Are virtual retail experiences the new way forward?

The retail industry is ever-changing – from the products available to the methodology used to engage consumers.

One of the most significant shifts in recent years has been the rapid growth in the use of technology in widespread marketing strategies.

Virtual retail experiences are now used to enable shoppers to try, view and experience products from the comfort of their homes. Digital practises such as virtual product demonstrations and online masterclasses can offer fully immersive experiences and are becoming an increasingly popular choice when engaging with customers of today and the future.

Such dramatic change has rendered the retail landscape almost unrecognisable from how it appeared less than twenty years ago. So, why are virtual retail experiences becoming more prominent? And what can they offer to consumers, old and new?

Tailored virtual demonstrations

If there is one thing that almost every consumer misses from physical shopping trips, it’s the tangible and interactive experiences that they promise – particularly the demonstrations designed to showcase a specific product or service.

However, it’s not all bad news. Product demonstrations are not exclusive to physical presence and, as such, virtual platforms can host similar, if not the same, experience via remote means. Not only that, these experiences can be further designed to enhance consumer engagement – from introducing subtitles to aid communication to providing follow up information to further engage.

From online masterclasses and virtual product demonstrations, to hosting live sessions on social media and video first platforms, these digital practises provide a direct store window that can deliver a personalised shopping experience from the comfort of your own home.

Increased audience inclusion

Methodology in the retail industry is broad.

Marketing teams may consider digital, experiential or traditional print approaches. However, providing exciting, immersive experiences is becoming more commonplace in order to engage fresh audiences.

Virtual retail technology provides fully accessible immersive experiences, enabling anyone to actively engage and interact with the retailer. An entire audience can take part in a product demonstration or pop up event and leave having experienced it in the same way as every other participant.

As a result, technology is paving the way for inclusivity in the retail industry and shows no signs of slowing down.







Enhanced time efficiency

In the planning stages of a masterclass, product demonstration, tour or pop up, a major focus for marketing teams is the efficient use of time.

Organisers must feel confident every opportunity will be maximised for the duration of the event in order to drive consumer loyalty. This can place a huge amount of pressure on the individuals or brand ambassadors actively running the event.

Use of technology in the retail sector can be extremely effective as the technology can be structured to provide participants with all relevant information within an allocated time frame. While ambassadors may struggle to get across every message they need to, face to face, virtual technology can impressively plug these gaps and leave a lasting impression on the customer.

Increased sales and improved customer loyalty

Our research shows 8 in 10 individuals will purchase a product after trying it, but in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, it may prove difficult to achieve the close physical proximity necessary.

By offering virtual product demonstrations or online masterclasses, brands are able to provide experiences in multiple formats which will help target new and existing customers at different stages of their shopping journey.

Such product demonstrations can also boost customer loyalty, as our survey found consumers are more likely to buy from the brand again after such a positive, useful experience.

An immersive retail experience to remember

Digital practises such as virtual product demonstrations can help create an immersive experience that participants will remember, take home and share with loved ones.

Through technology, retailers can create stories involving their consumer base, ensuring a connection is established and sustained across future marketing campaigns.

Virtual retail experiences allows brands to create a world that delights their audience while focussing on their product or service and encouraging future engagement as well as offering a flexible shopping experience to suit the consumers need.

The possibilities are endless with technology – and that is the beauty of it.

The retail experience industry can identify and test methodology that best portrays their ideology, product and messaging plans – ensuring consumers are immersed in both the experience and the brand itself.

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