Blurring The Lines Between Physical & Online Shopping - Leverage Technology To Increase Sales

Anil is a Technical Lead/Architect with 16 years of experience in developing product, teams and selling innovative software solutions. He has global experience and a broad range of expertise across platforms and technologies. His area of expertise are Information & Systems Security, Platforms & Tools, Product Management, Identity & Access Management, Enterprise Architecture and Product Development with a very strong background in scalable transaction processing & distributed systems.

Online shopping has evolved over the past few decades from a rare indulgence to a mainstream phenomenon, with more and more people choosing to purchase goods and services online rather than in physical stores.

While online shopping offers many conveniences, there are certain features of brick-and-mortar stores that customers miss. To address this issue, and maximise customer satisfaction, many e-commerce companies now incorporate various functionalities through techno- logies and operational processes to simulate the shop- ping experience in a brick-and-mortar store.

The virtual trial room
One of the most significant advantages of physical stores is that customers can try on clothes and accessories before making a purchase. To recreate this experience online, many e-commerce sites now offer a virtual option using augmented reality (AR) technology. For instance, when shopping for sunglasses, customers can use their phone's camera to try on different styles and see how each pair looks on their face. According to a study by Retail Perceptions, 61% of customers prefer to shop in stores that offer AR experiences, and 40% of customers are willing to pay more to experience products through AR.

Online shopping can feel like an isolated experience, but e-commerce sites can combat this by replicating the social aspects of physical stores and offering product ratings and reviews

Another feature that customers miss when shopping online is the ability to view products from all angles. To address this issue, many e-commerce sites now offer 360-degree product views, allowing customers to see all aspects of a product before purchasing. For example, customers can use their peripheral devices (mouse, trackpad, or touchscreen) to rotate the image of a new phone and view it from any angle. This feature is also useful for products such as furniture where customers want to see how the item will look from different angles before making a purchase. According to Businesswire, 57% of online shoppers say they would be more likely to buy if they had access to helpful media that facilitates a 360-degree view of products when shopping online.

Enhanced shopping experience backed by informed decision-making
In the traditional brick-and-mortar stores, customers can ask sales associates for recommen- dations or even read product packaging for further information. Online shopping can feel like an isolated experience, but e-commerce sites can combat this by replicating the social aspects of physical stores and offering product ratings and reviews. By incorporating these customer-generated insights, e-commerce sites empower shoppers to make more informed purchasing decisions. Research indicates that 93% of customers consider online reviews when making a purchase, demonstrating the significant impact they have on consumer behaviour. Furthermore, an astounding 68% of customers are willing to pay up to 15% more for a product if they are assured of a better overall experience.

Additionally, sales associates in physical stores can provide personalised recommendations based on customer preferences and past purchases. Fortunately, online shopping has now started to offer personalised services by using advanced algorithms that analyse a customer's browsing and purchase history to recommend products that may be of interest. For example, if a customer buys a pair of running shoes, the website may suggest other products that are popular with people who have purchased running shoes in the past. According to Accenture research, a staggering 91% of customers are more likely to buy from brands that offer relevant deals and personalised recommendations. This level of personalisation not only enhances the online shopping experience but also enables customers to discover new products that align with their interests and needs.

The power of group shopping: a paradigm shift in online retail
Group shopping is revolutionising online retail by offering a range of benefits for shoppers and retailers alike. With collective buying power, shoppers can negotiate discounts, discover new products, and connect with like-minded individuals. The global group shopping market was projected to reach $ 49.1 Bn by 2023, driven by the increasing popularity of online shopping and the desire for convenience and savings. Group shopping platforms provide deals across various categories, requiring shoppers to sign up, browse, and purchase desired deals. This trend enables shoppers to save money and enjoy a social shopping experience, while retailers can generate sales, increase brand awareness, and manage inventory effectively. Embracing group shopping presents an opportunity to unlock substantial savings and participate in a growing retail phenomenon.

Sreepriya Swaminathan, Senior Domain Principal, Infosys BPM

Sreepriya has more than two decades of Experience in managing 360degree programs in digital transformation and digital operations. She has covered a long way from being the first certified Search Engine Optimiser of India to handling global delivery for 20 plus clients. Her areas of expertise are Profit Centre Operations, Digital Transformation, Digital Marketing Operations, Business Consulting, Pre-sales, Transitions, Strategy and planning.

Effortless shopping experience
Online shopping offers several conveniences over traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Customers can shop from the comfort of their own homes, at any time of the day or night, without having to worry about traffic, parking, or long checkout lines. Additionally, most online retailers offer free returns, which allows customers to try on or test out items without having to commit to purchasing them. This can alleviate some of the anxiety customers may feel when shopping online and encourage them to try new products without fear of getting stuck with something they don't like. A UPS study found that 66% of online shoppers review a retailer's return policy before making a purchase. The convenience of online shopping and returns makes it a popular option for busy professionals and individuals who do not enjoy shopping in traditional stores.

While online shopping has come a long way in terms of replicating the experience of a physical store, there is still room for innovation. One example of a futuristic shopping experience is portrayed in the book "Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline, where the protagonist can explore a virtual shopping mall and try on clothes and accessories using a virtual reality headset. While this may seem far-fetched, it is not out of the realm of possibility with advancements in technology. As the line between the physical and digital worlds continues to blur, it will be exciting to see how e-commerce companies continue to innovate and improve the online shopping experience.