Accenture’s annual holiday shopping survey indicates that for the 2022 holiday season, consumers are exploring new ways to shop, from live streaming to virtual worlds in the metaverse and shopping and transactions. non-fungal (NFT).
The survey indicates that more than 30% of consumers plan to shop in the metaverse or purchase a virtual experience this holiday season. More than 67% of retail executives said their company is beginning to experiment and explore how metaverse and virtual products and services can benefit their businesses.
In early 2021, Selfridges launched a live shopping show in Cantonese. The store had approximately 1,800 NFTs available for purchase as of 28 January 20212, ranging in price from £2,000 to £100,000. And in September 2022, Bloomingdale’s celebrated its 150th anniversary by opening new virtual doors into the metaverse.
Jill Standish, global head of retail at Accenture, said retailers are turning to technology to engage with consumers this season as consumers expect to move freely and seamlessly across digital channels and non-digital at every stage of the purchase journey.
“In response, retailers have been busy combining online and offline capabilities to reduce operational costs and delight shoppers with convenient, competitive pricing and creative, engaging experiences,” Standish said. “As markets become increasingly fragmented, retailers are turning to technology-driven innovation to reach and engage consumers and their employees alike.”
According to Standish, this is partly due to the accelerating effect of the pandemic, which means that more consumers have higher expectations for retail.
“They want seamless, personalized, omnichannel experiences,” Standish said. “Now retailers are challenged to create, shape and market products, services and experiences that can move from the physical to the virtual world. And they must do so while coordinating a network of experts, skills and technologies to make it happen. »
Standish says consumers demanded a seamless experience across all channels, from brick-and-mortar to digital commerce. “With shopping habits likely to continue to change rapidly, now more than ever, retailers need a very sharp understanding of consumer needs,” Standish said.
“That means investing in a strong database, machine learning capabilities, and analytics so they can quickly and repeatedly reset the business as the market moves,” Standish adds.
“Ambitious retail companies will shape new physical and digital experiences, virtual and physical worlds co-populated by people and artificial intelligence (AI), industries enabled by new computing capabilities,” Standish said. .
Standish says live streaming directly from stores is a great example of retailers using technology to combine online and offline capabilities. “Already, about half of retailers in Accenture’s survey said they plan to use a store as a live-streaming studio or create a purpose-built virtual shopping space for the holiday season,” said declared Standish.
Meet buyers in the metaverse
Standish says that while commercial apps are still in their infancy, there’s a lot of excitement about the Metaverse. “By allowing consumers to move seamlessly between two different realities, the Metaverse is set to transform the way retailers and brands interact with consumers,” Standish said.
“We think of the metaverse as a continuum of immersive experiences. In many ways, it may resemble the early days of online or mobile commerce,” Standish said. “Retailers at all levels are experimenting with live shopping events, virtual digital stores and other experiences accessible from a smartphone, tablet or, for those who choose a VR headset.
“We’re already seeing luxury retailers and brands innovating in the metaverse, like the Gucci Garden on Roblox,” Standish said. “Their virtual garden exhibit highlights how the metaverse can recreate the shopping experience. In addition, Gucci’s digital offers could only be purchased for a limited time, which made users understand the scarcity. »
In early 2022, Heineken launched its new Heineken Silver variant on the Decentraland metaverse. “It created a virtual bar where visitors could ‘taste’ the new beer and sample the pixelated lobster and caviar – except, of course, they couldn’t,” Standish said. “The launch was just a precursor to the actual Heinekin Silver unveiling that followed in April 2022.”
Standish says the metaverse can also help retailers build customer loyalty through experiences that go beyond the transactional nature of simply purchasing a product. “An example is creating a personalized experience by providing a shopping event where shoppers can interact with a brand ambassador and immediately enter a virtual dressing room where they can try something on, add it to their cart and check out “, said Standish.
Good old brick and mortar
Standish says that while consumers welcome the technology, physical stores remain essential to the consumer’s holiday shopping experience.
The Holiday survey found that over 51% plan to do most of their holiday shopping in-store this 2022 season. “Innovative retailers are also thinking creatively about store layouts and making better use of digital technologies to help their employees deliver superior experiences,” Standish said. “Creating a live streaming studio to support online sales is an example where retailers are using technology to make their physical stores more efficient.”
Standish says inflation and continued uncertainty pose new challenges for retailers. “The global challenges of the past two years continue to drive bigger, better and bolder evolution in retail. If necessity was the catalyst, technology is the catalyst.
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