Digital retail surfaced in 1995 with the birth of Amazon. At the time, only 3% of Americans had ever used the internet. Fast-forward twenty-five years and anyone would agree that our digital shopping habits look much, much different.
From plants and food to clothes and cars, consumers can buy practically anything they want from online retailers on the internet.
While eCommerce continues to grow in popularity (and, for a variety of health and accessibility-based reasons, necessity), physical stores are leveraging new, powerful ways to connect with shoppers.
Moreover, retailers transforming their business models to fuel both channels, attract more customers, and create unforgettable shopping and user experiences. This, in short, is digital retail.
Digital retail is the process of employing both online and in-person commerce efforts to attract, educate, and convert consumers wherever they are in the customer journey. It refers to consumer-centric strategies that deliver personalized customer experiences with digital tools.
Digital retail is less about websites, social media, mobile devices, or the internet; it’s more about how these factors work together to create smart, seamless retail solutions and shopping experiences.
Where early eCommerce focused on convenience and scalability, today’s digital retail will see a revival of personalization and customized services — fueled by digital tools.
Digital Retail Trends
Below we discuss a few key digital retail trends to follow and implement for your business.
1. Omnichannel Shopping
Your eCommerce channel doesn’t have to compete with your brick-and-mortar stores. In fact, these two should be allies who work together — your website and other digital efforts can drive in-store traffic and vice versa.
This relationship is particularly important in today’s retail industry as consumers transition between devices and channels: they open your sales email on their smartphone, research your products on their desktop, and visit your local store location to make a purchase — or purchase the product via online shopping and pick it up at your store. Melding your online and offline channels can also help you capture a more complete picture of your customers and their shopping habits, allowing you to better serve them on both fronts.
An omnichannel strategy allows these transitions to happen seamlessly. As more and more consumers adopt these cross-platform habits, providing this flexibility can allow you to interact through more consumer touchpoints and retain more customers.
2. Virtual Shopping and Styling
Consumers shop in all kinds of ways. Right now, many can’t or won’t enter stores … but that doesn’t have to change the way your team serves them. To bring the store experience into the home, virtual styling and consultation opportunities are on the rise across the retail industry.
With tools like Zoom, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, and the good ol’ phone call, retail teams are able to educate and share their expertise with customers from the comfort of their homes — thus digitally fueling even more of the customer journey.
3. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
Retailers can also bring their products and services into consumers’ homes with the help of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and other artificial intelligence tools. These digital tools can help narrow the gap between the online and in-person shopping experiences, especially for industries with products that can’t be easily moved or returned.
Companies like IKEA have employed VR tools to help customers picture their furniture purchases in their home in real-time, without having to purchase the physical product first. Car companies like Volvo have also tried out VR for test drives, although those efforts are still being improved.
While eCommerce isn’t a new concept, today’s digital retail encompasses much more than that. In fact, the digital transformation has become remarkably more human — and more important than ever. Consider adding Endear to your digital retail arsenal to better track your omnichannel strategy, provide personal styling recommendations, and bring your customers back, both online and in your retail stores.