What most consumers today are deprived of the physical shopping experience they so cherished. Once upon a time, shop assistants were worth their weight in gold -as they sized consumers you up and customized their sales pitch for better experience and conversions. They could gauge your habits through basic profiling and prompting your needs as they observed you browsing. Since the coronavirus pandemic, this process has moved online at an abnormal speed.
“Since the lockdown, shopping habits have accelerated into the future. Digital is now king. Even though it’s been forced upon us, the coronavirus has done for eCommerce, what Apple’s iPhone did for mobile phones; it’s been a real paradigm shift. Online shopping is fast becoming the norm for all demographics across all retail verticals,” explains Abhishek Vohra, CEO, Okkular, a global technology leader in delivering exceptional shopping experiences.
“Some major brands have seen a 300 per cent growth in web traffic, reallocating resources to manage the expanding digital channels. Without a physical presence or availability in-store, there’s intense pressure on brands to create inspirational shopping experiences online,” concludes Vohra.
The marketplace of the masses:
The pandemic has especially seen online marketplaces such as Amazon or Alibaba thrive. These marketplaces were already at the forefront of providing a new shopping experience, amidst the pandemic their business models proved to stand the crisis and provided convenience, price and speed of delivery to customers at the time where access to physical was practically cut overnight. Every lockdown “click to purchase” has nudged these companies a little further toward the domination of online shopping as total e-commerce sales nearly doubled in May. As per Facteus, the average consumer spending on Amazon between May and July was up by 60% from the same time frame last year, as per the financial data firm. Amazon alone has 38% of the total e-commerce market.
The New eCommerce battleground
If history is a testament, economic crises have a way of creating winners and losers. During the Great Depression, Procter & Gamble thrived by doubling down on advertising; after the 2001 recession, Target expanded and saw profits grow by 50%. The pandemic has given rise to new habits with online shopping a norm metastasizing globally. UBS predicts that by 2025, e-commerce will make up one-quarter of total retail sales, up from 15% last year. The firm also estimates that 100,000 brick and mortar retail outlets will close in the next five years. “Consumers are increasingly shifting towards online shopping,” analysts wrote. “Many of these shoppers may not get back to in-store shopping when the current state is over.”
In response, the retail brands, rather than compete on the same touchpoints as Amazon or Alibaba should provide a transactional experience that has more to offer. Other retail brands can profit by investing in more profound connections with customers. The new eCommerce battleground will be run over-real-time emotional intelligence combined with a strong grasp of your product DNA. Improving the online customer experience is today paramount as eCommerce shifts up a gear by means of inspiring product discovery and enhancing brand experiences.
“Delivering a personalized shopper experience has been a struggle for most online platforms. Even with the progress in data science brands today have accomplished this without the context of what a shopper is seeking to achieve at any given moment. We’re still a long way from really engaging customers on an emotional level. To accomplish that retailers, need to know every shopper’s intent over…” says Mahendra Harish, Co-Founder, Okkular, which works with some of the biggest names in retail from Myers to Ballantynes to Kookai to ICE jewellery to name a few. “…The main issue is that most data for customer journeys is disconnected. It exists in silos. Relying on historical data isn’t enough, consolidating it with real-time data across the organization, systems, and teams are key to proving the unique user experience and a shopper’s engagement on a deeper tangible level.”
The pandemic has forced companies to pool data sources, boost collaboration across departments and in the process, understand consumer intent at every moment of a customer’s journey. Without a doubt, COVID-19 has greatly impacted shopping behaviour. Agility and pivoting seamlessly to cater to shoppers’ needs is crucial to for basic market survival. To survive an orchestrated approach is necessary – pooling together consumer psychology, machine-learning, merchandising and marketing, to understand the shoppers, their motivations and to predict the best next set of actions at every moment in real-time.
“Solely relying on analysing classical data points, on predicting purchases and clicks, to predict customer intent and action isn’t enough, but what must be brought under the lens is also the data that infers emotional needs like, what values are important to customers, what is their emotive state right now and what motivates them? Understanding a customer intent is vital as it evolves from moment to moment during shopping journeys. Artificial intelligence can now make sense of the data, with the right cocktail of algorithms to solve each problem.” said Ashwin Rao Founder and Chief Technical Officer, Okkular.io.
Nudge marketing, which has been used in consumer psychology, can also be used on a one-to-one level to enhance the individual shopper experience and prompt the customer to make an informed choice. While human expertise is still needed to help facilitate highly curated shopping experiences.
Okkular’s is a Visual AI platform built for retail and e-commerce. Our powerful visual AI can orchestrate the correct response to individual moments on the customer journey. It helps can boost customer conversion and improves the average order value, while at the same time provides a seamless customer experience.