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Fashion’s infatuation with AR continues, but only certain use cases inspire consumer engagement

Glossy – As fashion brands are embracing augmented reality, the question remains of whether there is an actual appetite for such tools or if brands are pushing them in spite of apathy from consumers.

Over the past few years, augmented reality has become a powerfully appealing idea among Silicon Valley elites and marketing teams across industries, and some reports put the AR market at $83 billion by 2021. What’s more, a number of new AR-powered initiatives from brands in streetwear, luxury and mass fashion show that the fashion industry has confidence in the technology, but how much of that enthusiasm is reciprocated by consumers?

“The retail categories that are best suited for augmented reality are those with products that are very visual, like apparel and cosmetics, and those that are expensive to display in multiple assortments of style and color, such as furniture and décor items,” said Jeffrey Neville, svp and practice lead at BRP Consulting Firm. “Since approximately 50 percent of consumers say they are more likely to shop at retailers that offer augmented reality, it is something retailers should be evaluating.”

Read full article: Fashion’s infatuation with AR continues, but only certain use cases inspire consumer engagement

Customer identification is key to personalization—yet most are anonymous until checkout

Bulldog Reporter – Customer identification is the first step necessary to personalize the shopping experience, yet most in-store shoppers are anonymous until they check out. According to the newly released 2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey from retail management consulting firm BRP, only 13 percent of retailers identify customers when they walk in the store and another 10 percent identify customers pre-checkout. Retailers fare better online, as 30 percent identify customers when they enter the website and another 30 percent identify customers pre-checkout.

“While most online retailers are able to identify customers early in the browsing process in order to create a more personalized experience, identifying customers in the store continues to be a challenge for most brick-and-mortar retailers,” said Ryan Grogman, senior vice president at BRP, in a news release.”

Read Full Article: Customer identification is key to personalization—yet most are anonymous until checkout

Why Should Retailers use Augmented or Virtual Reality?

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual (VR) offer new and enhanced ways for customers to experience products, like visualizing how a product would look in their home or even on their body.

Consumers see the benefit of VR and AR, as nearly half of consumers are more likely to shop at a retailer utilizing virtual or augmented reality, according to a recent study by Incisiv, sponsored by BRP and Windstream Enterprise.[1]As consumers shop for a new couch or bedroom set, it is very helpful to see what the furniture will look like in their house or browse a virtual array of options like colors and fabrics, rather than just viewing in a catalog or on a website – and VR and AR apps can make it happen.

Many retailers have already introduced AR apps and testing and deployment of VR apps is increasing. VR and AR offer interesting applications and opportunities, as the ability to mix virtual and real elements can be game changing – especially for furniture, home décor and apparel retailers. According to BRP’s 2018 Digital Commerce Survey, retailers understand the impact that VR and AR can have on the customer experience and 32% of retailers plan to use virtual and augmented reality within three years.

Macy’s is a recent example, as they’re currently rolling out a new virtual reality experience across 70 locations, combined with an AR app for home use, to offer an immersive furniture shopping experience that allows browsing and visualization of a much larger assortment of furniture than a typical store. Sephora’s “Virtual Artist” app uses AR to scan your face, figure out where your lips and eyes are, and lets you try different looks on your smartphone. Foot Locker’s “The Hunt” AR scavenger hunt inspired smartphone-toting sneakerheads to venture across Los Angeles to unlock geo-targeted AR clues throughout the city earning the chance to be among the first to acquire new limited-edition LeBron 16 King “Court Purple” sneakers. As more and more retailers adopt VR or AR technology over the next few years, this will increase customers’ expectations for the same from other retailers that they shop.

Immersive technology like VR and AR is redefining the way consumers can experience and buy products, leveraging the advantages of physical space, like the store or the customer’s home, without being constrained by the space. Traditional retail lines continue to blur as retail realities are rapidly evolving and the stage where the theater of retail takes place can be dictated by the customer.

