October 9, 2020

eCommerce Trends that will
Redefine Virtual Shopping in 2021

Author i95Dev Marketing
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In the 90s and early 2000s, everybody was amazed by eCommerce, and the Covid-19 pandemic has recreated a similar scenario where online shopping seems the new normal as far as 2021 is concerned. As people cannot make purchases in-store, eCommerce websites are coming up with new ways to grab attention. Virtual shopping is one such area that is gaining traction across the industry.

41% of online shoppers are currently buying products online that they usually buy from a brick and mortar store. Virtual shopping can improve user experience and help you remove any doubts about new products in your customers’ minds. In this article, we will look at the upcoming trends in virtual shopping that will impact the eCommerce business in 2021. Buckle up to explore the hyper-realistic online shopping world.

2021: Virtual and Physical Shopping will transcend into each other

The biggest obstacle for eCommerce stores is that certain products’ quality and utility cannot be justified using 2D images. For instance, knowing how a particular fashion accessory fits your favorite outfit with mere pictures leaves a lot to your buyers’ imagination. This certainly doesn’t sound like a great idea as most of the efforts are to be done by the customers, leaving no room for you to promote your product. Virtual Reality is a breakthrough that will help bridge the gap between the benefits of buying products from the comfort of homes and the benefits of trying things before paying for them. On the other hand, brick and mortar stores can also implement such solutions through eCommerce integration solutions on their websites.

Using AR/VR to Demonstrate Products: Ikea Places and Snapchat Filters for Social Commerce

Seeing how a piece of furniture would look in your apartment or office before actually buying it would require you to hire an interior designer’s services in the past. But Ikea came up with its innovative Ikea Place app to fulfill this requirement economically. Augmented Reality helps users see how furniture would look like in real life to make the decision-making process easier. We expect that more brands will utilize the Swiss brand’s strategy in 2021 as a huge portion of people will prefer buying from online stores if they get such exclusive benefits, which even in-store experience lacks.

Snapchat filters are extremely popular, but they have recently found a new application: social selling. The VR filters on Snapchat have attracted many businesses, with Nike setting up a DIY Snapchat Filter Studio to help develop AR filters allowing customers to make purchases after trying products virtually. Social selling holds excellent potential, with AR/VR tech leading the trends.

Chatbots for Sales and Customer Service in Virtual Shopping

Chatbots have been around for a long time, and they play a powerful role in sales and customer service for virtual shopping in eCommerce stores. You can integrate chatbots on your eCommerce store to help your customers navigate through the product listing. The conversational chatbots engage with visitors to understand their search intent and also push for add-ons. On the other hand, they can provide your customers with 24×7 support, which is extremely helpful when solving common issues that require prompting a few tips and instructions. Virtual shopping can benefit immensely through chatbot integration as online stores get an opportunity to use them for improving sales along with customer servicing.

Smart Speakers as Search Engines

Apple Homepod, Google Nest, and Amazon Echo are amazing smart speakers, but they also double as voice-activated search engines. We find that smart speakers will play an important role in determining the future of virtual shopping as people are getting used to asking for online purchase recommendations from Alexa, Siri, Cortona and even Google Assistant (it hasn’t got any name and personality), making virtual shopping easier for everyone. Online shopping websites are also considering voice SEO seriously, and you should invest in it as the adoption of smart speakers is increasing rapidly. Stores optimized for speech recognition will have an upper edge over the competition.

How Brands Can Take VR Beyond the Shopping Experience

In the above sections, we had discussed how various trends in technology are redefining virtual shopping, but now we will have a look at the potential uses of VR tech that will help brands connect with their clients beyond selling products in 2021:

Product Launch

Launching products virtually instead of big shows have two benefits: you can include as many customers as you want, and the product launch event will be extremely economical. Extending an immersive experience to your entire customer base will help nurture brand loyalty without hurting your budget.

Product Testing

You can allow your customers to try out new products through AR/VR, like beta testing programs of mobile apps. This will prove to be an asset for predicting market acceptance.

Personalized Marketing through AI-Powered Virtual Assistants

Having a dedicated salesperson looking after each customer was possible only for bigger brands, but now using AI-powered virtual assistants can help businesses provide exclusive virtual shopping experiences.

Putting It Together

One thing all of us can agree upon is the fact that virtual shopping will gain traction even as economies start to rebound. But the customer sentiment going completely towards online shopping isn’t likely to happen, at least in the foreseeable future. Amazon Fresh Grocery Store is a great example of developing an omnichannel shopping experience. Thus everyone will need a presence at online and offline avenues.

If you are looking forward to integrating technologies facilitating virtual shopping on your web store, i95Dev can help you select and implement your business’s best solutions. We have a diverse team of technology experts for extending cloud-based eCommerce integration solutions to harness these upcoming trends in 2021 and beyond.

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