Yes, we are now thinking of a post-COVID world. Many countries are and continue to suffer and we hope for their speedy deliverance but for the countries now emerging from the hibernation of last year, online business has changed, perhaps permanently. The single most important lesson for retailers and brands are that assets must be digitized to be fully useable. The businesses that used the down time to develop new ways of engaging with customers will emerge more resilient over the coming months and years.
Since early 2020, many brands have scrambling to improve their eCommerce platforms or even create a more integrated and viable online business. It was found that 80% of organizations had fast tracked their digital transformation in 2020, with many of finding many benefits as a result. Now that things are leveling off and we are celebrating our return to a more “normal” lifestyle, brands that have digitized will be able to give their consumers that 360 degree omni-channel experience. Digitization of assets is a broad set of actions to transform both physical assets such as items in stock and customer attributes into a database. This transformation allows retailers and brands to engage with service providers and speed adoption of new technologies.
How might this work in practice? If a business has spent the time to make a product feed with rich descriptions and clear images, companies like Delvify can offer accurate turn-key solutions using Visual AI to transform a product feed into into an iterative searchable customer experience. These assets do not need to be physical. Many of the leaders in PLM system management like Lectra, PTC, and Coats have been working to include 3D CAD systems in customer workflows and in some instances, businesses have used these assets to create virtual showrooms, and there is no reason to stop there. Some of these virtual assets can be used to test customer acceptance of styles and when you work with companies that include data analytics in their dashboard. You can compare existing products that are selling well with proposed changes to predict acceptance and sales growth.
Despite the demise of many retail brands and the problems in many malls in the USA and elsewhere, shopping remains an enjoyable experience…and unique and seamless experiences are exactly what shoppers will increasingly demand. Talking to knowledgeable sales staff, touching and feeling products and connecting emotionally to the brand is a seamless experience. This seamless experience can be helped by digitization to elevate shopping to premium experiences and picking up in store can be an opportunity to increase sales volumes. If sales staff are given digital tools that allow them to understand items that are likely to be also purchased, they can be empowered to deliver happiness. Digital tools should not remain solely onsite and accessibly only by site visitors.
As you may have guessed from the points above, business is now about creating emotional loyalty, not transactional loyalty. 59% of customers will care more about the experience they will have when deciding which company to do business with. Exclusive events in-shop and online for loyal customers can be a significant boost to this customer connection. In-store you can rely on well trained staff. For eCommerce, you must build as effective a digital team as the in-store team. This team should be empowered to create experiences. Product experiences tools like AR and product discovery tools like Visual Search improve the user journey and these tools are instantly available from technology companies. Your team does not need to build an entire AR system or train engineers to build, deploy and monitor deep learning models. There is plenty of work for digital teams to manage the integration of these tools and deploy them on site at the right time for the right customers and create the perfect customer experience.
“The customer is king”. This is an age-old phrase that many marketers are familiar with but this has never been more true in the post-pandemic era. It must come to no surprise that performance marketing is being used more for lead generation for a number of brands. Through the use of data and algorithms, we are able to understand our customers better than before. The CRM teams are working closer with their marketing and media teams to find out how to provide the best experience and personalization to their customers.
Delvify works with customers to build unique customer solutions. No two businesses have the same needs, and the parameters of the tools you use should match your customer strategy. Delvify’s AI tools, deployable from a central platform are customizable and easy to integrate. In a way, this is quite similar to using online dating apps. The use of Visual Search to help consumers find what they are looking for and providing personalized recommendations is like courting customers digitally as well. Let’s say Visual Search is the Tinder of being able to court customers online!