Ecommerce retail sales were approximately $5.2 trillion worldwide in 2021, and are forecast to grow by 56% in the next few years. This meteoric rise underscores how consumer shopping habits, especially with Millennials and Gen Z, have evolved.
If brands want to remain relevant, they not only need to maintain their digital foothold, but also innovate to distinguish themselves in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
One way to separate yourself from the pack is by recreating the experience of in-store shopping on your website.
Imagine online platforms where interactive displays and touchscreens for new products mimic the vibrant window shopping experiences of bustling physical stores. Envision digital aisles where retail storefront displays come alive, allowing shoppers to virtually touch, feel, and explore products, much like they would in showrooms in brick-and-mortar retail.
This fusion of the physical and digital worlds, in the form of immersive interactive shopping experiences, is the future. These online experiences provide brands with a dynamic canvas to attract new customers, captivate them with personalized engagements, and foster a stronger sense of customer loyalty.
When executed right, these experiences can transform casual browsers into brand ambassadors, eager to share their unique shopping journeys and return for more curated adventures.
Interactive shopping experiences create a more engaging, convenient, and enhanced shopping experience, whether it’s online or in person. These experiences also customize the shopper’s journey, tailoring their experience to what they need and providing the right information at the right time.
These types of experiences are often memorable and can lead to improved customer satisfaction, encourage customer interactions with the brand, and can lead to more customers talking to others about their experiences, whether on social media or face-to-face to friends and family.
More shoppers are expecting personalized experiences that incorporate technological advances. People are no longer satisfied with static, impersonalized information.
Shoppers want to feel engaged. They are looking for brands that can tailor information to what they need so their shopping is streamlined. As Blake Morgan, the ’Queen of Customer Experience’ says, “Customers don’t just want to shop; they want to feel that the brand understands them.”
Many customers are expecting brands to incorporate technological advances that make it easier and faster to make a buying decision while having a fun or memorable experience.
Unlike other generations, Gen Z has grown up shopping online. They fully embrace technology and the online world, including sharing experiences on social media and expecting accessible, eye-catching, and tailored shopping, whether online or in person.
Gen Z consumers are also more likely to turn to research products and brands using social media (48%) compared to search engines (44%).
To win the loyalty of Gen Z, ecommerce and retail stores need to continue to embrace advances in technology and create memorable, personalized shopping experiences that are meaningful to them.
For example, retail stores that create selfie opportunities provide Gen Z shoppers with a fun, entertaining experience that’s easy to share on social media. It also gets them to engage with products and the brand, increasing their chance of becoming a loyal customer.
Ecommerce stores can use 3D technology, VR, and augmented reality tools to create immersive, engaging experiences that shoppers will share on social media. These types of experiences are also memorable, which also increases the likelihood of them becoming loyal, repeat customers.
Customers want to be able to access information in the format that best suits them, whether that’s using a website on a desktop computer or a mobile device, an app, email, social media, or a retail store.
This omnichannel demand provides ecommerce and retail stores multiple ways to attract new customers, nurture existing ones, and increase user engagement. In addition to greater reach, an omnichannel approach makes it easier for customers to find your brand, make a purchase, and share their thoughts — boosting customer satisfaction and increasing brand loyalty.
Interactive shopping experiences help retailers stand out from competitors and provide a more memorable, personalized, and pleasant shopping experience for customers.
Here are several ways interactive shopping can benefit ecommerce and in-person retailers and their customers.
Standing out from your competitors is crucial in the crowded ecommerce landscape. And now that more people are also combining shopping online and in stores, the need for a competitive edge continues to grow.
Interactive shopping experiences can provide that competitive advantage. It allows you to create memorable shopping experiences that customers can share with others, helping you spread the word. And these experiences can make the buying process more pleasant, personalized, and streamlined, making customers more likely to return.
Additionally, you can create experiences and use technology that enhances and coordinates with your brand image. This step can help future-proof your business by building brand recognition and showing your brand’s willingness to incorporate technology and changes that improve the customers’ experience.
You can also use this immersive shopping experience to assist with brand storytelling, conveying your story and values. Brands can use the interactive content to showcase their products in compelling and immersive ways, letting customers connect with the brand’s identity on a deeper level.
Interactive shopping experiences give retailers a wealth of data that they can use to refine their marketing strategies. Here are three examples of how data from interactive shopping experiences can help with data collection and analytics.
Zero party data is information that customers voluntarily share with you, such as through quizzes, polls, and more. This information helps you better understand your audience, their needs, and what types of products and services best suit them.
You can use an interactive shopping experience to help you gather this type of information while making the customer feel valued and heard. For example, you can use a fun interactive quiz to learn about them, their preferences, and their needs. And the customer has an engaging, on-brand experience that strengthens their connection to your company.
The interactive experiences can also provide you insights into your customers’ behaviors, allowing you to better understand them and give them a more personalized experience.
Moving beyond third-party data, this methodology of collecting direct, unfiltered insights from your customers helps to truly understand what drives each purchase. Understanding your buyer’s motivations and behaviors, and building buyer intelligence, enables informed decision-making in product strategy, marketing, and sales.
