It was a necessity that brought more customers online post the outbreak of Covid-19, for the lockdowns while halting the supply chain also appeared to break the traditional brand-consumer relationship. This challenge faced by the brands was, however, turned into an opportunity by then existing players in the Indian D2C space and by a slew of newer D2C brands that leveraged the right technologies to reach out to and engage their customers in consistent communication. Currently, with technological advancements like Metaverse expected to change our world, it is essential to take stock of what technologies would impact the most crucial aspect of any business, i.e. customer engagement.
Some things always go hand-in-hand - like a door and its key, like augmented and virtual reality. While both might be two different technologies per se, they complement each other and ensure surprising results when joining the forces. When we refer to Augmented Reality, it essentially means an interactive experience of a real-world environment, wherein objects, in reality, are enhanced through computer-enabled perceptual information across different sensory modalities like auditory, visual, and somatosensory. Virtual Reality, whereas, is a computer-generated environment with unreal objects, scenes, etc that appear to be real.
Now let’s look at the aforementioned details in the form of customer engagement for D2C brands. By ensuring a right mix of both forms of technology, these brands that have no intermediary channel to reach out to customers can afford to invest in the creation of virtual avatars of their products. There are further instances of customers getting a near-perfect idea of apparels or garments fittings and style of spectacles on one’s face, enabled by the right mix of technologies.
Thereafter is the significant role of Artificial Intelligence that could majorly impact and enhance the brand-customer engagement. One of the key contributions of AI is in the form of AI-powered chatbots, which is practically a 24x7 hotline between customers and brands. The chatbots have as a matter of fact evolved drastically with the advancements of AI and ML. For instance, we now have virtual assistants and conversational AI answer chatbots that deliver relevant information even if there’s a typo in customer query or even if it is written in a different manner. These bots understand the context rather than just specific words, thus providing the right resolution of any issue or query.
Coming back to Metaverse, often touted by many as the new Internet, it is basically an online virtual world that incorporates different technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, 3D holographic avatars. These technologies combined offer a hyper-real alternative world for the customers as well as brands to not merely engage but enhance their engagements. Now whatever we name it as per our whims – virtual malls or live shopping – the prospects of it look absolutely promising and would definitely drastically change the relationship D2C brands share with their customers.
While talking about technology, one can also not ignore immensely popular products or platforms like social media or instant messaging apps. These channels must be used to reach out to a specific target audience, by choosing the right channels and placing the right content. With influencer marketing becoming the new buzzword, the D2C brands can also make use of live streaming platforms along with social media, wherein the influencers on behalf of the brand would interact directly with customers and also showcase products if conducive. For example, a hair lep or a healing cream can be used by the influencers during live sessions to showcase their effect.
Another significant element of establishing communication with customers on these platforms is ensuring omnichannel engagement. Different customers can try to reach out through different channels like WhatsApp, Facebook, emails, etc, but by integrating a digital omnichannel customer engagement platform, the brands can interact in real-time with their direct customers, thereby transforming a website or social media page into business centers. Furthermore, there are an in-built knowledge base and case management for faster resolution of customer queries.