This article originally appeared on Forbes.
Digital transformation is being fast-tracked
This is because customers keep raising their expectations of the shopping journey. And tech is the catalyst behind greater convenience, speed, optimisation, automation – the list goes on.
Now, retailers are racing to establish themselves at the forefront. Online shopping and engagement remain top strategic initiatives, and virtual technologies play a big role.
To date, AR and VR have been used to enhance brand interactions and replicate the physical experience online. Tech investments in the coming years will focus on advanced applications like enhancing the path to purchase or creating a virtual showroom.
Source: Euromonitor International Voice of the Industry: Digital Survey, fielded November 2021
Note: Percentage of retail professionals that believe AR / VR has already had or will have the greatest impact on these areas of their business.
In a previous article, creative brick-and-mortar store formats were highlighted. But what about the massive online channel? Warby Parker, H&M and CU stand out as three examples of how retailers are breaking digital boundaries.
Warby Parker upgrades eye exams
Eyewear disruptor Warby Parker continues to modernise the optical goods space with its Virtual Vision Test app in the US.
Customers can skip the store and take an eye exam on their phone to renew their prescription. Results are available in two days, and if the prescription is renewed, customers are charged USD15.
Source: Warby Parker
Optical retailers have relied on in-store exams to drive sales, because prescriptions are required for customers in the US to purchase corrective lenses. Warby Parker’s new app offers a digital alternative that will move a larger proportion of business online, further disrupting this traditionally store-based channel.
H&M gets into gaming
In April 2021, H&M partnered with Nintendo to create Looop Island within Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The island is designed to promote sustainable fashion and features the Looop machine, a digital clothing recycling station, where players can upcycle their outfits into new ones.
Seven months after its debut, the fashion giant launched an in-game vegan apparel collection, featuring pieces from its “Co-Exist Story” line, and revamped Looop Island to become an animal sanctuary.
Gaming has become a preferred entertainment avenue for younger generations, and sustainability continues to be in the spotlight. With this partnership, H&M expands awareness of its environmental initiatives, educates gamers on eco-friendly fashion and engages consumers in a new platform.
CU in the metaverse
South Korean convenience store brand CU opened a digital store on Zepeto, Asia’s largest metaverse platform.
Players can participate in events or purchase virtual products with Zepeto’s digital currency. The virtual CU store also features a concert stage, encouraging users to socialise and interact within the platform.
The metaverse has been all over the news this year, but remains nascent. Usage will continue to grow as more consumers participate in this burgeoning online universe.
CU’s digital convenience store exemplifies how a brick-and-mortar retailer can build brand awareness through a virtual platform to engage with existing and potential customers.
Next-gen digital shopping and engagement
The post-pandemic shopper will demand tech advancements that are seamless, streamlined and better integrated across channels.
Your company has to meet consumers when, where and how they want to shop. New business models and the right tech integrations can put you in front of them.