The face of e-commerce has changed exponentially since the pandemic began. What have been some of the most surprising changes in retail that you have noticed in the last 12 months?
It’s been a challenging year for retailers, and one in which the acceleration of digital initiatives has never been quicker. One of the strongest things that has come out of 2020 is the adaptability of the retail sector and their ability to pivot and deliver online solutions to bridge the physical gap with their customers.
In terms of e-commerce, the top three things that I’ve noticed are:
- Going Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) can be quick: Many organisations have shown that going D2C, which previously could take years to accomplish, can now be done in less than a year with laser-focused planning and execution.
Established global brands such as Nike and Adidas have recognised the merit of D2C, and are now focussed on generating at least 50 percent of their revenue, directly engaging their customers. Similarly in Australia, retailers and brands have adapted their business models to leverage D2C and focused on e-commerce as a way to drive revenue, maintain a competitive advantage, and reach and engage customers in the absence of traditional retail channels.
1. Shift in consumer behaviour: While this was partly borne out of necessity due to the pandemic, there is now a more permanent shift to how consumers will purchase in the future. With a growing number of digital channels now available, consumers are able to conveniently purchase from a range of categories and retailers without the need for an in-store experience.
As a result, retailers have pivoted to e-commerce and adapted to meet the demands and expectations of their customers by creating a positive digital experience.
2. Video in the retail experience: There has been significant growth in the use of video as part of the retail experience. At the end of the day, consumers still crave that personalised human touch despite subscribing to a highly digital lifestyle. With video, retailers are able to establish a richer connection directly with their target audience through the use of video.
Do you expect these changes to stick in the long term?
In short, yes. This sharp shift towards embracing all things digital has created a new omnichannel experience for consumers – one that is personalised, seamless, and experiential across both online and offline touchpoints.
Retailers must continue to understand the behaviours of consumers both in-store and beyond to attract new prospects while retaining loyal customers. In order to this, brands must be agile to adapt and innovate, leveraging relevant technologies and solutions such as video to support them in this endeavour.
Greg Armshaw, Senior Director Solution Sales, Asia Pacific, Brightcove
The retail industry often seeks its trend inspiration from other parts of the world. What has been an international trend that Australian retailers should adopt in a post-pandemic landscape?
One of the biggest international trends to come out of 2020 was the convergence of live streaming and e-commerce. While largely driven out of China, it is also gaining strong traction in the US, with research projecting live streaming in both markets valued to be worth billions – estimated at $125 Billion in China alone in 2020. This is a clear opportunity that Australia can tap into.
Live streaming creates a sensory, real-time experience between the shopper and the seller. For retailers, this helps to bridge the gap between social, entertainment and commerce, and delivers a new opportunity to deliver customer experiences and transactions.
Content as a tool has come a long way, especially when it comes to creating an immersive online experience. More than ever, video has become a valuable tool for retailers. How can businesses use video content to create this immersive experience, whether it be online or in-store?
There are many ways that businesses can leverage video marketing at all levels of the customer journey to create an immersive customer experience. Here are a few key ones:
- Pre-purchase: At this stage, video is predominantly used for search and discovery via social media, websites or email newsletters, giving customers the ability to visually research and uncover features and benefits in a more contextual way. Live streaming is also gaining popularity as a way to ‘virtually’ launch a product, or create a showcase event to engage prospective and current audiences.
- Online purchase: Video can be used to showcase related products or solutions or recommendations to drive increased cart size. For example, a fashion brand may show a video of a model wearing an outfit so customers can get a visualisation of the ‘look’ and fit, helping them to imagine themselves wearing that outfit, followed by a ‘get the look’ video in-cart to drive additional sales. Brands can also use interactive shoppable videos that come with a CTA or click to cart conversion to deliver a more seamless experience.
- In-store purchase: In a physical storefront, retailers will want their video content to be interactive. This could mean having QR codes or apps that demonstrate key product features and benefits, customer testimonials or reviews, or how-to-use demos. Through this form of visual storytelling, buyers have the opportunity to ‘test out’ the products in different settings. For example, a furniture store can use video to help customers visualise what a chair would look like in a virtual lounge room, giving them a visual context to help them make an informed decision. Separately, video is also a great way to build staff knowledge, leveraging video to train and upskill staff on products or services.
- Post-purchase: At this stage, it is about supporting your customer with the relevant information on the product or service that they have purchased. In this instance, unboxing tutorials and how-to videos that educate your customers on how to get started are ideal. Brands are increasingly using video for advocacy – using user-generated video content for testimonials, or to showcase a product or solution in action.
A major trend that is slowly making its way worldwide is live stream shopping. Do you expect the platform to succeed in Australia?
