Top Trends for Experiential Commerce in 2018 and Beyond

Natasha Sholl By Natasha Sholl | 24 Apr 2018

Creating an authentic and exciting brand experience for your consumer is vital in order to leverage engagement and loyalty. But in a landscape where technology is developing at a rapid speed, how much emphasis should retailers be putting on things like AI and VR?

What does experiential commerce do? It weaves a story, creating memorable moments by turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. The last few years have seen exciting developments in the behavioural commerce landscape with retailers in high-end fashion, start-ups, pureplay retailers, small businesses and global brands utilising elements of optimisation, fulfilment, touch-points, AI and personalisation to ramp up their marketing activities.

We know that consumers favour ‘experiences’ over ‘things’. This is where experiential commerce hits its stride, playing on the relationship between bricks and mortar and digital, ensuring seamless integration between the physical store and the online experience.

Here are 5 Trends for 2018 (thanks to Andreas Dzumla, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Longtail UX):

  1. Accessibility first, ego second.
  2. A strong trend in UX away from ‘following the latest trend’ to ‘what works best for the user’. UX is now much more about measuring results, and conversion rates and ROI are a great part of it.
  3. Personalisation to be the next mainstream: Smarter personalised user experience, emails with content based on previous website interactions, text messages based on location, website content based on previous interactions and content tailored to the actual user search and purchase intent.
  4. Chatbots and voice activated interfaces are undoubtedly two other huge trends. Chatbots are being used on more and more websites to provide a better user experience by decreasing bounce rates and increasing conversion rates and ROI. Voice activated interfaces already boost user experience by eliminating typing, a potential source of friction especially for mobile users.
  5. Virtual Reality will be the next big thing for e-commerce. Smart mirrors in brick-and-mortar stores are more like an expensive gimmick. Virtual dressing rooms in e-commerce (once VR viewing devices are a little bit more widespread) have the power to almost completely replace the in-store try-before-you-buy experience.

Like Dzumla, Margaret Bosworth, Head of Marketing Communications APAC, Sealed Air, Product Care, believes that tapping into what the consumer really wants is key, rather than focusing on new technology or what’s next. For Sealed Air, owning the ‘at home’ brand experience is something than can be overlooked but is actually vital when it comes to experiential commerce.

“Owning the actual at-home brand experience and more specifically the unboxing experience itself is the new frontier of brand experience for e-commerce. If brands fail to think about the role of bringing the brand experience to the doorstep and into the home in helping them create loyal customers, they’re going lose – big,” says Bosworth. “With fewer shoppers inside brick-and-mortar locations, it’s imperative for retailers to replicate that experience in the customer’s home. Secondary packaging can make that happen. An e-commerce experience doesn’t have to end at the front door.”

In this way, while AI, VR and other exciting tech developments have a huge role to play in where experiential commerce is headed, the experts are warning that it’s getting the basics right that are the key for engaging consumers now and into the future.

For more expert advice and practical tips for creating a compelling customer experience, download Power Retail’s Special Report 60, Experiential Commerce, here.

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