The retail industry has become one of the fastest-growing industries in the last two years. As per Statista, India’s retail market is projected to reach $1.7 trillion by 2026 from $833 billion in 2020. Much of this growth would be attributed to organizations and brands who amidst disruptions, quickly adapted to the changing circumstances to fill in the physical shopping gap which emerged during the pandemic.
The exponential rise in the demand for online shopping services paved the way for India’s online shopper base to grow, which is expected to reach 220 million by 2025, according to IBEF estimates. While online shopping capabilities were partly strengthened out of necessity due to the pandemic, the retail industry is now transitioning to a more permanent shift to an online market due to these changing customer preferences.
Increased investments in digital initiatives to power new business models and strategies have resulted in an influx of new formats of retail marketing, further strengthening the foundation of the online retail market. This sharp shift towards embracing all things digital has created a new omnichannel experience for consumers – one that is personalized, seamless, and experiential, across both online and offline touchpoints. For instance, the advent of the Direct-to-Customer (D2C) business model has opened doors for businesses to increase revenue, maintain competitive advantage, and drive customer engagement.
A popular example of such new formats is video e-commerce. Leveraging video content to promote and sell products over the internet has become a key differentiator in creating unique digitally enabled in-store experiences. Although the concept is not new given that QVC broke through home shoppers in the 80s, the concept has evolved into social e-commerce with an added layer of ‘livestream shopping’.
This new and trending concept of promoting products on digital platforms is aimed to provide an immersive and interactive shopping experience during a livestream. With live streaming, geographical location is no longer a barrier to access, helping bridge the gap between social, entertainment, and commerce through a sensory, real-time experience between the shopper and the seller. From a customer’s point of view, this means increased convenience that allows them to shop whenever, wherever, on any device, creating an incredibly seamless experience from the first click to the last.
For retailers, this means increased exposure and reach, which allows them to:
- Target new audiences and create unique interactions
- Increase engagement, drive conversion, and cultivate loyalty
- Provide brands with key insights into their customers using data and analytics
Established global giants are experimenting with live streaming as an avenue to drive mindshare, build loyalty and deliver experiences for customers that will ultimately drive sales. As a testimony to this, the gross merchandise value of live commerce through short videos is expected to touch $5 billion in India by 2025, as per RedSeer Consulting. Brands that are agile to adapt and innovate can use video at all levels of the customer journey to create an immersive customer experience:
PRE-PURCHASE - At this stage, video is predominantly used for search and discovery via social media, websites, or email newsletters, giving customers the ability to visually research and uncover features and benefits more contextually. Livestreaming is further gaining popularity as a way to ‘virtually’ launch a product or create a showcase event to engage prospective and current audiences.
ONLINE PURCHASE - Use video to showcase related products, solutions, or recommendations to drive increased cart size. Brands can also use interactive shoppable videos with a CTA or click to cart conversion to deliver a more seamless experience. ‘Shoppable TV’ is also expected to emerge as another potential channel as the lines become more blurred between entertainment experiences and ways to reach consumers.
IN-STORE PURCHASE - In a physical storefront, retailers can use QR codes or apps that demonstrate key product features and benefits, customer testimonials or reviews, or how-to-use demos. Through this form of visual storytelling, buyers can ‘test out’ the products in different settings, helping them make an informed decision.
POST-PURCHASE - At this stage, it is about supporting customers with relevant information on the product or service they have purchased. From unboxing tutorials that educate customers to use video for advocacy, leading retailers are increasingly raising the bar on engaging with customers.
As more retailers are looking to differentiate and use new and unique ways to engage and interact with consumers via the channel of their preference, video analytics is one of the most useful tools for measurement. Video analytics insights provide retailers with a comprehensive method for measuring ROVI (return on video investment) and empowering them with viewer engagement data. This enables retailers to develop insights to target specific audiences with curated content that is personalized for them and helps form future video strategies and business decisions.
While the digital habits developed by consumers during the pandemic lockdown continue to persist, merging online and offline ecosystems are profoundly impacting next-gen shoppers and re-inventing ways in which the Indian retail industry can capitalize on the digital revolution.