Experiential Ecommerce: Reconceptualizing Human Connections, Digitally!

In 2011, IKEA did something unthinkable that revolutionized furniture marketing completely. Being known for their unconventional and maverick ideas, they hosted the biggest sleepover at their flagship stores. Over 100 people were selected through a Facebook competition to attend the sleepover. They were given opportunities to personalize their sleeping experiences. These participants were allowed to select and customize bedding and pillows from the IKEA catalogue.  

If that’s not all, each of them was also assigned a sleep expert who suggested tips on getting a satisfying sleep. The end result was- the event resulted in a sharp 200% increase in their bedding sales. Owing to this in-store experience, bedding became one of the top three best-selling categories of IKEA. What was supposed to be a niche idea metamorphosed into the finest examples of experiential marketing.  

Taking this forward, the furniture behemoth expanded its sleepover events to 120 stores across 5 countries. Mr. Louis Blenkinsop, Ikea’s PR head, emphasized that leveraging social media and customer insights propelled the campaign to success. Prioritizing their customer’s need for good sleep has been the focus of their experiential marketing strategy.  

The impact of IKEA’s sleepover campaign was so profound that other competitors followed suit. Wakefit, an Indian home furnishing brand, added its own flavor and started hosting annual sleeping competitions to promote their mattresses. Such is the power of experiential marketing. When done right, it can be a big game-changer in delivering memorable customer experiences 

Leverage the use of eCommerce and online shopping   

Experiential eCommerce: Retail Marketing Reimagined 

The retail landscape has been disrupted by continuous innovation. There was a time when brick-and-mortar shops served as gateways to unique shopping experiences. Then emerged the concept of online shopping. The inception of eCommerce sites empowered consumers to make conscious decisions about their purchases. Customers can compare the prices of products from different sites and choose the ones that suit their needs and budget. More than ever, eCommerce has evolved consumers from mere buyers to decision-makers.  

What truly created a paradigm shift in eCommerce marketing was the COVID-19 pandemic. What was viewed as a huge blow to economic certainty became a goldmine for marketers. The new normal forced physical shops to shut down and compelled people to shop from their homes. Tapping into this opportunity, brands blended offline and online retail experiences. People could shop the way they would have shopped at a regular store. From pop-ups, brand installations to virtual tours, experiential eCommerce revived face-to-face interactions. This led to a meteoric boom in experiential eCommerce.  

The pandemic accelerated experiential commerce to meet its full potential. Likewise, there have also been seismic shifts in consumer behavior. Marketers observed that customers craved real-world that are unique. The focus moved beyond price points. What’s more, they are willing to invest in brands that put their interests at the forefront. Gone were the days when consumers shopped for the sake of buying. Today, they need a stronger motivation to engage with your brand. 

Consumers engaged with online purchases 

How Experiential eCommerce is Reinventing Human Connections?  

The digital revolution has made some sweeping changes in the experiential commerce industry. A proliferation of new trends and technologies has ushered in a wave of personalization. Brands have pivoted from selling a product to selling an experience. But what will make them truly stand out from others is brand humanization – it can take experiential marketing to the next level. Let’s find out how.  

  • Personalized Shopping Experiences 

What happens in a regular online shopping experience? You see product images or a video that highlights the product’s features and benefits. While they may be useful, they don’t really talk much about the products in detail. One of the advantages of experiential eCommerce is that it is customer-oriented. It combines innovative technologies to curate immersive and bespoke experiences for its customers. These days, brands can deliver a seamless omnichannel shopping experience through virtual tours, AR, analytics, and optimized targeting 

  • Transparency is the Way Forward  

Shoppers are big on authenticity. They expect the businesses they engage with to be transparent. Unlike before, customers want to be involved at every step of the business process. Experiential eCommerce is creating a shift among the retailer’s mindset. Brands are progressing from black box to glass box thinking. In the past, when brands were using the black box approach, customers were not aware of what was happening within the business. With the glass box approach buyers can see the people, processes and values in action. For instance, the sneaker company Veja believes in keeping its customers informed about their brand journey. It publishes factory price quotes, producer contracts, chemical tests and certification documents on its website. 

Consumers looking through a business website 

  • Look Beyond Data 

Today, data drives the majority of marketing strategies and decisions. Companies are leveraging the power of numbers and statistics to create tailor-made marketing experiences. While data and algorithms are useful, buyers expect humanity from brands. A study by Accenture shows that 84% of consumers do not prefer buying from companies that reduce their identity to a number. Data can surely inform you about the latest customer insights, but it’s still not enough. The truth is you cannot quantify human experiences because human behaviors, preferences and emotions are evolving constantly. Marketers need to elevate shopping experiences that go beyond numbers. They need to empathize with their customers to forge emotional connections. This is where experiential eCommerce comes into play.  

It takes into account a customer’s cultural context to add a human touch to the marketing efforts. Brands should put themselves in their customer’s shoes and curate powerful customer journeys. For instance, Best Buy, an electronics company, introduced the Best Advisor Program that offered customers free online, in-home consultations about products that suit their housing environment.  

Personalizing their customer needs at such a niche level facilitated long-term customer relationships and smooth sales cycles. Due to this initiative, Best Buy got positioned as a trustworthy electronic brand in America.  

  • Understand the Many Sides of Buyers  

Consumer searching for products online  

The marketing touchpoints have evolved with improvements in technology and innovation. Nowadays, brands use different marketing channels to communicate with their customers. These channels can range from smart watches, smartphones, to IOT’s and smart TV’s. However, the constant bombardment of messages across these platforms has frustrated the customers.  

According to an Accenture study, 73% of customers have expressed dissatisfaction with brands that send irrelevant and invasive messages. Marketers need to understand how customers interact with these channels differently. What messaging can work for web may not necessarily work for a smartphone. Only then can they differentiate messaging and seamlessly deliver tailor-made and relevant experiences across all platforms.  

Personalization has become ubiquitous in consumer journey. Experiential eCommerce helps in building unique and customized interactions across all the channels. It creates living profiles with detailed information about customer’s personal preferences. This helps in curating personalized experiences, offers, products and services. 

Find your Way Forward with Concord Commerce 

There is a dichotomy between what brands offer and customer expectations. This gap can be bridged by the prowess of experiential eCommerce. It has become essential to engage your consumers in new value-added ways. Time to move away from the age-old, conventional marketing tactics. True magic can only happen when companies create immersive branded experiences for their consumers. Get started with Concord Commerce, an all-inclusive platform, that helps you scale your business, reach consumers across multiple touchpoints and deliver products and services seamlessly. 

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