With retail and e-commerce forever evolving, the following trends will make a big impact on the future of retail as we know it:
Growth of Live Video Solves the Omnichannel Challenge
By 2021, live video will account for 82 per cent of the world’s internet traffic, an important factor to consider for companies engaging with consumers. Online customer interactions with sales staff via live video will solve the challenge retailers have with high traffic websites that yield much lower conversion rates than instore visits. Importantly, it will also bridge the gap between the online and offline experience. People still like to buy from people. And, enabling online customers to buy from people, via their phone or laptop, at their chosen time and place creates a massive opportunity for retailers to help address the challenges of time-pressed consumers, enabling them to find what they need faster and more conveniently.
Live Video Creates New Customer Facing Roles
Live video is adding a new dimension to the way brands engage with their customers. Sales staff roles will extend into providing more of a visual and audio experience for online and instore customers than simply carrying out a transaction, ultimately helping to improve customer experience and drive increased customer loyalty.
Stores Are Becoming Lifestyle Destinations
The bricks and mortar of retailing continues to change; shops and shopping malls will become lifestyle destinations. Customers will continue to research and make their purchase decisions online and still visit the store to immerse themselves in the brand experience. Live online product and brand demonstrations will be broadcast through shopping centres, stores and websites simultaneously, which will provide localised and personalised content and experiences for shoppers within shopping locations and in the comfort of their homes.
Live Video + Augmented Reality (AR) = Better Customer Experience
Live video featuring augmented reality will soon become the norm. Whilst the live video element still provides the human interaction, AR will provide product and brand information overlaid on the live video stream. For example, a sales person can show pricing and graphical measurements alongside the physical product in the live video. This extra information provides support to the sales person and importantly, helps the customer in making a purchase decision.
In the future, customer data will be used in real-time video to enhance the omni-channel customer experience. Customers are beginning to see the value in sharing their data, if in return they receive a personalised experience. For example, during an online live video shopping experience, the staff member can provide highlighted and discounted products using AR, all based on the customer’s previous purchases or preferences. Essentially, the sales person will be supported with the customer’s data to provide the best overall customer service using live video and personalised AR. The customer can then feel reassured that they have someone who can help them, alongside technology that personalises their online shopping experience.
André Hordagoda is co-founder of GoInStore