Innovations that point to where online shopping trends are likely heading, both during the coronavirus crisis and beyond.
Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly putting the e-commerce strategies of retailers into sharper focus, which has already led to new approaches and strategy, consumer behaviour has been steadily shifting to encompass more digital activity for some time.
With this shift have come innovations that point to where online shopping trends are likely heading, both during our current health crisis and beyond. Here are seven of our best, spotted within recent months.
1. AN AI CHATBOT STYLIST CAN ‘COMPLETE THE LOOK’
“Styled by AI” isn’t yet a commonly used term, although that may be about to change. London-based Intelistyle’s artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot stylist works with both retailers and customers. For retailers, the algorithm can “complete the look” by generating multiple outfits based around a single product and can recommend appropriate alternatives for out-of-stock items. With the app, the personal styling service can be accessed on any device, allowing customers a seamless move between online and offline shopping.
For shoppers, the chatbot recommends styles and outfits based on personal preference, body type and hair, eye colour and skin tone. Based on what is already in a shopper’s closet, it can recommend new buys as well as suggestions of combinations of items already owned.
2. AI-PLATFORM FINDS CLOTHES THAT TRULY FIT TO REDUCE FABRIC WASTE
When it comes to online shopping for clothes, getting the right fit can be a guessing game. Many people solve the quandary by ordering the same item in multiple sizes and then returning the ones that don’t fit.
The UK’s Metail platform’s solution to the size-and-fit problem is designed for use by both shoppers and retailers. Metail offers two services – MeModel and Composed Photography. MeModel takes a few measurements from customers and uses its machine-learning algorithm to suggest accurate and personalised style and size recommendations.
3. CHINESE E-COMMERCE PLATFORM LIVESTREAMS INFLUENCERS TO BOLSTER SALES
Chinese e-commerce platform Tmall is turning social influencers’ audiences into captive markets, to generate instantaneous online sales. The trend, which is growing in popularity in China and elsewhere, blurs the line between retail and entertainment.
Tmall recently hosted a livestream chat with Chinese influencer, Viya Huang and US celebrity, Kim Kardashian. Viya and Kardashian’s Livestream chat was viewed by over 13 million people. A reported 15,000 bottles of Kardashian’s KKW perfume sold out in a matter of minutes.
4. APP TURNS ORDINARY SHOPPERS INTO FASHION MODELS
UK-based startup Superpersonal has created an app that will allow users to try on clothes virtually. Users feed the app basic information, including gender, height and weight. The app then records the user’s head movements. From this limited data, the app will create a virtual version of the user modelling clothes proposed daily by Superpersonal.
“We developed the technology because we think there is an incredible need for personalisation. The app itself is what we think the future of fashion is going to look like,” Superpersonal CEO Yannis Konstantinidis told Springwise.
5. CHINESE BEAUTY RETAILER MOVES IN-STORE ADVISORS ONLINE DURING COVID-19
Lin Qingxuan, a cosmetics company based in China, was amongst many brands severely affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The company’s sales dropped by 90 per cent during the 2020 Chinese New Year and had to temporarily close half its store locations.
However, using Alibaba Cloud’s e-commerce solutions, Lin Qingxuan was able to transform its business model. The company began hosting live-streaming sessions to recommend products on e-commerce channels. The session on Valentine’s Day attracted more than 60,000 people and as a result, they sold over 400,000 bottles of their camellia oil. In addition, by leveraging collaboration tools like DingTalk, Lin Qingxuan’s shopping advisors are offering personalised customer service online. So far, the sales from one shopping advisor in two hours have equalled that of four retail stores.
6. POLL PLUGINS HELP SHOPPERS GET ADVICE BEFORE PURCHASING
Experiential retail continues to be one of the hottest trends, with more retailers providing unique experiences to their customers with hopes of garnering brand loyalty. Now, an American app is providing retailers with a smart added extra that could encourage more spending.
Research shows that 78 per cent of women base their purchasing choices on advice and recommendations from friends. SelfieMark has spotted this retail trend and sought to fill it with their new plugins. Their app already uses smart comparison for brands and retailers to test market acceptance. Recent developments have now fostered the creation of poll plugins. They can appear as buttons in emails, websites, or various other forms of marketing. This allows consumers to create a poll on a specific product. A stylist, either from SelfieMark or the retailer themselves, then offers them advice on said product.
7. RESTAURANT CHAIN CREATES ‘POCKET FRANCHISES’ VIA WECHAT
KFC China created a virtual franchise system to engage customers and encourage people to order from the restaurant. The KFC pocket franchise digital interface gamifies the experience of eating out, aiming to win over new clients.
The KFC pocket franchise is not the only social commerce platform on the WeChat network. But KFC China, working with Accenture Interactive-Hocomm, has taken it further by creating a platform that encourages customer interaction.
The social media campaign and platform was born out a need to attract a younger audience to the fast-food chain. The WeChat mini programme allows anyone to own their own KFC franchise, and players can unlock new products and personalise the franchise’s storefront. The programme encourages people to “add sugar” to score points, which can be used to unlock more features.
1st April 2020