How a global pandemic is shifting the online shopping landscape.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Decorations are starting to pop-up here and there while visions of deep discounts and door-buster deals dance in our collective heads. And, while the season may very well end-up looking shiny and bright, there’s a more-than-likely chance that it’s not necessarily going to feel that way.
To say that COVID-19 has impacted our lives is an understatement of epic proportions. It has changed everything about the way we live, work, travel, and, as will become obvious in just a few days, the way we shop.
According to Adobe Analytics, in 2019 Black Friday shoppers spent $7.4 billion online – a $1.2 billion increase over the previous year. And 61% of all online retail transactions last year were from smartphones (a 16% increase over 2018).
As for Cyber Monday 2019, customers spent $9.4 billion online – a 20% increase from 2018. Mobile transactions accounted for $3.1 billion in sales, a 46% increase over the previous year. Impressive numbers, to say the least. But, that was before COVID changed, well, everything. Just a few months ago Google stated:
“More than a third of U.S. shoppers who normally shop in-store for Black Friday say they won’t this year. And half of U.S. shoppers say the pandemic will affect how they’ll shop for the holidays this year.”
If that statement turns out to be true, online retailers could be in for a record-shattering online holiday shopping season. In anticipation, many brands have ramped up their online presence and are feeling more prepared than ever. Here are just some of the strategies and tactics marketers are implementing to make sure that their customers find that special something for that special someone as easily, and as safely as possible.
Turkey Day Will Just Be About Turkey
If there’s one thing you could always rely on come Thanksgiving, it was that the big box stores would be open on Thanksgiving. Not this year. Walmart, Best Buy, and Target have all announced that their stores will be closed on Thanksgiving. Given that fact, most of their holiday sales and promotions will most likely reside on their respective websites.
Instead of Punches And Kicks, Discounts And Clicks
Shoppers will no longer have to risk bodily harm by throwing themselves into a pre-dawn shopping scrum. Doorbuster deals and massive crowds cued up for high-ticket items will be replaced by online discounts that start sooner and last for a longer time.
Oh, Good, Another Acronym
During the early days of the pandemic, common household items quickly ran out of stock. Unfortunately, one usually didn’t realize the item was out of stock until one was already standing in the store. This is why BOPIS (buy online and pick-up in-store) has become so popular. Expect more retailers to offer this service that puts customer safety and convenience first, while still making cash registers ring.
Time To Go Shopping
Just like making a reservation at a restaurant, some stores may require customers to register for a specific shopping time slot. By doing so, it limits the number of people in the store at one time, making for a safer, and certainly more unique shopping experience.
That’s Not A Bell That’s Ringing
Chances are good that when a phone vibrates this holiday season it won’t be a BFF – it will probably be a retailer. Remember, last year 61% of online Black Friday transactions were made on mobile devices. Many brands will continue to use SMS or push notifications to offer deals, and let shoppers know that their online/mobile order is ready for pickup.
When You Absolutely, Positively Want Free Shipping
One of the most effective ways for online retailers to move merchandise is by offering free shipping. Most retailers offer free shipping once you hit a certain dollar amount. Some offer an entire day where every purchase is shipped free of charge. But, this year, when so many will be unable to celebrate in person with family and friends, shipping costs will be even more top of mind with consumers. So, it’s probably a safe bet that retailers will be in even more of a giving mood when it comes to offering free shipping.
Need assistance elevating your eCommerce business in this unprecedented holiday season?
As we have covered in our recent blog posts, the adoption of Augmented Reality is far ahead of schedule compared to expert predictions. With more AR experiences flooding the marketplace, the competition for valuable real estate in a customer’s mind will reach an all time high. The highly interactive nature inherent to AR experiences will present a unique opportunity to create lasting imprints in the minds of your customers. In other words, you can create memories designed specifically for your target market. To understand how to best capitalize on this innovative emerging technology, one must first come to understand how AR influences cognitive performance.
Duration, Path, Outcome
Our brain is divided into two distinct sectors: conscious and unconscious. The conscious side is continuously processing information, looking at possible outcomes, developing predictions, and assessing the world around us. The information it perceives as “non-prioritized” is sent to the unconscious sector.
This process of Duration, Path, Outcome is constant now more so than ever via the seemingly endless scrolling through social media feeds. Our brain is actively passing actions to automation mode while searching for a dopamine fix.
