Opinion

Smart technology and the transformation of immersive shopping

Alexandra Martin

,

06.04.2021

immersive shopping

We’re in a midst of a rapidly evolving digital era, consumers are shopping online more than ever because of both changing needs and a global pandemic. Brands need to adapt their strategy to ensure they’re still appealing to their audience and create a more immersive shopping experience. 

73% of customers will spend more money and time in stores offering experiences, whilst 90% of clients report to having a positive feeling about a brand after attending an engaging brand event. So, what does this mean for brands? Using smart technology for immersive shopping experiences is transforming the sector, and no longer a futuristic pipe dream. With retail adopting measures like AR, VR and more personalised experiences for consumers, we’re seeing a huge shift – modern consumers expect seamless experiences and for brands they interact with, to prioritise them.

For brands that aren’t afraid to experiment with new technologies, they’re likely to engage new customer bases, stand out from the competition, and ultimately see a return on their investment. Brands that are a little more wary of new technology to market and manage stores will ultimately be left behind as the new consumer flocks to the experience they crave. 

What is an immersive shopping experience?

Brands need to be able to provide a shopping experience that isn’t limited to just the physical stores. To sell their product effectively, they need to be working towards an omnichannel approach, using physical stores and information to appeal to the more traditional consumer, but supplementing this with a slick digital offering. We’re seeing this across the retail space, as clothing and furniture companies experiment with new technologies and personalised shopping experiences, it’s only a matter of time before all our shopping experiences become ‘smart’. 

An immersive shopping experience is designed to boost interactions between consumers and your brand. If you can provide an experience that enables them to engage with your product and enjoy themselves, then you’ve nailed customer satisfaction, showcased your brand and likely comfortably positioned your organisation at the forefront of their minds for a future engagement.

Staffless stores and the ‘rise of the robot’

Another intriguing immersive shopping experience is driven by advances in technology and ecommerce – the OMO (or Online-Merge-Offline) store. In 2018 Amazon launched staffless store ‘Amazon Go’ (or ‘Amazon Fresh’ in the UK), and BingoBox uses the same model, with more than 300 locations across China. These stores rely on QR codes, phone apps, and smart shopping technology to provide convenience stores that are .. convenient. Shoppers can walk in, drop their items into their (smart) basket, and walk out, with their items charged directly to their app / Amazon account. 



With smarter apps and tech available to the retail market, it’s not a great stretch to believe that these staffless stores could become the shopping experience of the future – bolstered with AR and VR to market products, we could see a completely immersive experience for shoppers, where brands have an ability to personalise their offering to align with a more satisfactory customer experience. 

Understanding customer behaviours in a more meaningful way

It’s easy to see the above methods and dream of the AI-led, futuristic shopping experience that awaits us. For brands, features like VR, or staffless stores, could mean that their marketing stands out more, and that they can save on overheads through using apps and smarter systems to enable ordering. However, it’s clear that developments in new technology could ultimately have a huge impact on the way that brands communicate, engage and connect with their customers – via a deeper understanding of the way that they shop, what they want to see from brands, and what they value most in a brand interaction. By using smarter technologies and interactive experiences, we start to see a clear pattern in what the consumer of today wants: personalisation. 

OMO stores don’t necessarily have to be staffless, but can be any store that combines the physical with the digital, and offers a more omnichannel, tech-driven sales and marketing approach. Take for example Chanel’s first OMO store, ‘Atelier Beauté CHANEL’ in New York – this cutting-edge boutique encourages customers to ditch their possessions and browse with just their smartphone in hand. Using their device, they can like or dislike items, find out more about the products, and either purchase there and then or arrange delivery to their homes. Using the data provided, the store doesn’t just recommend other products that complement their ‘likes’, but can in future use targeted marketing to entice them to purchase repeatedly. The technology isn’t just limited to one store, either – other Chanel boutiques globally can use the model, and know exactly what each customer needs. Once the consumer has visited the boutique, they can walk into any Chanel store in the world, and staff can advise based on skin type, tone, and purchase history – just via this model. 

We’ve seen this model crop up time and time again recently in the retail industry, and it’s likely that this will be the shopping experience of the future. After all, what brand wouldn’t want to have a full profile of each customer in the palm of their hands? With the data that an immersive shopping experience provides, they can inform future product releases, inspire campaigns, and provide an outstanding customer experience. Smart technologies like AR and IoT are revolutionising digital marketing and how consumers and brands interact. At a pivotal point where offline and online worlds are colliding; smart technology looks to be leading the way. 


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How to get more from your brand’s digital marketing strategy 

When major disruption happens, we all must quickly find ways to adapt to thrive. Brands that have been quick to adopt a digital transformation strategy and put customers at the forefront of their business will have navigated the pandemic with more ease and agility than those that were slow to change. But what now? Knowing how to best use marketing budgets right now can be challenging, we’ve created a programme to help brands get ahead faster during this period, learn more about our Transformation Sprint or contact us for a chat about how we can help your brand grow.

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