers and their benefits, and select the ones that are the best fit. This requires considering consumer behavior insights and technological understanding to find a solution that would help companies leverage their investment and enhance their offering.
Step two: Adopt those technologies. Implementation and investment in new technologies might seem risky and burdensome. But in the long run, they safeguard and futureproof any business. Venturing into the unknown with knowledgeable and trustworthy technology partners is the only way forward. Some elements are less unknown, like considering 3D to be a natural progression from 2D.
Step three: Experiment and adapt. The only way to turn hypothesis into actual knowledge is to experiment and adapt as you go. Therefore, it is advisable to start with a small pilot project that could serve as a testing ground and first and later become a blueprint of successful deployment for a larger scale technological integration.