Visitors want to find relevant products efficiently, and interactive shopping experiences can provide a fun way for them to have greater personalization.
For instance, you can use customer data and insights to help tailor product recommendations, which can boost conversion rates. Allowing customers to experience or interact with products, such as through 3D visualizations, can help them make better-informed decisions, and reduce return rates.
The zero party data you generate with many immersive experiences can also help you provide more personalization, especially if browser cookies are not enabled.
There are many ways to effectively incorporate interactive experiences onto your website or retail space. One approach that shoppers gravitate toward is quizzes. But you’ll want to make sure the quiz is engaging, easy to use, and focused on needs-based questions. Here are three examples of brands that use quizzes well.
SmartyPants: Find Your Perfect Routine Quiz
This short quiz from SmartyPants helps shoppers find the right product for them. This approach is especially beneficial for new customers who may not know what kind of formula they really want or need.
This quiz helps customers make decisions and learn what they need based on their answers. It’s also short — streamlining their experience so they don’t need to spend a lot of time. It’s visually appealing, with relevant images provided for most questions, so it’s easy to make decisions and stay engaged.
Shoppers are provided with several product choices at the end, which they can click on to receive more information. This approach streamlines and personalizes their experience, letting them discover items that fit their needs. As a result, the quiz can help reduce returns, build purchase confidence, and increase customer satisfaction.
Logitech’s Ultimate Desk Setup Quiz
Logitech makes it easy for shoppers to narrow down to the right type of desk setup by asking guided questions about their needs. At the end of the quiz, they not only provide personalized recommendations but a visual configuration of what the setup would like, including where the items could be displayed on the desktop.
The quiz is brief, easy to start over, and makes it easy to learn more about the recommended products or to buy the setup as is.
Trek’s Bike Finder
Trek’s bike finder jumps straight to the point, helping customers narrow down bike choices to what they need — quickly. Trek combines key questions, like who you’re buying for and where you ride, with easy to identify images, allowing users to make decisions efficiently. After making your choices, you get their primary recommendation and a button that lets you learn more — streamlining your shopping experience. Additionally, you can see what choices you made during the quiz. So, if you change your mind, you can select the question you want to change, and it jumps to that choice.
We needed an intuitive way to help shoppers, regardless of their experience level, find the bike most appropriate for their needs. As we shifted our focus toward the consumer, it became clear that static tools were not the right approach for our audience. We needed a better way to inform, inspire, educate, and excite our visitors about the brand and what we offer for their individual needs.– Dean Gore, VP Marketing, Trek
Key Elements of an Interactive Shopping Experience
When creating interactive shopping experiences, you want to choose options that fit your brand and your customer’s needs, so you’re streamlining their experience, engaging them, and making it easier for them to make buying decisions.
Here are some key elements to consider.
Interactive shopping experiences can provide a fun, creative, and effective way for shoppers to explore and learn about your products. These types of interactions can also provide opportunities to provide personalized recommendations, like with quizzes.
You can also use technology advances to make it easier for people to search and filter items, so they can quickly find what they want, such as filtering or searching on size, color, and more. You can use tools to enhance and speed up the discovery process and also offer personalized, auto-suggestions.
More interactive options, like intelligent searchor visual search, can also go beyond simple text-based matches. As a result, customers get better results that are based on the intent of each query and may present more relevant tips and products.
Interactive tools can also make it easier for shoppers to find information for themselves. For instance, interactive guides and video demonstrations can enhance shoppers’ understanding of your products and options, allowing them to make better-informed decisions.
Chatbots and virtual assistants can also provide instant answers to common customer questions as well as provide personalized information.
Additionally, self-service options like in-store CPQs allow customers to tailor products or services to their needs. You can also use these kiosks to prompt for complementary items.
As mentioned earlier, having a consistent omnichannel customer journey can streamline and enhance your shoppers experience. It allows them to have a positive experience with your brand whether shopping online, on a mobile device, desktop, or through social media, which can increase sales and build brand loyalty.
Additionally, providing brand-consistent experiences will help with brand recognition, especially if customers are sharing their experiences on social media. And, having consistency across channels provides opportunities like providing personalized offers when customers use their account logins.
Visual product configurators are especially helpful when you offer customizable products. For instance, you can use a 2D or 3D visualizer that gives customers the ability to choose colors, sizes, materials, and more. It can provide a real-time representation of their choice, leading to improved buying satisfaction and fewer returns.
Because interactive, immersive experiences rely on active engagement by your visitors, there are some challenges and issues to consider.
Personalizing a shopper’s experience relies on you having information about them. And since online customers are very privacy and security conscious, you need to make sure that your technology and tools conform to regulations.
When incorporating new technology, you want to make sure the information customers provide is consistent with data privacy and security requirements. For example, if you’re using a third-party’s technology, make sure they are complying with regulations and that you understand how data is collected.
You’ll also want to try and minimize any exposure to data breaches or security issues and stay current on regulations. For instance, you can keep a detailed record of how you comply.
