As English shops prepare to open next week, we've been thinking about what the ‘shopping experience’ will look like over the coming months.
During the last 12 months, we have done more online shopping than ever before. According to recent figures from the Office of National Statistics, internet sales, as a percentage of total UK retail sales, rocketed from 19.1% in February 2020, to 36.2% in November of the same year.
But, we were doing more online shopping anyway, right? So, are we desperate to get back into shops or will we just continue to buy online? Only time will tell. I, however, have a few things I am certainly excited about when it comes to the future of retail…
When creating my avatar in various different platforms, the clothing options are very limited but thankfully this looks set to change. Luxury high-end brands such as Stella McCartney and Burberry are some of the labels bringing their clothing into the virtual space and creating 3D digital clothes you can wear in a virtual world. Stella McCartney recently launched a range in Roblox and Burberry have recently announced they will be designing ‘Skins’ to be worn by game characters in the video game Honor of Kings. I’m sure it's only a matter of time before we see more digital assets infiltrating other platforms and giving us more ways to virtually appear stylish at a fraction of the cost of the physical products.
I’m looking forward to getting into a physical store and being inspired, taking my time to explore different looks, try on different outfits, see what works and what doesn’t. However, the question still remains, will the in-store experience be the same? Will we even be able to try on clothes? This is where technology can help. I look forward to more digital experiences in the store than enrich my shopping experience - replacing physical testers with AR assisted experiences, smart mirrors in every store, virtual shop assistants to help cater to my every whim. I look forward to a fun mix of a physical experience with lots of digital treats to play with.
Using AR I was able to check the exact size and shape of the bin and see how the bin would look in my kitchen. I’ll admit, not the most exciting purchase but the experience was made all the more efficient by the ‘view in the room’ option that lots of retailers are already offering. I’m excited about seeing more retailers offer this to consumers when buying online. Data shows that conversion rates are increasing anywhere from 10% to 200% when ‘view in the room’ functionality is used, plus product returns are dropping and time to make buying decisions has been cut in half so it certainly makes sense.
Ever had to design a bathroom or kitchen or any room at home? You might have found yourself having to get the tape measure out, if only you could remember when you last put it? Then measure the room which is definitely a two-person job and may even involve standing on a chair!? Dangerous. Surely there must be an easier way. What if you could use an app on your iPad to map out the room using LidAR sensors? Then have a chat with a virtual assistant or human who would help you plan out your new room all in the comfort of your home. Much easier. I am excited about this and its potential. Coming to a showroom near you soon.
If the physical shopping experience isn’t going to be the same, I’d like to see more investment in virtual stores. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is tired of the rows and rows of square boxes of clothes on a white background which is the standard eCommerce website. Brands like Charlotte Tilbury are paving the way for more exciting and engaging shopping experiences where you can watch product videos, chat to virtual assistants and browse products in a branded stylish environment. I’d like more of these, please.
If you’d like to hear more musings about the future of retail and how AR and VR can enhance the customer experience, do join us and our esteemed panel of guests for a webinar on Wednesday, April 21st at 16:00 BST, register here