This brain process is simply broken down to Signals vs Noise.
Memory Creation & Plasticity
Emerging Technology allows for a further push on brain plasticity, or the ability for the brain to be shaped and molded. When looking at AR, VR, Spatial Computing, or any form of interaction with technology, there are significant signs that the brain is stretched and able to rewrite former engrained paths and their outcomes.
The goal of every experience should be the creation of new memories. Using this as our foundation and core Key Performance Indicator (KPI) creates the desired interaction between technology and the user. If our desired effect is to create a memorable moment, the brain is at the focal point of our interactions. Immersive and impactful experiences will be tied directly to the Signals, rather than more Noise.
Tying It All Together
Creating Signals is the key to obtaining valuable brain real estate. While creating more Noise will further distance a company from its desired outcome.
But, we have always done it this way…
Consumers are currently on Noise overload. They are being bombarded from all angles, whether it be from mobile apps, social media, or eCommerce websites. Experiences are all the same and what was once amazing is now normal. Everything is blending together.
Creating experiences that push past the brain’s dismissive functions is the core of our team’s purpose. Creating memories will be realized through the use of Emerging Tech. At PeakActivity, we help you build Signals that will allow you to own the most valuable real estate in the world: inside a consumer’s mind.
Want to learn more about the implementation of Augmented Reality and how it can help your business?
As the third quarter came to a close, SnapChat (Snap Inc). released a report detailing the quicker than expected adoption of Augmented Reality (AR) experiences. With such massive growth in this space, continued heavy investment in AR is inevitable. This report underscores the fact that Augmented Reality and Emerging Technology are here to stay and it will have an enormous impact on businesses that are quick to adopt and implement this game-changing technology. Augmented Reality is no longer simply a tool to fix a flower crown or dog ears on the user. Its potential impact on education, experiential marketing, retail, and data visualization cannot be understated.
Education & Training
“There is significant evidence that indicates that the grades obtained in the learning unit that was taught using AR are better than the grades obtained in the unit that was taught using traditional methods four weeks after the initial assessment” – The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology
What is the benefit of faster, longer-lasting, and more intuitive training to your business? Augmented Reality allows end-users to understand complex data and training modules with a longer rate of retention of knowledge. This understanding of a product or process will ensure a longer stickiness in your end-users mind driving a higher cognitive recall.
Marketing & Experiential
“Traditional electronic commerce (e-commerce) is limited because it cannot provide enough direct information about products…The technology presented in this paper shows how Augmented Reality (AR) can be used to help overcome the limitations and enhance e-commerce systems.” – International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction
Creating Signals above the Noise for customers is more important now than ever. With the average American adult spending 3 hours, 43 minutes on a smartphone device per day we are more apt to disregard traditional marketing efforts within social media, websites, and installed apps. Creating Interactivity within AR experiences delivers a more immersive experience which will drive up a higher usage and retention of information. Spikes in browsing interactivity must be triggered by “new” experiences that a user has not come across yet.
Retail & Conversions
“AR-based product presentations generally provide effective communication benefits compared to web-based product presentations and the positive relationship between interactivity/vividness and usefulness/enjoyment is mediated by a sense of immersion.” – Journal of Interactive Marketing
Augmented Reality experiences are currently impacting customers’ shopping habits that drive higher engagement and conversion. Options such as “see before you buy” allows customers to place any product where they want and interact. In a similar vein, AR features allow consumers to “try on” clothes before buying them without the hassle of actually putting them on.
Data & Visualization
“The main benefit from the implementation of the MR approach is human experience improvement…visualization allows convenient access to huge amounts of data and provides a view from different angles…Furthermore, it ensures actionable insights that improve decision making.” – Journal of Big Data
Creating interactive data and seamless interactions within digital objects allow users to understand and grasp complex findings unseen in the 2D world. Placing the most essential data in the central area of the human visual field in Mixed Reality would allow one to obtain the presented information in a short period of time without significant data losses. Improving visualizations by using cognitive psychological principles and by implementing the most natural interaction with visualized virtual objects is destined to yield the best results.
Augmented Reality is changing the landscape of customer engagement. Its adoption is far more rapid than experts had previously predicted. Its ability to create effective and meaningful experiences for your target audience is undeniable. Augmented Reality is here and it is not going anywhere anytime soon.