Covid-19 has posed a unique threat to retailers. Stay-at-home and isolation orders have to lead to the exacerbated effects of already decreased rates of in-person shopping. These decreased rates of in-person shopping have been a result of eCommerce giants such as Amazon and other traditional brick and mortar retailers making the transition to increasing their eCommerce presence. It turns out that the convenience of having something shipped to your door is worth more to the consumer seeing the physical item before you purchase it.
eCommerce isn’t just a fad, however. In fact, by 2040, it’s predicted that as much as 95% of purchases overall will be conducted via eCommerce. This figure is also taking into account that 80% of internet users have already purchased either a good or service online. In 2021, it’s expected that 72% of online purchases will be made with smart devices, with total eCommerce purchases accounting for as much as $3.56 trillion. Despite the large demand and huge potential of really taking off in online sales, it can be difficult for businesses and brands to differentiate themselves on the internet with such a saturation of products and companies.
Brands that seek opportunities to differentiate themselves and their products in innovative ways have a wonderful opportunity to connect with their consumer via the internet in a way that was not possible before: online physical product digitization.
The Digital Age
The presence and importance of digital media and products is not a new development either. The capabilities of phones and other smart devices have been integral to global culture for more than a decade. They’ve allowed us to stay connected on a level previously unknown to generations that were once only connected through landline phone communication. Smartphones now allow the global population not only to communicate with one another but to communicate with an international economy that continues to efficiently improve the ways we browse and purchase products.
As was previously mentioned, mobile devices play a large part in upholding the strength of the eCommerce industry, with a majority of online purchases stemming from smartphones. This is likely due to the fact that in the US alone, 95% of Americans have cell phones, and 81% of Americans now have smartphones. It’s not merely a coincidence that almost every American has a cell phone, let alone nearly half of the globe. Further, taking advantage of technologies associated with these devices has the potential to be a marketing channel with access to an unprecedented number of consumers.
Smartphones’ easy connection to the internet is wonderful for browsing and purchasing. That said, many companies choose to develop applications that customers can download directly to their phones. Doing so can be a great resource for frequent buyers, however, if you’d like a larger number of consumers to participate in what your brand has to offer, adding special capabilities to app-only features could leave a large number of consumers out.
Digital web-based applications are a wonderful way to curtail this issue, which allows customers to save time (and space on their phones) without the need to download an application. Still, some might argue that consumers might think it takes too long to even visit a web URL. Hence, the importance of QR codes come into play. By simply scanning the code with a smartphone camera, individuals can be launched to any number of online links that can bring them to items such as web-based applications. QR codes can be a part of your branding and can even integrate features such as your brand colors, logo, and more. That said, our article isn’t just about the technology that lets you access web applications, it’s about the incredible capabilities of digitalized retail products.
Applications of Digitizing Physical Retail Products
Digitizing your products doesn’t just mean one thing. At the end of the day, there are many applications that it can be used for to create more enticing and engaging marketing experiences that are better catered to the individual needs of the consumers you’re hoping to target and bring sales in through.
Augmented Reality (AR)
Perhaps one of the most popularly used applications of digitized products (whether we recognize it or not) is for use in augmented reality. While AR might not necessarily be as well known as virtual reality (VR), it has already taken a much larger role in our lives than we realize. The difference in understanding between these two is so large in fact that as many as 90% of consumers understand what VR is, while only 65% understand and recognize what AR is.
Virtual reality focuses on sending the user to an entirely different space, normally through the use of a headset and other accessories that allow the individual to feel that they are not only in a different space but in a different body. The most common applications of VR are for video games and in sometimes professional training purposes, where initial training in real-life situations may be hazardous for the individual to participate in such as flight simulations, as well as other public servant and military positions.
Augmented reality, on the other hand, involves bridging the digital and the real world. This is normally done through a camera lens (typically a smartphone or other device) that allows individuals to see items from the digital world come to life in the room right in front of them, or sometimes even on them! AR is best recognized in social media filters such as Snapchat and Instagram that allow users to use different effects to put objects, items, makeup, and other filters on their face, or on the environment around them.
In product marketing, AR can be used in a similar way to that in which it is often used in social media. This might look like experimenting with putting artwork, furniture, or other objects into the room in front of you to test out if it looks good, if the size works well, or if there’s another style or color that might look best in the space. It can also be used for products such as makeup, clothing, and other goods that you might use on yourself. AR can utilize the front-facing camera to physically try on the product or item for a similar effect as trying out furniture for a space in your home.
Digitizing your consumer products and allowing the consumer to try them out has a number of marketing benefits that are preferable to traditional retail solutions. To start, there is a large amount of time, money, and other resources saved that would normally be used on the return process. Consumers and businesses can both save time and money by helping the consumer come to a better convolution of the product that will work best for them, without the consumer even needing to leave their home (or their couch for that matter).
Additionally, AR solutions are very intuitive to use and help the consumer to make a more personal connection with the product that they are buying. Therefore, it’s also easier to upsell other products, offering variations, similar products, and more that they can quickly try out, try on, and browse, once again, without even needing to leave their home. At the end of the day, AR solutions lead to very positive outcomes for the companies who use them. Studies have actually shown that 61% of shoppers who make online purchases prefer to shop from businesses that offer AR solutions. Additionally, as much as nearly 50% of consumers say they would be willing to pay more for a product, as long as the company has AR integrations that allow them to interact with a product more intimately.
Sometimes, while it can be fun to use AR to help a consumer to determine whether or not they should be purchasing a product, it isn’t as helpful as being able to simply see a 360-degree view of a product. Thus, the option to show a completely 3-D product on an individual mobile, smart, or internet device is just as beneficial. This makes the digitization of the physical product all the more useful.
For products such as shoes, customers often know what size they are, thus, being able to view and see a more comprehensive perspective on the shoe may make the consumer more likely to make a purchase. Additionally, by giving the customer access to view all sides of a product, they’re able to potentially see more of the unique and precise features that might make them more likely to spend the money they need to purchase the product.
3-D products don’t necessarily need to be independent of AR solutions either. For example, place a piece of furniture that you’re considering purchasing on the floor in your living room, and take a look at what it might look like from multiple angles, rather than just front-facing. The digitization of your product can give the consumer the experience of almost having owned the product, without actually needing to spend the money.
The ability of the consumer to personalize a product to their own individual tastes, preferences, and needs is another great component that can be brought to life through the digitization of your physical retail products. Further, this is not necessarily mutually exclusive from AR or 3-D capabilities which can make the customization of a product come to life even further. At the end of the day, it’s once again about creating an easy, intuitive, impressive, entertaining, and personalized experience with the consumer in order to make an emotional connection with them, whether that be with your brand or with the product itself.
Returning to the shoe example, let’s say an individual sees a style of shoe they might like online. When clicking to see more details, they discover they’re able to view the product from all angles, which is made even better by their ability to change colors, textures, materials, and more. Take it a step further with AR capabilities and the consumer is now able to see what the shoe they just personally made, looks like on their own foot. If the goal is to entice the customer to buy your product, you might not have a more engaging or close opportunity than this.
Digitize Your Products With CSCONNECT
Every single business will have different needs when it comes to digitizing their products for marketing purposes. Thus, the solutions that are used with each business should be custom to each individual business. At CSCONNECT, we work with you to implement solutions that will wow the consumer, all while keeping your budget in mind. For years, technological capabilities such as digitization were only accessible to large companies with the money and resources to do so. CSCONNECT is seeking to change this narrative by offering web-based product marketing solutions that keep complexity to a minimum.
Schedule a demo today to see how our services can be of use to your business.