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The reinvention of retail and e-commerce

The reinvention of retail and e-commerce

E-commerce is looking a little different in this post lockdown world. Success for brands in this area is increasingly coming from the seamless merging of the online and in-store experience – giving customers the best of both worlds.

Consumer expectations for a tailored approach are crossing into their online shopping experiences. Bringing a human touch to online experiences will be crucial for brands, to give their customers the level of service they are coming to anticipate.

This is playing out in the divergence occurring between convenience and luxury products. The nuances between the two are becoming increasingly prominent, as the base level of expectation spills over to determine the minimum expectations for the majority of consumers.

The art of onboarding

Brands have a unique opportunity to strengthen their customer onboarding experiences using AI and data, enhancing customer recommendations based on machine learning and their past interactions online. This helps replicate the education and relationship building that would usually happen through in-store interactions.

Mwell, Kellogs gut health brand, curated its onboarding experience for its prebiotic products by integrating a quiz on its online store. By guiding customers to the right product based on their results, it creates the sense that it was made specifically for them.

The convenience factor

For convenience products, including FMCG, subscriptions are more popular than ever. Though the pandemic assisted this growth, having products regularly delivered is not something consumers will be giving up any time soon.

For food and beverage products like Fullgreen and Roasting Plant, subscription growth over the past 18 months has been unprecedented, as evidenced in Recharge’s 2021 State of Subscription Commerce report.

Customer relationships in the palm of your hand

At the other end of the spectrum, luxury brands are embracing personal shopping via video-messaging apps such as Hero. These tools enable brands to maintain personal relationships with existing customers while establishing new relationships while stores were closed.

Giving customers the ability to benefit from in-store interactions on demand through their own devices has been revolutionary for many brands throughout the pandemic. It has prompted growth in AOV and repeat purchases and provided ultra-convenient interactions at a time when consumers are hyperaware of the importance of human interactions in retail.

Loyalty looks different

While loyalty programs are universally successful, their integration and application across convenience and luxury brands need to be considered. 

Amerifine, the definitive home of American excellence, showcases high-end products and brands from grand pianos to high-end jewellery, and naturally calls for a highly-bespoke approach to loyalty. Its clientele must find it engaging, rewarding, and in line with the personalised service, they expect when purchasing high-value items, regardless of if that purchase is made in-store or online.

Finding your tribe

Another revelation of the last 18 months has been the power and value of online communities. This trend transcends both convenience and luxury markets, with cult followings across many beauty, fashion and lifestyle brands, regardless of their price point.

As customers desire to have a genuine connection with brands and brand communities, the integration of UGC, reviews, and influencer marketing has given brands the ability to create an authentic online movement that is difficult to emulate offline.

These communities are reinforced by best-in-class customer service, facilitated through omnichannel-integrated platforms such as Gorgias. And for companies like Boy Smells, which has an incredibly loyal customer base, there is an expectation that its online customer services are commensurate with the quality of the product they are purchasing.

Providing a helping hand

During the lockdown months, direct-to-consumer demand for products had never been higher. However, many online experiences couldn’t provide the missing link of product information and application that consumers were accustomed to obtaining in-store.

At the nexus of convenience and luxury brands, we find high-end products such as Mylands paints, who were able to connect those dots. Through informative and educational content integrated into the site, Mylands mitigated the loss of interaction with in-store staff, who would regularly pass on helpful information to consumers. 

In these vital moments, brands need to consider what the consumer is potentially missing out on by purchasing online, and not only mitigating this but going above and beyond to ensure a best-in-class, omnichannel experience.

Check out The Drum’s Retail hub for a more comprehensive look at the reinvention of retail.