In Australia, while it is estimated the pandemic accelerated online retail growth by 5 times in a matter of months, the transition to live stream e-commerce has been somewhat slower. For retailers, there is interest to adopt this type of solution, however, they need to have the confidence and competency of talent to embrace this opportunity to its fullest potential.
In the shorter term, I think that retail businesses in Australia will focus on adopting video across their online and offline channels to create a robust omnichannel experience for customers.
What is interesting, however, is that brands are emerging as the stalwarts of live streaming. And while they may be ‘testing the waters’ so to speak, global brands like KitKat are experimenting with live streaming as an avenue to drive mind-share, build loyalty and deliver experiences for customers that will ultimately drive sales.
Shoppable video is more likely to be a growing trend in Australia, as we see more retailers looking to differentiate and use new and unique ways to engage and interact with consumers via the channel of their preference. ‘Shoppable TV’ is also expected to emerge as another potential channel, as the lines become more blurred between entertainment experiences and ways to reach consumers.
If so, how long might we expect to see live stream shopping take shape in Australia?
It’s hard to pinpoint a specific timeframe. Judging by the trend that we are seeing in the marketplace, and as it becomes more readily available, live stream shopping will naturally take its place. It will likely resonate the most with this generation of digital natives where live video streaming is commonplace – hence an increased expectation to have the same digital interactions with brands and retailers as they do in other facets of their life.
If we are to expect live streaming to become a popular choice for retailers and shoppers in the future, what might be some of the benefits and detriments to the channel?
With live streaming, geographical location is no longer a barrier to access for both retailers and shoppers. For retailers, this means increased exposure and reach which allows them to:
- Target new audiences and create unique interactions.
- Increase engagement, drive conversion and cultivate loyalty.
- Provide brands with key insights into their customers through the use of data and analytics.
From a customer’s point of view, it is all about convenience:
- They now have the ability to have the store in the palm of their hand. Shopping whenever, from wherever on any device.
- It is also an incredibly seamless experience from the first click to the last.
Live streaming can sometimes also be thought of as a double-edged sword. There is a certain level of risk in delivering live content simply because it is ‘live’ and there is potential for errors such as sharing the wrong product info. While not ideal, written info can easily be replaced with a correction or an update but once presented live, it could cause confusion for viewers and result in a poor customer experience.
That said, the past year has changed not only how live stream content is produced but also how it is perceived. Consumers are increasingly resonating with less polished content from retailers and brands, finding this more authentic and appealing.
How can retailers get ahead of the trend and implement the platform in a successful way?
There are three key considerations to be successful with video:
1. Have a comprehensive video platform: A business should use a platform that is easily scalable which allows them to reach new audiences and deliver on their ROI. At a minimum, your video platform should include these features:
- High quality and reliable video delivery
- A robust video content management system
- A complete cross-platform solution for reaching the ever-expanding list of mobile devices and Connected TVs
- Reliable live streaming
2. Integrate existing systems to extend the power of video: Using an end-to-end platform like Brightcove allows your business to easily integrate with e-commerce platforms such as Adobe Magento Commerce and Salesforce Commerce Cloud B2C. These solutions enable you to create an even better experience for viewers, with measurable analytics that are critical to making informed business decisions.
It’s not just live streaming that is becoming a popular choice amongst retailers – social shopping is also securing itself as a core tool for retailers. What trends can we expect to see from social commerce in the next 12 months?
Australia has approximately 18 million social media users, and with 1 in every 3 minutes online spent on social media, it makes logical sense that social commerce is leading the future of e-commerce – something that is likely to continue evolving over the next 12 months.
Savvy retailers will look to capitalise on this trend to leverage popular channels like Instagram or Facebook as cost-effective and efficient ways of boosting product discovery and purchase while maintaining meaningful, real-time communications with their customers.
For consumers, the digital habits developed during the pandemic lockdown will continue to persist. Social commerce platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and others, will continue to innovate and add features to their purchase and cart capabilities, further cementing the role of social commerce into the e-commerce ecosystem.
Following the pandemic, it’s no longer an option to have a basic site or just competitive pricing. How can retailers use video analytics to drive better brand connection, and further enhance the shopping experience for their customers?
In today’s data-driven world, video analytics is one of the most useful tools for measurement. This goes beyond the traditional impressions and clicks and dives into actual audience behaviour. This gives a brand comprehensive and robust analytics to measure their ROVI (return on video investment), and help form future strategies.
This is particularly important as being able to develop audience insights is critical to any brand trying to sell anything. This arms businesses with the necessary data to target specific audiences with curated content that is personalised for them.
To this end, with video analytics, you can dive into viewer engagement data, including who is viewing your content, how it is being viewed (devices, browsers, operating systems), how long it is being viewed, and where viewers are coming from. All of this helps the marketing team develop a more robust strategy to speak to your customers directly.
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