Live video of in-store sales staff for those browsing online will provide the biggest growth opportunity in the retail industry this year, claims André Hordagoda (pictured), co-founder of GoInStore, a live video software developer whose big-name customers include Dyson in Germany. He says stores will continue to become lifestyle destinations and augmented video will start to enhance the online shopping experience
By 2021, it is estimated that live video will account for 82 per cent of the world’s internet traffic – an important factor to consider for companies engaging with consumers. Online customer interactions with sales staff via live video can help to solve the challenge retailers have with high-traffic websites that yield much lower conversion rates than in-store visits.
It will also bridge the gap between the online and off-line experience. At the end of the day, people still like to buy from people. And, enabling online customers to buy from people, via their phone or laptop, at their chosen time and place, creates a huge opportunity for retailers to help address the challenges of time-pressed consumers, enabling them to find what they need faster and more conveniently.
So how does a retailer go about implementing an immersive live-video solution? GoInStore works by using one-way video and two-way audio to allow customers to click a button on a retailer’s website and be taken into the store, via live video, from the comfort of their home or office. Sales assistants replicate the in-store experience for online customers by using our app with smartphones and Bluetooth headsets, or smart glasses, to demonstrate the products and features. Customers can ask the sales assistant questions and see the products, all in real time.
This year, I believe we will start to see live video being used as a sales tool across retail and other sectors like property and automotive. Brands are starting to realise the potential that live video has in shortening the customer journey and utilising their people, brand, product and location assets, so they will start to utilise live video as a way of differentiating themselves against the likes of Amazon.
Live video will create new customer-facing roles
Following the expected huge growth in live video, we will start to see sales staff roles extend into providing more of a visual and audio experience for online and in-store customers than simply carrying out a transaction, ultimately helping to improve customer experience and drive increased customer loyalty.
We envision that ‘live video adviser’ roles will be specially created in-store to service the new demand for live video shopping experiences ranging from live online personal shoppers to staff and celebrities broadcasting from stores and other locations.
Stores are becoming lifestyle destinations
The bricks and mortar of retailing continues to change – shops and shopping malls are starting to become lifestyle destinations. Customers will continue to research and make their purchase decisions online and still visit the store to immerse themselves in the brand experience. Live online product and brand demonstrations will be broadcast through shopping centres, stores and websites simultaneously, which will provide localised and personalised content and experiences for shoppers within shopping locations and in the comfort of their homes.
Using location-based campaigns, digital marketers will use live video to drive footfall into stores as well as traffic to websites, promotions, discounts and in-store events could be used with elements of live interactivity to help highlight why a visit to a shopping destination is a rich experience.
Live Video + Augmented Reality (AR) = Better customer experience
We predict that live video featuring augmented reality could soon become the norm. While the live video element still provides the human interaction, AR will provide product and brand information overlaid on the live video stream. For example, a salesperson can show pricing and graphical measurements alongside the physical product in the live video. This extra information provides support to the salesperson and importantly, helps the customer in making a purchase decision.
Think how great it would be if they were demonstrating their coloured kitchen appliances and they simply swiped or hit a button and all the colours changed.
In the future, customer data will be used in real-time video to enhance the omni-channel customer experience. Customers are beginning to see the value in sharing their data, if in return they receive a personalised experience. For example, during an online live-video shopping experience, the staff member can provide highlighted and discounted products using AR, all based on the customer’s previous purchases or preferences. Essentially, the salesperson will be supported with the customer’s data to provide the best overall customer service using live video and personalised AR. The customer can then feel reassured that they have someone who can help them, alongside technology that personalises their online shopping experience.
This has true potential to change the retail experience as we know it.