The world is a dramatically different place than it was at the beginning of 2020. The global pandemic impacted every aspect of life, and businesses had to adapt to a new way of working and adjust their approach to suit consumer demand. Retail was significantly affected in the wake of COVID-19 as forced closures halted in-person shopping, and customers began finding alternative ways to make transactions. Within the space of a year, consumer behavior moved from 2020 to 2030, leading brands to move with the times and find imaginative and creative ways to satisfy the new consumer age.
In the last decade, online shopping has remained relatively stagnant regarding how much technology has advanced. The majority of retailers had standard shoppable 2D grid interfaces displaying apparel, makeup, accessories, and more. But in the current landscape, this simply isn’t enough to keep consumers engaged and connected to their brand. Suppose companies don’t scale up their digital efforts and invest in technology to retain consumers and provide a personalized experience. In that case, they risk losing customers to the highest bidder, given the abundant options they are faced with.
In recognizing this threat, many brands and retailers began looking for viable options that would align with their brand, cater to the new wave of consumers and invest in a program that would set them apart in the long term. This is where ByondXR was inundated with companies trying to get in touch and partner with us to transform their brand into a virtual, shoppable environment. These experiences are very much consumer-focused, and their interactive elements expel feelings of absence from in-person shopping. From browsing a life-like storefront, interacting with virtual shopping assistants, and even participating in live tutorials from experts, customers have a re-imagined way of shopping without having to leave the comfort and safety of their homes.
Another key investment area for online shopping has been video calls with shopping assistants. Considering video chatting has become an integral form of communication throughout the pandemic, consumers are expected to utilize this to receive customer service and make purchases as if they were in a physical store. However, considering the constant innovations made in online shopping, we should expect to see video chats being embedded within virtual programs, allowing consumers to access everything in one place.
The digital transformation and mobile technology are among the great catalysts that have triggered the rewiring of consumer shopping habits. Everything can be accessed and purchased through the click of a finger, enabling consumers to go on with their day without having to run to the shops and wait in lines. With more time spent on the Internet during the pandemic, companies had to capitalize upon this and convert their business model to accommodate. Even when they are not shopping, staying connected with the customer is a key strategy in retaining business and aligning with the brand. Leveraging digital efforts on online platforms through giveaways, games, and information on safety guidelines are important ways to understand the customer and gain valuable insights to personalize their experience for the future.
It has become clear that online shopping experiences are here to stay in the post-COVID era. We are living in a consumer-centric world whereby customer experience and instant gratification are integral components of customer value and loyalty. Consumers have become accustomed to the ease and seamless nature of shopping online and having products shipped straight to their homes, eliminating the need to travel and uphold health and safety precautions that will undoubtedly still be somewhat enforced. The digital transformation of retail has taken a quantum leap in the last year and shows no signs of slowing down. The response to virtual experiences in online shopping has been overwhelmingly positive, and according to Technavio, the market is expected to grow by $125 billion within the next four years.
We are excited that our vision for the future of virtual retail and innovative online shopping is coming to fruition. Customer experience has taken on a new definition since the pandemic began, and those who accept this new normal and adapt will stand the test of time.
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