Written By Devvrat Arya, Vice President of Technology, Pepperfry
Since the advent of the pandemic, there has been a paradigm shift in the way brands interact with consumers. The pandemic has put an end to the term ‘BAU’ (business as usual) and has become a launchpad for brands to aggressively adopt digitization. There is technological disruption in almost all the sector and the online commerce segment is no exception.
Adopting technological innovation is not an option anymore but a necessity. Brands have also realized the strategic importance of technology and digital offerings have been accelerated to meet the ever-changing consumer demands. Brands are now leveraging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) to elevate customer experience which results in personalized engagements and provides real world experiences in virtual formats.
Considering how these technologies are now going mainstream among brands, it is critical to understand effective ways to leverage them. There has been a drastic change in the way customers shop these days and emerging technologies such as VR and AR are majorly responsible for this. Virtual Reality (VR) immerses customers into a virtual storefront which is almost like a physical store where they can browse through a range of products and can try them before buying. AR lets customers visualise what a product would potentially look like in their home before buying it. This multisensory interaction creates a positive emotional connection between the brand and the consumer. Such immersive experiences are becoming a key differentiator for brands in providing unmatched customer experience, resulting in great customer retention, brand recall and business growth.
Of late, customers have started communicating with brands in ways like they never have before. Therefore, conversational support is essential to improve customer service. This is a great opportunity for D2C brands to leverage the power of online shopping platforms and AI tools to establish good relationships with its customers. AI tools such as chatbots and virtual assistants support brands to engage customers basis their expectations. With the help of a chatbot-based interface, customers can discover products, place orders, make payment, and track orders instantaneously.
AI has been a blessing in disguise in creating best-in-class, tailor-made shopping experiences on several online shopping and e-commerce marketplaces for consumers. With the optimal use of AI, e-tailers can now regularly learn, track, and analyze their customers’ online behaviours, as well as use predictive analytics accurately to forecast their future purchase decisions – which in turn can lead to increased recurring buyers and customer loyalty over a period of time. Additionally, AI together with automation also empowers brands to share customized offers, product recommendations, and deals to prospective and existing customers.
Advancements in emerging technologies such as AI, VR, and AR have accelerated digital transformation of businesses. Technological advancements have been the new normal and businesses who are investing in it are able to create visibility for their products and services to a global audience, thus increasing brand awareness. Upgradation of existing technological solutions and automation processes have proven to be very profitable for small and large businesses.
In the end, it will all boil down to how adeptly and intuitively consumer brands can deploy these technologies to elevate customer experiences. The brands that can do so effectively are the ones which will stand apart for the future.