What Is Virtual Shopping? Humanising The Digital Retail Experience

We are witnessing a fundamental transformation in the way people buy and brands sell.

It’s not hard to see why: the COVID-19 pandemic rocked high street retail, forcing physical stores to close or drastically reduce operations. 

As a result, retail has experienced a rapid channel change, with practically all transactions, except those for necessities, starting online.

Between March 2020 and February 2021, about 75% of UK shoppers made their purchases online.

If the lockdown has shown retailers anything, it’s the strength of internet commerce combined with virtual shopping experiences.

Despite the interruptions caused by the COVID-19 epidemic, shops have thrived with the help of virtual shopping. 

So, what is virtual shopping, and why is it so important? Let’s take a closer look.

What Is Virtual Shopping?

Virtual shopping uses Online Sales Assistants to lead buyers through their product search before purchasing. Consider it a more immersive form of a live conversation. It adds the human factor into e-commerce through the use of technology. 

For instance, an employee working in-store, at home, or at headquarters can communicate with online customers in real-time via text, chat, or video. 

Customers can also ask questions, virtually try on things, and obtain product recommendations from a product specialist while perusing the whole online inventory of stuff via this real-time connection.

At the heart of virtual shopping is the need to satisfy customer expectations and provide more value to them. On the surface, what clients want appears to be unchanging. They desire timely fulfilment and a wide range of product options at a low cost. 

However, their genuine needs are much more complex. 

The Purpose of Virtual Shopping

Virtual shopping exists to bridge the gap between online and in-store shopping. So, it may be about time to forget about static photographs, irrelevant search results, and uninteresting chatbots. 

This mode of shopping, like social apps, enhances the online shopping experience by making it more interactive, immersive, and highly personalised. It also changes consumer shopping habits by allowing them to enjoy the human experience of physical stores without leaving their homes.

With many retailers still experiencing the effects of the pandemic, it is no surprise that the rise of virtual shopping has many rethinking the role of the “store.” Currently, e-commerce is expected to account for more than 58% of overall retail sales in 2022

In addition, Brands may leverage their retail storefronts as studios to shoot and broadcast captivating content for online shoppers. This then inspires internet consumers to come in-store and complete their purchases.

The Benefits of Virtual Shopping

Both retailers and shoppers alike stand to benefit from virtual shopping in the foreseeable future significantly. Here’s how:

1. It Adds the Human Element to the Store

Connecting with customers and adding a human touch gives you an advantage over e-commerce powerhouses. 

Traditionally, a customer may choose to order online and have the product shipped directly to their home. However, your clients can initiate a live e-commerce chat or video conversation throughout the purchasing process through virtual shopping. 

They will also receive the same level of care as they would in-store.

2. It Increases Sales and Average Order Value

Brands that harness the power of virtual purchasing are achieving extraordinary benefits. For example, you can see what consumers are browsing in real-time as they travel about the website. This then gives you an excellent opportunity to provide them with recommendations. 

In fact, customers often spend up to 70% more when using this form of personalised virtual consultation. This is especially true when brands upsell and cross-sell in the same manner they would with in-store customers.

3. You Help Create More Retail Job Opportunities

Virtual shopping solutions like Storey do more than help keep you afloat and your employees on the job. This technology also helps create new retail job opportunities and increases earning potential for sales personnel. 

Online shopping assistants can create and curate films that clients can see before clicking through to the product or collection sites with features like live product demonstrations. Alternatively, customers can utilise it to initiate a chat or video call with an assistant.

4. It Helps Build Brand Reputation

Perhaps the best way for any e-commerce business to establish its brand is through word of mouth. It helps frame customer perception both on social media and in person. 

Virtual shopping gives you a competitive advantage by capturing consumers’ attention and showcasing a genuine commitment to providing the most outstanding retail experiences. As a result, you’ll have more customers, more markets to target, and a stronger overall reputation.

The Best Way to Bring Virtual Shopping Into Your Business

The consumer experience is a critical element for e-commerce businesses. 

Companies have to do more to secure their position as their customers’ go-to brand as competition becomes fiercer by the day. And the most effective approach to improving your online consumer experience is implementing a virtual retail solution such as Storey.

Below are how some of our solutions can help your customers have a more human experience from your online store.

1. Video & Text Live Chat for Retail

With Retail Storey’s eCommerce live chat and video, you get to help your customers understand your products and services. 

You can also connect with professional brand representatives who can answer specific client concerns live on-screen. They can also educate customers on the benefits of your products to enhance conversion, upsell, and create brand loyalty.

2. Online Sales Assistants

At Retail Storey, our Online Shopping Assistants are sourced and trained from within. They are also equipped with in-depth product knowledge and the ability to communicate online, either by text or face-to-face, directly from your website. 

We can help ensure they are ready and able to be the face of your brand, whether they are hired directly by you or by us.

3. Live and Scheduled Product Demos

Get instant or scheduled live product demonstration videos that educate and enhance your consumers’ confidence in your product’s features and benefits. 

Instead of using manufactured video material and library photos, we offer demonstrations that directly answer customer questions and enhance website conversion.

In A Nutshell

Virtual shopping is the future of the retail industry, and for a good reason.

More people prefer using video chat to communicate with a product specialist in-store in real-time. 

Trained store staff are also able to see what customers are looking at online, communicate with them live about what’s new in-store, and provide sensible recommendations. But, given the circumstances, the future is arriving faster than we anticipate. 

So, is your brand ready for the future? Get in touch with us and find out how we can help you prepare for it.

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