Ubiquitous shopping: Why this trend is set to transform the next phase of retail
Technologies such as virtual reality, digital voice assistants and the proliferation of social networks are transforming how Australian brands connect with customers around the world. These new channels are driving customer expectations for personalised, relevant and meaningful shopping experiences.
The retail industry is being disrupted and is constantly evolving, and if retailers don’t provide an omnichannel experience they will be left behind.
To remain relevant and win over customers, Australian retailers need to understand what motivates their most profitable customers. And to do that, retailers are beginning to explore and implement technologies that enable the ubiquitous and ultra-personal shopping experiences which these customers expect.
The question is: are today’s Australian retailers maximising the opportunity?
According to a recent Accenture survey, two-thirds of industry executives view online commerce as the driving characteristic of ubiquitous shopping, and over half cite mobile purchases as key. While, just a third say new technology like voice commerce is top of mind.
The positive is that retailers understand the scale of the disruption facing commerce, namely, image commerce such as Instagram, immersive technologies, digital voice assistants and they have made themselves available on these channels. A clear majority of retail executives believe ubiquitous shopping represents a complete transformation or significant change for the industry.
Social networks providing direct brand connections
Social media continues to be a disruptor in targeting today’s consumers, who are spending a great deal of time in these channels and want to be able to purchase directly, through the click of a button. According to our research, more than 62 per cent of social media users are influenced to make a purchase through social media.
Now, more than ever, it’s imperative for retailers to further rethink and redesign their digital shopping capabilities and methods so they can meet customers on their terms. Australian retailers risk losing market traction, relevance and most importantly, the engagement of their customer if they fail to allow customers to directly communicate with them through their chosen channel – whether this be Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.
For example, PayPal Australia launched Bae, a Facebook Messenger bot that helps Australian millennials discover quirky and bespoke online fashion retailers from all corners of the world. The virtual assistant is setting a new standard for customer engagement, enabling users to engage with the with the brand the same way they would with their friends. The frictionless way this allows customers to engage not only reinforces the potential for engagement, but also serves as a competitive advantage, through differentiated experience.
Engaging through immersive technology
Immersive technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) superimpose computer-generated images and content onto real-world environments, enhancing a user’s perception of reality by combining physical and virtual elements.
These technologies present many advantages for the Australian retail industry. It is easy to use, engaging and overcomes the challenge of merging physical experiences with digital content. Along the way, it creates brand awareness and boosts customer engagement in an exciting way and importantly, it allows Australian retailers to provide ultra-personal customer experiences using branded apps.
For example, Estee Lauder uses AR to help customers test out their lipsticks without even getting out of bed. The company collaborated with Modiface, a group that creates AR services for the beauty industry to produce a new Facebook Messenger chatbot that uses customers’ cameras to let them virtually try on the brand’s Pure Colour Lipsticks.
Digital assistance from anywhere
Voice recognition technologies are also acquiring an ever-stronger foothold in retail, taking the commercial battleground right into the heart of consumers’ homes. One in every five households with a wireless internet connection is already using a smart speaker, and it will only continue proliferating consumers. For example, Amazon’s personal assistant, Alexa, will order anything you need with a single voice command. Alexa will also make recommendations based on previous purchase history, what’s popular.
Now is the time for Australian retailers to invest in the technologies that will that will help them identify and cultivate the high-lifetime-value customers that drive growth. Retailers need to explore and invest in immersive technologies, social networks and digital voice assistants to ensure they provide their consumers with the experiences they deserve and expect. It is time to liberate the retail experience by enabling “ubiquitous shopping” — Australian consumers buying anything they want, anytime, anywhere, in any way they choose.
Michelle Grujin is the retail lead for Accenture in Australia and New Zealand.