I encourage you to read the 2018 Digital Commerce Survey for more insights:

Download Now

As always, I appreciate your thoughts and opinions on this topic.  Please share your feedback below.

Brian

[1]Retail’s Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Shopper Expectations, July 24, 2018. https://brpconsulting.com/download/2018-retail-research-report/

Retailers Adding Virtual, Augmented Reality

AI & IoT Daily – About a third of retailers are planning to implement augmented and virtual reality in the future, according to a new study.

Four percent of retailers say they already have implemented virtual reality but that it needs improvement, according to the digital commerce benchmarking survey by BPR, retail consulting firm, comprising a survey of leading retailers.

For the future, 28% of retailers plan to implement virtual reality, 7% of them within the next 12 months and 21% within the next one to three years.

Read full article: Retailers Adding Virtual, Augmented Reality

Customer identification remains a challenge for retailers, reveals survey

Retail Customer Experience – Just 23 percent of brick-and-mortar retailers are able to identify a customer prior to checkout, compared to 60 percent of online retailers and the inability is likely thwarting the customer personalization effort.

According to BRP 2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey, 13 percent of brick-and-mortar retailers identify a customer when they enter a store and 10 percent identify the customer pre-checkout.

“While most online retailers are able to identify customers early in the browsing process in order to create a more personalized experience, identifying customers in the store continues to be a challenge for most brick-and-mortar retailers,” said Ryan Grogman, senior vice president, BRP Retail Consulting Firm, in the release.

Read Full Article: Customer identification remains a challenge for retailers, reveals survey

Virtual and Augmented Reality Enter Retailers

Convenience Store Decisions – Some 32% of retailers expect to add virtual and augmented reality in the next three years. Nearly 50% of consumers are more likely to shop at retailers that offer virtual or augmented reality, according to a BRP, retail consulting report. Through virtual (VR) and augmented reality (AR), innovative retailers are offering new and enhanced ways for customers to experience products, like visualizing how a product would look in their home or even on their body. VR and AR offer interesting applications and opportunities, as the ability to mix virtual and real elements can be game changing – especially for furniture, home décor and apparel retailers.

According to BRP’s 2018 Digital Commerce Survey, retailers understand the impact that VR and AR can have on the customer experience and 32% of retailers plan to use virtual and augmented reality within three years.

Read Full Article: Virtual and Augmented Reality Enter Retailers

Consumers embracing AR, VR

Chain Store Age – Customers increasingly want to shop with retailers that offer augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

This was according to the “2018 Digital Commerce Study” from BRP, retail consulting firm. The study reported that 48% of customers would be more likely to shop at a retailer that utilizes augmented or virtual reality. Many retailers have already introduced AR apps and testing and deployment of VR apps is increasing. And 32% of retailers plan to use AR and VR within three years, respectively.

AR and VR offer new and enhanced ways for customers to experience merchandise, like visualizing how a product would look in their home or even on their body. Both technologies offer interesting applications and opportunities, as the ability to mix virtual and real elements can be game changing – especially for furniture, home décor and apparel retailers.

“Immersive technology like VR and AR is redefining the way consumers can experience and buy products, leveraging the advantages of physical space, like the store or the customer’s home, without being constrained by the space,” said Brian Brunk, principal, BRP. “Traditional retail lines continue to blur as retail realities are rapidly evolving and the stage where the theater of retail takes place can be dictated by the customer.”

Read full article: Consumers embracing AR, VR

Why catalogs still have a hold on holiday marketing

Retail Dive – Many retailers have turned into fourth-quarter catalogers to cash in on the season’s sentimentality, while shoppers are crossing “irrelevant email marketing” off their lists this year.

Catalogs might be aimed at inspiration, but the hope is that the visual inspiration leads to a purchase, whether it be through the catalog, online or through a visit to the store. In that way, catalogs aren’t too different from the showroom format that retailers like Bonobos rely on, according to Ken Morris, a principal at Boston Retail Partners. It’s a trend he calls “catalog rooming” — where a customer uses a retailer’s holiday catalog to discover products and then heads into the store to see it in person and try it on, either finishing the purchase there or coming home to buy it online. 

