New age practices such as shoppertainment, live-streaming, and social selling are redefining the retail industry across Europe. How can data analytics and AI help enhance customer and brand experience in this evolving market?
The retail market in the UK and Europe is undergoing significant upheaval. Trends like autonomous stores and contactless, inventory forecasting, and the metaverse are expected to gain further traction in 2022 and be a major driving force in the industry's shaping.
With the pandemic transforming customer behaviour permanently and even established, traditional retail players tapping into digital services, the focus now is on elevating digital customer experiences to enhance loyalty and revenue. Besides, the convergence of physical and digital worlds has become a priority for retailers, focusing on offering seamless shopping and enjoyable experiences.
Emerging Trends in European Retail
Key trends that will shape the European retail industry in the coming months include:
Intense customer demand, but at the lowest cost
With increasing prices, more and more customers are thrifty and looking for "what's extra" when making their purchase decision. Given this, discount stores and online retailers will emerge as the winners.
Heightened focus on tech, particularly AR/VR
With a view to enhance online customer experience, more and more retailers are investing in digital technologies that will offer a rich, highly engaging customer experience. Virtual reality, in particular, is expected to take online shopping to the next level.
Growing need for rapid order fulfilment strategies
There is a demand for shorter delivery cycles to keep pace with e-commerce growth. This is also supported by start-ups offering ultrafast delivery services.
Omnichannel takes centre stage
Omnichannel gained traction due to COVID-19, and the focus will continue to be on enhancing omnichannel presence to help customers move between channels seamlessly.
Digitally-Driven Online Shopping Formats will Change the Game
Against this backdrop, new age practices such as shoppertainment, live-streaming, and social selling are gaining steam in Europe's online retail space and are fast emerging as the next frontier of online commerce. But before we go further, let's understand what really is this new emerging format is all about? Shoppertainment is a unique, digitally-driven shopping model that is creating a storm in the shopping experience. It involves retailers live streaming highly immersive, engaging, and interactive experiences to drive sales. It uses digital and social platforms to remotely demonstrate, promote, and sell products directly to customers.
According to the Alibaba Group, which pioneered the concept of shoppertainment in China, while the trend is still in a nascent stage in Europe, customers are more "open to embrace new trends and technologies that can enhance their shopping experiences." A survey by Forrester of close to 15,000 adults across France, Poland, Spain and the UK found that 70% of the shoppers were interested in shoppertainment specifically. Almost 50% had increased their consumption of live streaming content during the pandemic.
The survey also found that electronics, fashion, and cosmetics were the top categories that captured customer attention to shoppertainment channel. And the primary drivers that got Europeans hooked on shoppertainment were convenience, time saving, and exclusive deals
Here is a quick recap on online customer behaviour by nation:
- The price-conscious Spanish customers preferred practical information provided by local product experts
- In Poland, customers valued interactions with hosts and other customers
- In the UK, customers were looking for trustworthy and mobile-friendly content
- French customers didn't want to spend more than 10 minutes watching a live stream
Shoppertainment is the New Normal?
Perhaps one of the most significant benefits of shoppertainment is that it addresses online shopping challenges around trust, pricing, and immediacy, with customers stating that they saved up to 30% in time, got up to 28% cheaper deals, and expanded their access to a broader range of products by 27%. Today, with more and more customers across Europe opting to shop online, the need for improved, transparent, and efficient experiences is the need of the hour, and live streaming offers all that and more:
It addresses quality and trust issues in real time
When live streaming product demos, buyers can have a chance to see the product in action and can even interact with the host to resolve their concerns.
It shortens the sales cycle saving time for both buyers and sellers
Live streaming commerce significantly cuts the purchase cycle by merging the discover, explore, and buy stages. Feedback from the live stream host and real-time reviews and comments from peers help speed up purchase decisions.
It provides access to exclusive deals and incentivises purchase
this is by far one of the most significant value-adds of shoppertainment. Promo codes and limited deals shared during the live stream, as well as the interactive games to earn coupons provide another reason for buyers to make the purchase.
The Role Of Data Analytics & AI in Enhancing Shoppertainment Experiences
In the hyper-digital business landscape today, data is the new "oil." Companies in Europe and the world over are leveraging big data analytics in unprecedented new ways to stay a step ahead of customer needs and demands and maintain a competitive edge. According to an IDC estimate, global data is pegged to increase by 61% to touch 175 zettabytes by 2025, with almost equal data on both the cloud and data centres. And retailers in Europe and globally are set to harness this data proactively to provide more meaningful, engaging, and personalised interactions with their customers.
Retailers can use big data analytics as a catalyst to better understand customer behaviour and elevate shoppertainment experiences. And when teamed with artificial intelligence (AI), it is proving to be the way forward in creating world-class, customised shopping experiences.
Such tailormade experiences are extremely critical to maintaining a competitive edge in the very chaotic and cutthroat online shopping, e-commerce, and m-commerce marketplaces.
By applying AI and associated technologies to big data, digital sellers can continuously learn, track, and analyse customer behaviour and pivot as needed based on a forecast of future purchase decisions. AI and machine learning algorithms integrated with big data analytics is an excellent way to identify and recommend personalised shoppertainment content to customers and offer deals based on their shopping behaviour and interests.
Actioning Intelligence from Data and AI: How Xebia can Help
At Xebia, we recognise that data analytics-driven insights are critical to staying ahead of the competition. And AIpowered data analytics is fundamental to delivering enhanced customer experiences and making better business decisions. But how do you extract meaningful information from the massive data available? It requires more understanding than just storing data and providing access to your teams. Xebia helps evaluate enterprise data maturity and creates a comprehensive investment roadmap for how best you can tap into data power in short/mid and long term and design a modern data platform that suits your needs.
Our data analytics engineers help enterprises develop robust and reliable data pipelines that enable self-service reporting and visualisation. By working closely with our customers' data science teams, we have proactively developed data science applications to gain future insights. This approach has been instrumental in reducing customer churn, predicting demand, optimising the supply chain, and automating processes.
To learn how Xebia can help elevate your shoppertainment customer experiences, write to us at https://xebia.com/apac/about-us/contact/