As omnichannel retail strategy has become a marketing standard for brands, it’s time for brands to start seeking new ways to enhance their overall omnichannel strategy.
The three pillars of success for retail marketing are:
A unique way to combine these three elements is through virtual experience. Virtual experience provides consumers with a personalized experience while also enabling the brand to incorporate storytelling. Different types of virtual experience include, live-commerce, AI omnishopping, VR video experience and virtual showrooms.
Our previous article focused on how these different types of virtual experience can work. Today, we will focus on the benefits of VR stores in omnichannel marketing strategy by looking at a few brands who have successfully created virtual showrooms in the past.
What is a Virtual Store?
Virtual stores allow for omnipresence and personalization by creating a sophisticated brand experience online. A 2-D is not enough for online shopping. Despite the growing popularity of online shopping and live-commerce, a majority of luxury brand purchases are still made in physical stores. Even after experiencing the covid19 impacts, statistics show that 85% Chinese consumers still prefer to have a physical interaction with a brand before purchasing goods (McKinsey). The main use of virtual stores is to market products and help drive sales.
Evolution of Experience
Omnichannel shopping has been around since the 1970’s where consumers could order products from a catalog over the phone. This soon evolved into infomercials and home shopping networks. As technologies continued to evolve and access to the internet, omnichannel shopping took a very big leap with viral marketing, mobile applications, and virtual experiences online that utilize VR and AI technology.
Jimmy Choo Virtual Showroom
In 2014 Jimmy Choo created an omnichannel experience by launching a virtual showroom, allowing customers to pre-order products that were being released in their new Fall Collection. The virtual showroom was advanced for the time, the design style was much like a Google maps street view. Users could see live images inside of the store and observe real life product pictures and learn more about their features.
Image Source: www.glamourmagazine.co.uk
This was one of the first types of virtual experiences that provided consumers with a unique experience by giving them premier access to view goods that usually could not be seen until after fashion week. The campaign helped to create excitement for the new launch of products and increase the demand for the new shoe lines before they were even released in stores.
Ted Baker Virtual Showroom
In 2015 Ted Baker created a virtual showroom of their London flagship store. Similar to Jimmy Choo, users could view actual products but were able to engage in more interactive features. Users could zoom in on products to see more details, and share photos of the products on their various social media channels. The target of the brand was to utilize the showroom as a marketing tool while also driving sales.
Image Source: www.theguardian.com
The brand was able to track user data analytics to gain a better understanding of the consumer journey inside the virtual store and realize which products had the highest interaction. The brand could then use this data to enhance their retail store designs in the future.
Geberit Virtual Showroom
Virtual showrooms in 2020 look a bit different from previous models and incorporate a lot more interactive features for users. One of Europe’s leading sanitary brands, Geberit, launched a virtual showroom that does exactly this. The virtual experience takes the user into an interactive showroom where they can interact with different sanitary products and learn more about the features, styles, and directly make purchases through the connected links for products.
Image Source: www.international.geberit.com
This type of virtual experience, enables the brand to have a direct and interactive experience with consumers. The brand can track data and flexibly adapt their showroom design based on user needs. They can drive sales directly through the experience itself.
Overall Benefit of Virtual Experience Showrooms
Why should retail brands adopt virtual showrooms as part of their omnichannel retail strategy? In one word, flexibility. In light of the Covid19 pandemic, 2020 has shown the retail industry that brands cannot rely on a purely physical stores alone, and further stresses the need for brands to strengthen their omnichannel strategies. A prime example is the Finnish fashion accessory brand Marja Kurki, who usually sells 50% online and 50% in retail stores, saw an increase of online sales to 70% during the first months of the crisis.
Image Source: 5 Star Plus Retail Design
Omnichannel retail strategy is evolving and interaction through every marketing channel continues to grow in importance. Virtual experience provides consumers with a personalized experience while also enabling the brand to incorporate storytelling. Virtual experiences also give brands better analytics on their consumer’s journey and enable them to see which products are most desirable. This allows the brand to then adapt their marketing strategy and physical retail design to fulfill the needs of their consumers.
This blog post was originally published by Melchers’ Retail Partner 5 Star Plus Retail Design, an interior design company specializing in the branded design of retail stores and restaurants. The original post can be found here.