The growing demand for ecommerce and innovative digital offerings continues to thrive among consumers as the coronavirus pandemic persists. A recent survey found that 68% of consumers credit COVID-19 for “elevating their expectations of companies’ digital capabilities.” Additionally, the survey showed that “61% [of consumers] expect to spend more time online after the pandemic than before it hit, and 60% said the pandemic is changing their relationships with technology.”
Despite brick-and-mortar stores reopening, many consumers are still hesitant to return to the traditional in-store shopping experience. In response to these evolving trends and consumer preferences and expectations, technology brands are launching innovative digital ecommerce platforms that offer a social component in order to help consumers feel connected while socially distancing.
Wormhole Leverages Avatars To Re-Create The In-Store Shopping Experience
Innovative technology platform Wormhole is part of the fast-growing digital shopping trend, leveraging avatars and advanced graphics to replicate real-life shopping. According to the tech company, Wormhole connects “elements of interaction, gaming and online shopping in one place.”
Through an immersive social experience, users receive notifications on the Wormhole platform letting them know when other users are shopping — either in-store or online. Users, or avatars, are then “brought together” to enjoy the shopping experience as a group. The platform allows shoppers to chat amongst themselves about the items they are browsing, comparison shop and more, just as if they were together in real-time in a retail store. “What Wormhole does – and what digital shopping needs – is something very natural that doesn’t make consumers change behaviors, doesn’t make them buy a bunch of hardware,” said Curtis Hutten, Wormhole CEO.
During a time when consumers are seeking safe alternatives to the traditional in-store experience, Wormhole presents a contactless way to connect with friends and fulfill the in-person experience so many are missing.
CommentSold Connects Consumers With Live Streaming Sales Events
Live streaming sales events have grown in popularity in the U.S. in recent months, with predictions showing that by 2023, these events could hit nearly $25 billion, according to MarketWatch reporter Tonya Garcia. CommentSold, a digital commerce platform for retailers looking to sell their products via “live and social selling,” recently enhanced its live-selling feature on the company’s mobile app. Called Live Replay, the new feature allows retailers to make previously recorded live streams available for viewing on demand to all consumers — extending the potential shopping period for consumers who may not have been able to watch the video during its original air date. “With the launch of Live Replay and other expanded app functionality, we’re helping our retail partners meet this demand for mobile shopping and access what is essentially another revenue stream,” said Brandon Kruse, CEO of CommentSold.
In addition to the launch of Live Replay, CommentSold also introduced “in-video checkout,” giving consumers a seamless checkout experience without needing to exit a live stream or replay a brand’s video multiple times. Viewers can now also chat among each other during live events, providing a sense of connection simulating the feeling of consumers physically shopping together. “You’re excited because your friends are there. You’re interacting first and shopping second,” noted Kruse.
As consumers continue to crave connection during a very isolated time, technologies like CommentSold are experiencing an uptick in users, as they provide a safe environment for shoppers who are still looking to socialize. This year, CommentSold experienced a major spike in retailers employing its platform to sell products, rising by 270%. Additionally, the amount of money spent by viewers has also improved since the start of the year, increasing by 50%.
The Yes App Offers Personalization Through A Virtual Department Store Experience
In May 2020 – during the thick of the pandemic – an innovative shopping app called The Yes was launched, giving consumers a “virtual department store” while so many were stuck at home. Using machine learning and AI, The Yes learns the likes and dislikes of each consumers’ styles and provides shoppers with personalization and a variety of options, all through a seamless online experience. “Personalization has been the elusive promise of shopping for a long time, since the beginning of ecommerce,” notes The Yes Founder, Julie Bornstein.
Once shoppers take a style survey on the app, they are shown clothing options from more than 150 brands and given the option to select “yes” or “no” on any given product. Shoppers can then show off their “Yes list” among friends or fellow users of the app. “You went to a department store because it offered something different from going to a brand’s own store,” said Bornstein. “Our thesis is that the same is true in the digital world. There’s always going to be room for a multi-brand experience, as long as it’s a fun, seamless one.”
The likelihood of consumers gravitating toward more personalized and online shopping experiences is high as we enter into the holiday shopping season. All signs lead to this trend continuing into 2021 and beyond, with 58% of consumers anticipating they will spend more time shopping online in the future than they did prior to the pandemic. “We don’t believe the shift to online shopping will reverse when the pandemic ends because consumers are developing new shopping habits,” noted UBS analysts. “Technology will continue to improve, making online channels more attractive shopping options for consumers.”
While consumers continue to seek out connection and innovative and seamless ways to shop online, brands and retailers should consider incorporating social components into their ecommerce strategies as a means of engaging with consumers and driving sales. By incorporating these advanced technologies, brands and retailers have an opportunity to bring shoppers together and connect with prospective customers right where they are — online.
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