If there is an arena of technology that retail has historically been a bit more timid about, it’s live video. And why wouldn’t they be? There was never a reason shoppers couldn’t come in, in person or similarly, just find what they want via an ecommerce website.
All of that changed with COVID-19, when suddenly video became the default replacement for every kind of in-person communication. And for retail, this was particularly hard. So much of a shopping experience has historically been created from trying things on, seeing merchandise in person, touching objects with your own hands.
For their part, the retail industry has been incredibly innovative in what the future of virtual shopping could look like. While augmented reality is nothing new, the way that retailers are using its technology to enhance the virtual shopping experience is.
Retailers like Tommy Hilfiger and Tumi have both released their own versions of augmented reality virtual stores where shoppers can navigate the space, ask questions, and interact with products as if they were in a physical store. Nordstrom too recently got in on the live video action with their recently released livestream shopping channel.
But studies (and personal experience) also shows that video isn’t a one-to-one replacement for in-person interaction. You just can’t beat a shopping experience in person. What retailers can do however, is use video to enhance that in-person interaction.
For example, Madewell has rolled out a personal stylist live video platform that pairs shoppers with personal stylists for free. The stylists take cues from the shopper's social media presence and help find outfits for them that fit their look along with answering questions about fabric and fit. They then follow up the next day with links to each product along with their correct size, as well as a discount code to purchase. The service showcases the benefit of how using personalized video can enhance a shopper’s online experience and thus, their loyalty to a brand.