Striking a balance between respecting customers’ privacy and providing a personalized experience can sometimes be challenging, but it is possible.
Scalability is crucial for a product discovery process so that you can handle increased demands as your brand grows. This is especially true for interactive shopping experiences, where customers expect seamless, personalized interactions across multiple touchpoints.
- Global Reach: As brands expand, they need to cater to a global audience. A scalable platform ensures that product discovery experiences are consistent and effective, regardless of the region or language.
- Diverse Demands: From multi-brand to multi-language support, businesses face diverse challenges. Scalability ensures that these demands are met without compromising on performance or customer experience.
- Optimized Resources: Efficient resource management is essential for growth. Scalable solutions optimize resources, reducing the strain on teams and budgets.
Incorporating a product discovery platform, like Zoovu, ensures that you can continue to provide dynamic interactive experiences at scale as you grow.
B/S/H, Europe’s leading home appliance manufacturer, recognized the need and sought to revamp their digital product discovery process. However, their initial in-house solutions faced scalability challenges, lacking the flexibility and advanced content needed for a truly customer-centric experience.
With its AI Product Discovery platform, B/S/H was able to introduce hundreds of dynamic discovery experiences, from web assistants to visual configurators.
A standout feature was the integration of multiple assistants in a single visual configurator, allowing customers to design entire kitchens seamlessly. Moreover, Zoovu’s platform ensured scalability and adaptability, letting B/S/H tailor experiences based on regional and market-specific needs.
Interactive product and sales tools streamline the buying process and allow customers to explore and interact with your products on their own. So they can reach a buying decision that fits them, increasing satisfaction and providing a positive shopping experience with your brand.
Interactive product configurators let customers fully explore a product, making it easier for them to visualize the features. These product configurators are often 3D.
These tools allow people to better understand what they’re buying, select options they want, and make a buying decision faster.
When choosing an interactive product configurator, look for one that:
- Provides customization
- Can handle a wide range of product features or options
- Integrates with your existing systems
- Can scale with your business
A visual product configurator is a digital tool that allows buyers to personalize and visualize products interactively, often in 2D, 3D, or augmented reality formats. These configurators simplify the buying process for complex products, enhancing user engagement and speeding up decision-making.
For instance, imagine purchasing a custom kitchen mixer online. Instead of just seeing static images, with a visual product configurator, customers can interactively explore the mixer, select its color, and visualize it in their own kitchen setting.
Complex products can pose challenges in online showcases. This is where visual CPQ (Configure, Price, Quote) software comes into play. It not only allows customers to better visualize options but also simplifies management of these options for sellers.
Interactive product advisors, like product finder tools and product quizzes, help reduce customer frustration, increase personalization, and provide a more engaging and streamlined buying experience.
They achieve this by acting as digital assistants, guiding customers through their purchase journey, ensuring a tailored and efficient buying process.
Product finder tools and quizzes typically use a few questions to help shoppers quickly find what they’re looking for. Using product finder tools can increase customer satisfaction and reduce return rates because customers find what they need using the guided selling experience.
What sets these interactive product advisors apart is their ability to foster a conversational dialogue with shoppers. Beyond just product recommendations, they offer invaluable insights and zero-party data about customer preferences and behaviors.
Diving deeper, product finders can be driven by rule-based systems or advanced machine learning algorithms. The former offers a dynamic shopping experience, often leading customers to a single product that perfectly aligns with their requirements. On the other hand, product quizzes, typically rooted in decision trees, present hard-coded recommendations, making them slightly less fluid in their approach.
Both can work well, so it’s helpful to know what type of experience you want your shoppers to have.
Interactive kiosks can provide information about products, support customers in their decision-making process, and create a streamlined and engaging shopping experience. These interactive experiences can not only provide information but create a fun, appealing shopping experience that can lead to increased satisfaction and brand loyalty.
Kiosks can also provide businesses with data, allowing for more personalization and better understanding of their customers.
In addition to helping find products, kiosks can provide customers with a self-service experience, helping them find and buy products without needing to interact with a salesperson at a store.
These can also help provide an omnichannel experience. For example, some stores use kiosks to allow shoppers to buy online then use the kiosk for pick up at a store.
With continued technology advances, opportunities for interactive retail experiences will continue to expand. So it will remain important to stay up-to-date on changes and advances.
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) shopping are two types of technology that will be important for retailers to follow.
These tools will continue to provide a bridge between online and in-person shopping experiences. These tools will help ecommerce stores provide more realistic, interactive experiences, making it easier for buyers to make decisions.
For example, shoppers can use a mobile app with AR technology to see what a piece of furniture they’re looking at looks like in their room or what a hat will look like on them.
These types of AR and VR shopping tools can also create a brand experience that can help with marketing and increasing user-generated content on social media.
In sum, shoppers crave personalized and immersive experiences.
With Zoovu’s AI product discovery platform, you can elevate brand visibility, boost customer satisfaction, and drive sales. All while collecting more zero-party data.
Don’t miss out on transforming your online shopping journey. Request a demo of Zoovu.