It’s also a way to bring customers who might not have shopped in a while back into the fold, as retailers generally send out their holiday catalogs to a broader array of shoppers than they do the rest of the year. As long as they’re making $0.20 on every dollar they spend on a customer, the catalog will keep coming, Morris says — and the holidays provide more potential than the rest of the year for a big profit.

“Some of them, they’re in the red for nine months of the year and then the final three months of the year they go into the black and start to make a profit and hopefully that covers the loss,” Morris said, noting that depending on how sophisticated the retailer is, catalogs might also be tailored, placing a customer in one of a certain number of categories with different material in each. “It’s to the demographic that I fit into because they know what I buy — they know what’s in my closet, they know what’s in your closet.”

Read Full Article: Why catalogs still have a hold on holiday marketing

A Personalized Brand Experience Across Digital Channels is Imperative

Consumers now start and stop their shopping journey in different channels, including online marketplaces and social media, and frequently shop for the same product across different retailers, both online and in the store. Consumers don’t think in terms of channels, they think in terms of brands and experiences.

According to the 2018 Digital Commerce Survey, 51% of consumers feel it is important to get a personalized experience across all digital channels within a brand.

The good news is that retailers recognize the importance of the cross-channel, personalized customer experience, as their top digital customer experience priorities are creating a consistent brand experience across channels (57%) and improving personalization (38%).

The challenge for retailers is to “keep up” with continually evolving customer expectations. The growth of mobile is driving demand for increased digital capabilities bundled with personalization in the store. The gap between consumer demand for digital experiences and retailers’ current capabilities is what we call the “great digital divide,” and is driving additional changes in the industry.

The new retail model requires retailers to transform their business and reinvent themselves to create a successful blend of the physical and digital worlds to maintain their customers’ loyalty. New and innovative methods of shopping – driven by mobile technology, artificial intelligence and rapidly changing fulfillment methods – are elevating customer expectations. The speed of these changes requires organizational agility to quickly and easily react to increasing customer expectations and changing consumer behavior.

I encourage you to download and read the 2018 Digital Commerce Survey for more insights on the cross channel digital experience:

Download Now

As always, I appreciate your insights on this topic.  Please share your feedback and opinions below.

 

Jeffrey

Shopping experiences must be personalized across channels: BRP

Luxury Daily – As the lines between physical and digital stores continues to blur, retailers need to personalize shopping experiences beyond in-store and continue to create consistent brand experiences online.

A new report from Boston Retail Partners, retail consulting firm, finds that 51 percent of consumers want a personalized experience across all digital channels within a brand. Currently, less than a fifth of retailers use customer-identifying technology in their stores, pointing to the potential for more customized engagement.

“To engage with the customer and personalize their experience, retailers need to quickly and easily identify the customer,” Jeffrey Neville, senior vice president and practice lead at Boston Retail Partners. “Identifying the customer as they enter the store – via their smartphone, beacon or other technology – affords the retailer the opportunity to personalize the customer’s shopping experience.”

Three-quarters of consumers use digital tools prior to their in-store visit, and 46 percent use mobile devices while shopping at bricks-and-mortar stores. Almost a quarter of retailers surveyed named improving mobile shopping experiences as their top priority.

Creating a consistent brand experience across channels is the top digital priority for retailers, and was named as a focus by 57 percent of respondents. Thirty-eight percent of retailers also cited wanting to improve customer loyalty, personalization and user experience.

However, retailers cannot improve personalization efforts without first identifying individual shoppers. Seventy-nine percent of respondents plan to introduce technology to better identify customers within the next three years, while 76 percent plan to integrate geolocation to improve how promotions are sent to customers.

Read Full Article: Shopping experiences must be personalized across channels: BRP