The global ecommerce market continues to present a massive opportunity for retailers. According to eMarketer, the global ecommerce market is expected to grow by 20.7% in 2019 to $3.535 trillion, and by 2023, the industry is expected to be worth US$6.54 trillion gross merchandise value (GMV) worldwide.
These staggering statistics, however, bely the tremendous pressure today’s online retail businesses are facing. While consumers are hungrier than ever for goods and digital services, the level of competition in this space has never been higher, making margins tight.
One thing retailers can do to stand out from the competition is to improve their online customer experience (CX) using new technologies that improve the online shopping experience.
Here are 5 examples of CX technologies retailers can use to encourage customers to buy on their sites and nurture customer loyalty.
Visual search, or image search, is the ability to use an image, as opposed to text, to look for identical or related visual information on the internet.
As Marketing Land explains, one of the core benefits of visual search is its ability to reduce the friction between shopping intent and purchase decision. It allows customers to use images to pull up a catalog of identical or related products across multiple ecommerce sites and retailers.
In 2017, British online fashion and cosmetics retailer ASOS introduced its Style Match app, providing shoppers with a new way to discover products. For example, a user could take a screenshot of an influencer’s fashion ensemble on Instagram and upload it to Style Match. The app then brings up a list of shoppable items found on the image.
According to Gartner, 25% of customer service and support operations will integrate chatbot technology on their customer engagement channels by 2020. Today’s artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbots no longer simply answer frequently asked questions with canned responses, but are designed to interact with customers like humans do.
Sephora is a notable example of a brand using chatbots effectively. The beauty retailer’s foray into chatbot technology began in 2016, when it launched a messaging bot on Canadian messaging app Kik.
The bot was designed to provide teenage Sephora customers with content such as makeup tutorials, style guides, and other related video content. According to Kik, it drove an increase in engagement, including over 600,000 interactions, 1,500 customer questions, and 132,000 monthly views on Facebook Live.
Voice search and smart speakers
The rise of voice search and virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, and Google Assistant presents a new customer experience dimension for online stores. And ecommerce brands are catching on, with 69% seeing ordering using voice technology as an opportunity, according to a Smart Insights report.
With Amazon aggressively promoting Alexa, it only makes sense for its ecommerce platform to be shoppable using voice search. For instance, to shop for deals, users simply need to say “Alexa, what are my deals?” and Alexa lists current sales and promotions on different products on Amazon.
As the name suggests, social commerce combines social media with ecommerce, allowing brands to sell goods and services directly through social media networks.
Why does this matter? According to a Kleiner Perkins report, 55% of consumers surveyed purchased a product after seeing it on social media. By making social media content “shoppable,” you can remove any obstacles between product discovery and purchase decision, speeding up the purchase process dramatically.
Herschel Supply Co. is an example of a brand that leverages the visual nature of Instagram and uses it to show the lifestyle behind their products. But what makes Herschel’s social commerce strategy so compelling is how it features user-generated content on Instagram, adding product tags to these images to make them shoppable.
Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that creates an interactive experience, where computer-generated visual information, such as motion graphics and 3D objects, are overlaid on a real-world environment.
Perhaps the most popular example of AR in action can be seen in games like Pokemon GO, which combines CGI Pokemon with your surroundings, and Snapchat, whose AR Lenses — including the famous Dog Filter — launched the social media app into the mainstream.
For online stores, AR allows customers to “try before they buy,” providing visual representations of how products would appear in a real-world setting.
Cosmetics brand L’Oreal uses AR technology by ModiFace, an AR firm the company acquired in March 2018, to give shoppers an accurate visualization of how makeup and hairstyles look on themselves. According to L’Oreal and as reported by the Drum, “its AR experiences on apps or sites triple conversion rates and double engagement time.”
Over to you
Today’s brands are seeking to take advantage of every opportunity to attract and retain customers, or risk quickly disappearing into oblivion — and CX technologies are striving to provide an edge by creating better experiences that help, entertain, and delight customers, all at once.